WALTHAM, MA– New England Patriots owner and Kraft Group Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, whose holding company owns many businesses, including New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, International Forest Products, Rand-Whitney Group, Rand-Whitney Containerboard and a portfolio of more than 100 private equity investments, will be the chief guest at the New England Choice Awards gala on Oct. 26 at Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA, announced INE MultiMedia today.
About 400 entrepreneurs, corporate executives, philanthropists, educators and community leaders are expected to attend the awards gala, which is presented by INE MultiMedia in collaboration with INDIA New England News, the region’s oldest and largest online, print and video magazine serving the South Asian community.
“We are very excited to welcome Mr. Kraft to the New England Choice Awards,” said Dr. Manju Sheth, CEO of INE MultiMedia, a Waltham, MA-based non-profit organization devoted to promoting and supporting charitable organizations, art, culture, education and empowerment through workshops, seminars and multimedia. “Mr. Kraft has inspired millions of people all over the world with his enormous contributions in the world of sports, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. We are also thrilled that he will be honoring a beloved superstar of our community, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria, with the Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Mr. Nohria will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his unique contribution to the learning environment of business management and entrepreneurship, leadership, and creating a culture of inclusion, innovation and diversity. In addition to honoring Mr. Nohria, INE will also honor New England’s shining stars for their outstanding contributions in the following areas: Academics, Art and Culture, Business and Entrepreneurship, Community Service, Healthcare, Non-Profit Organization, Philanthropy and Youth Leadership.
“When Mr. Kraft bought New England Patriots in 1994, he pledged ‘My objective in buying the Patriots is to help bring a championship to New England’, and this was a great promise he has fulfilled multiple times,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of INDIA New England News, IndUS Business Journal and the Boston Real Estate Times. “Both sports and entrepreneurship require tremendous focus, hard work, dedication and singlemindedness and Mr. Kraft is a perfect example of combining all those qualities. We are looking forward to welcoming and listening to him on Oct. 26.”
A lifelong football fan and 23-year New England Patriots season ticket holder before buying the team, Kraft became the chairman and CEO of the Patriots when he took ownership on Jan. 21, 1994. In the five years prior to Kraft’s ownership, the team had won just 19 of 80 games (a .238 winning percentage) with no playoff appearances.
The year Mr. Kraft bought the team (1994), the Patriots qualified for the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. They also clinched a playoff berth four times in his first five seasons as owner. In the past 24 seasons (1994-2017), the Patriots won 294 games (including playoffs) for an average of just over 12 (12.3 avg.) wins per season.
The worst-to-first ascent of the New England Patriots since Mr. Kraft purchased the team may be the greatest in sports history. Under Kraft’s leadership, the Patriots have recorded at least nine wins in 21 of 24 seasons since buying the team and won more division titles (17) and conference crowns (8) than any other NFL team. In 2016, the Patriots claimed their fifth Super Bowl championship during Kraft’s tenure, a total that is most in the league since 1994.
Mr. Kraft began his business career with the Rand-Whitney Group, Inc., of Worcester, Mass., a company that converts paper into packaging for various industries. He later acquired the company. In 1972, he founded International Forest Products, a trader of paper commodities that now does business annually in more than 90 countries. Together, Rand-Whitney and International Forest Products (IFP) comprise one of the largest privately-owned and fully integrated paper and packaging companies in the United States. In 2016, IFP was the top U.S.
containerized exporter in New England and ranked sixth in the nation.
Mr. Kraft founded the Kraft Group to serve as the holding company for the Kraft family’s diverse business interests comprised of companies in sports and entertainment, the paper and packaging industry, real estate and private equity investing.
A native of Brookline, Mass., Mr. Kraft attended local public schools before entering Columbia University on an academic scholarship. Upon graduation, he received a fellowship to attend Harvard Business School, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration.
In addition to serving on several NFL owner committees, Mr. Kraft also serves on the board of directors for Apollo Global Management and the Apollo Theater as well as the board of trustees for Carnegie Hall. He is on the executive committee and board of trustees for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he established the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center. He is a member of the executive committee of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.
Mr. Kraft is a trustee emeritus at Columbia and has received honorary degrees from several colleges and universities. He was awarded the NCAA’s highest honor when he received the Theodore Roosevelt Award, “presented annually to a distinguished citizen of national reputation and outstanding accomplishments.”
In 2011, Mr. Kraft received the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award as well as the prestigious honor of being inducted into the 231st class of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most learned societies. With his induction, he joined the likes of many other patriots, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Hancock. In 2012, he became the first NFL owner in the 44-year history of the George Halas Award to ever receive the honor, which is presented annually to the NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. That year, he was also inducted into the Columbia Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2013, he received the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence.
Over the past five decades, the Kraft family has been one of New England’s most philanthropic families, donating hundreds of millions of dollars in support of local charities, civic affairs and health care.