Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Greek yogurt Chobani, will address Morrisville State College graduates during commencement ceremony May 19.
By Franci Valenzano
(Morrisville, NY – May 2012) The founder of Greek yogurt giant, Chobani, will address Morrisville State College students during the college’s 101st commencement ceremony May 19.
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and president of Chobani, Inc., the parent company for the Chobani brand, will give the keynote address during the ceremony, which will take place at 1 p.m. in the Recreation Center.
Born and raised in Erzincan, Turkey, Ulukaya is a third-generation maker of Mediterranean foods. He started Chobani yogurt seven years ago with the vision of bringing great-tasting, high-quality products made with only natural ingredients to the United States.
Today Chobani is a local homegrown success, leading the Greek yogurt boom as America’s number one yogurt brand.
Ulukaya, whose family has cheese and yogurt operations throughout Turkey, has an extensive history of dairy farming and manufacturing. He came to the United States from Turkey in 1994 to learn English and pursue business studies.
In 2002, he launched Euphrates, a wholesale feta cheese company in Johnstown. He started Chobani in 2005, spending nearly two years perfecting the recipe before launching the Greek yogurt line, Chobani, in 2007. The company started with five employees and produced 1,000 cases of yogurt per month. Today, the company has more than 1,100 employees and pumps out more than 1.5 million cases of yogurt per week, with plans for more growth and expansion on the horizon.
Chobani, or “chopani,” means shepherd in Mediterranean languages and symbolizes giving while asking nothing in return—a gift from the heart. The word bears significance in Ulukaya’s life, whose philanthropic endeavors include the Shepherd’s Gift Foundation, the charitable arm of Chobani which donates 10 percent of the company’s annual post-tax profits to causes worldwide.
Ulukaya’s philanthropic pursuits also extend to his personal life where he serves on several boards including the Pathfinder Village, American Turkish Council and Federal Reserve Bank of New York Advisory Boards.
He has also been recognized with several awards. In 2009, he was named one of the distinguished 40 Under Forty business leaders by the Albany Business Review, and also received the Jack Avrett Volunteer Spirit Award from the American Advertising Federation (AAF) for commitment to public service and the betterment of both the advertising industry and the community.
Ulukaya, who resides in Norwich, earned a master’s degree from SUNY Albany and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ankara University in Turkey.
For more information about the college’s commencement exercises, visit morrisville.edu/commencement.
Franci Valenzano is public relations associate at Morrisville State College.