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Pursuing creativity, they built Rochester


  •  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-founders of Home Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust that operates on the East Coast;
  •  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, CEO and chairwoman of HCR Home Care, 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 nonbank mortgage lender licensed in New York;
  •  E. 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
  •  F. 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 guided 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 revenue;
  •  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, who led Hickok Manufacturing, the world’s largest maker of men’s belts, and 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 among top U.S. dealers 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.


  •  Frederick Berkeley III, who grew Graham Corp., co-founded by his grandfather, into an international company while preserving local jobs;
  •  Frank Chiaino and John Purcell, Fibertech Networks co-founders, who expanded the firm in a rough economy from five employees to 250;
  •  Michael Jones and Geoffrey Rosenberger, founders of Clover Capital Management;
  •  Richard Kaplan, a serial entrepreneur who has guided companies including Pictometry International Corp. and Torvec Inc. toward growth; and
  •  Frank and George Taylor, whose Taylor Instruments focused on instrument precision and customer service at a time when both were rare.


  •  Lauren Dixon and Michael Schwabl, leaders of Dixon Schwabl Advertising, founded by Dixon in 1987;
  •  Joseph Harris, Selah Harris, Margaret Harris Sheldon and Joseph Harris, whose family firm Harris Seeds was launched in 1863 and still operates nationwide from Rochester headquarters;
  •  Robert Morgan, who built Morgan Management LLC into a multimillion-dollar real estate ownership firm; and
  •  Dilip Vellodi, founder of Sutherland Global Services Inc., which employs more than 30,000 people worldwide.


  •   John Bruning and Robert Hopkins, optical engineers who as the leaders of Tropel Corp. were lab-to-market visionaries;
  •   Paul DeCarolis, who stepped up to lead his father’s trucking company and built a fleet of more than 2,000 vehicles;
  •  Jane Glazer, founder of QCI Direct, a leading catalog and online business that carries more than 4,000 products; and
  •  Claude H. Wright, who led a turnaround and explosive growth at Wright Beverage Distributing.


  •  Mark Davitt, whose ConServe began as a one-man shop and now employs nearly 800 in the student-loan collection business;
  •  Partners Arthur Finocchario, Robert Latour and Donald Tomeny, whose B&L Wholesale Supply was ranked one of Rochester’s Top 100 fastest-growing private companies 11 times;
  •  I.A. “Drew” Morris, who led G.W. Lisk Co. Inc. from the Great Depression to become a leading electromechanical products manufacturer; and
  •  Michael Nuccitelli and Ronald Ricotta, who built up Nationwide Precision Products, Parlec Inc. and Century Mold Co. Inc.

9/30/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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