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W.K. Kellogg III, president of General Packaging Products in Chicago, visited the Kellogg School in November to talk with students about his business practices and philanthropic activities.

W.K. Kellogg III, president of General Packaging Products in Chicago

Giving back

In a visit to the school that bears his family’s name, W.K. Kellogg III encourages students to pursue entrepreneurship — and community service

By Amy Trang

12/21/2010 - At 80 years old, W.K. Kellogg III has long known the secret to success. He invests smartly — in his employees and in his community.

Kellogg, president of General Packaging Products in Chicago, spoke about his business practices to an intimate gathering of Kellogg students from the Entrepreneurship and Net Impact clubs in November.

A long-time employer in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and Bedford Park, Ill., General Packaging Products manufactures packaging materials for food companies. Kellogg is the great-grandson of the late W.K. Kellogg, who founded the Kellogg Cereal Company. His father, W.K. Kellogg II, established the John L. and Helen Kellogg Foundation, which endowed the Kellogg School of Management in 1979.

Kellogg said he is proud to support his 100 employees at General Packaging Products, many of whom have been with the company for more than 30 years. He said helping his employees succeed in their life goals is what drives him. That includes providing employees with a retirement savings plan or personal loans for buying a house or funding their children’s education.

“Mr. Kellogg wanted to make sure that we realized the importance and significance of starting a company and treating employees well,” said Marissa Pines ’11, who attended the event. “By operating his company in lower-income areas, he created positive social impact through caring about his employees and empowering them. It was inspiring to hear his perspective.”

With sales of more than $30 million annually at General Packaging Products, Kellogg said that running his own business encourages him to do additional community outreach, particularly in education. Kellogg has volunteered for over 20 years as a literature appreciation teacher to 7th and 8th graders in Chicago Public Schools.

“I found that if I could start a business, I could fund certain things,” he said. “Otherwise, I’d be running around asking for it. Education is the best thing I’ve done.”

Kellogg also contributes to other philanthropic organizations. He has founded the Kellogg Cancer Center with his late wife Jacqueline, and volunteers with The Chicago Symphony, the Field Museum and the Oriental Institute.

“Please start your own business — help your employees,” Kellogg said. “Make something.”