Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Special Section / Building Rochester with instincts, hard work

Building Rochester with instincts, hard work


  • John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb, who co-founded global eye-care leader Bausch & Lomb Inc.;
  • Chester Carlson, whose revolutionary invention launched Xerox Corp.;
  • George Eastman, who built Eastman Kodak Co., one of the most recognizable brands in the world;
  • Frank Gannett, founder of media giant Gannett Co. Inc.;
  • James Gleason, who has made Gleason Corp. a world leader in gear production technology;
  • Kate Gleason, a trailblazer in manufacturing and real estate;
  • Thomas Golisano, Paychex Inc. founder and Rochester’s first billionaire;
  • Marvin and Richard Sands, the father-and-son team whose Constellation Brands Inc. is the world’s largest wine company;
  • Austin Steward, a pioneering businessman and abolitionist;
  • Robert Wegman, creator of the Wegmans Food Markets Inc. supermarket empire; and
  • Joseph Wilson, who led Xerox to worldwide growth and renown.

Matthew Augustine, owner of Eltrex Industries, founded as a response to Rochester’s 1964 race riots;
Ernest Del Monte, chairman and CEO of E.J. Del Monte Corp.;
Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became an orator, politician and newspaper publisher of international renown;
Jacob Freeman, an orphaned Hungarian immigrant, and Jeremiah Hickey, who co-founded Hickey-Freeman, one of the most successful clothing manufacturers of its time;
Martha Matilda Harper, founder of the country’s first franchising operation and a proponent of women in business;
Nelson and Norman Leenhouts, brothers and co-chairmen of Home Properties Inc., which owns or manages some 50,000 residential units in the eastern United States;
Nathaniel Rochester, founder of Rochester; and
Hiram Sibley, founder of Western Union Telegraph Co.
Burton and Charles August, brothers and co-founders of Monro Muffler Brake Inc., an industry leader;
Patrick Barry, who co-ran Mt. Hope Garden and Nurseries, helping to develop it into the world’s largest such operation;
John D. Brush, who built Sentry Group from a Depression-era start;
Bal Dixit, founder and chairman of Newtex Industries Inc., who built a global firm on his substitute for asbestos;
George Ellwanger, who established and co-ran the world-famous Mt. Hope Garden and Nurseries in the 19th century;
James Wilmot, who founded Wilmorite Properties Inc. in 1950; and
Louise Woerner, owner, CEO and chairwoman of Home Care of Rochester, which she founded in 1978.
Ralph Cantisano, whose family introduced the popular Ragu brand of pasta sauce and who formed and led Cantisano Foods Inc.;
Howard Coles, whose newspaper, the Frederick Douglass Voice, gave Rochester’s African-American community its public voice;
Max Farash, who transformed a commercial air-conditioning business into one of the region’s leading construction and real estate development firms;
Philip Nothnagle, owner and chairman of Nothnagle Realtors and founder of Nothnagle Home Securities Corp., the first non-bank mortgage lender licensed in New York;
Philip Saunders, who has steered a wide range of enterprises, including the Sugar Creek chain of convenience stores, W.W. Griffith Oil Corp. and Truckstops of America; and
Ritter Shumway, who assembled a manufacturing empire that culminated in the creation of Sybron Corp.
Ezra Andrews and James Briggs, the early leaders of Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Co.;
Ronald Fielding, who helped pioneer changes that made municipal bond funds popular nationwide;
Francis and George French, whose ingenuity made French’s Mustard an American food classic;
Thomas Gosnell, who expanded Lawyers Cooperative into the second-largest law book publisher in the United States;
R. Wayne LeChase, who grew his firm into one of the top 20 construction companies in the Northeast, and
John Riedman, who built one of the nation’s top privately held insurance companies.
Morton Adams, who helped a partnership of small canners and a farmers’ cooperative grow into a nearly $1 billion business;
Laurence Glazer and Harold Samloff, who built Rochester’s largest real estate developer and property management firm;
Dennis and Laurence Kessler, who created an eatery empire with nearly 70 restaurants;
T. Carl Nixon and Thomas Hargrave, who spearheaded the growth of the city’s largest law firm; and
Walter Parkes, who built one of New York’s largest electrical contractors.
Ronald Bittner, who led Rochester’s phone company as it doubled in size to nearly $2.5 billion in revenues;
Richard Dorschel, who built a car dealership into a $300 million business with 500 employees;
George Hamlin, who nurtured a community banking institution with more than $1 billion in assets;
David Kearns, who encouraged diversity and quality as CEO of Xerox Corp.; and
William Stolze and Herbert Vanden Brul, co-founders of RF Communications and champions of entrepreneurship.
Arunas Chesonis, who built Paetec Holding Corp. into a telecom force;
James Hammer, whose Hammer Packaging Corp. became a global printing powerhouse;
Raymond Hickok, founder of Hickok Manufacturing, the world’s largest maker of men’s belts, and of the Young Presidents’ Organization;
Robert Hurlbut, a pioneer in the nation’s shift from traditional nursing homes to senior living facilities;
Elliott Landsman, who created three successful real estate and construction companies; and
John "Jack" Wehle, who grew Genesee Brewing Co. into one of the top breweries in the nation.
James Cunningham, whose luxury carriage firm was the largest employer in Rochester in the 1880s;
John LiDestri, who leads a $500 million food company with strong local roots;
Thomas Judson Jr., who has transformed the firm his great-grandfather founded into one of the largest commercial construction companies in the Northeast;
Ferdinand and Gregory Smith, who have built Jay Advertising into a nationally known firm; and
Ford and Subaru dealer Kitty Van Bortel, whose Subaru franchise ranks No. 2 in the country for sales.
Thomas Bonadio, founder of the Bonadio Group, one of the first public accounting firms in New York to expand beyond auditing and accounting to business advisory and financial services;
Harlan Calkins, chairman and CEO of Rochester Midland Corp., a cleaning and disinfectant company founded by his grandfather with operations in five dozen countries;
Abraham Feinbloom and William Feinbloom, founders of Champion Products Inc., an athletic wear company, and pioneers in garment manufacturing;
Fred Gordon Jr. and Lucius "Bob" Gordon, whose Mixing Equipment Co. became a world leader and innovator in the manufacture of industrial mixers; and
John Summers Jr., who grew his father’s business, Jasco Tools Inc., into a holding company for four firms, including the largest tool-and-die manufacturer in Rochester.

  • Joseph Klein, who built Klein Steel Service Inc. from a tiny family operation into a leading regional business;
  • David Reh, who made his mark through Gorbel Inc., Retrotech Inc., Ravenwood Golf Club and other ventures;
  • Rob, George and John Norris; Suzy Hofsass; and Anne Wells, third-generation owners of Seabreeze Amusement Park, one of the oldest parks in the world; and
  • Henry Ward, who built Ward’s Natural Science Establishment into a worldwide provider of science specimens and equipment.

9/21/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected].


Check Also

2021 ended on a high note despite challenges — What’s in store for 2022? (access required)

It appears 2021 ended better than it started — so says most middle market executives who participated in KeyBank’s latest ...

Local banks monitoring but not worried about rising inflation, interest rates (access required)

Leaders at Rochester-area banks are expecting that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in order to address rising inflation and consequently that it will be more expensive to do business.

Local banks adjust to new normal (access required)

Nearly two years after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Rochester region in earnest, bank lobbies are back open for business, but community banking is not quite the same.

Thrive Alliance (access required)

St. John’s announces that Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Lesinski has been appointed to the board of directors for the ...