“Luck is the dividend of sweat. The more you sweat the luckier you get.” — Ray Kroc 

GAMBIER — In 1964, Joe Mortellaro was almost 16 years old when he applied for a job at his local McDonalds in Youngstown. 

Little did he know his teenage job would propel him, his wife and family to a life of prosperity, charity and achievement. 

Those achievements were honored at the Knox Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and awards ceremony Friday night at the Kenyon College Lowry Center, where Mortellaro and wife Krys received the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Fifty some years ago, as a supervisor, I had the opportunity to have lunch with a bunch of supervisors when we sat with Ray Kroc (former CEO of McDonalds) and (he said), ‘What did you do? Give back to the community where you do business and if you do that you’ll be successful.’ and he was great,” Mortellaro said. “It’s been 58 wonderful years with the business.

“We have loved every minute of it.” 

Climbing through the McDonald’s management ranks in 1982, the Mortellaro’s were given the opportunity to become McDonald’s owner operators, COTC President John Berry said.

Their first McDonalds was in New Lexington, Ohio, the second was on Newark Road in Mount Vernon, and in 1986 the Coshocton Avenue location was born. 

Mortellaro and Krys kept busy all these years later, winning Ronald Awards and eventually the 50-year service award. 

“Even during the pandemic, Joe and Krys were busy working, creating a happy meal museum, displaying every McDonald’s happy meal since their inception in 1981,” Berry said. “As Kroc said, ‘If you work just for the money you’ll never make it but if you love what you’re doing, success will be yours.’ That is where Joe and Kry’s lasting legacy came from.” 

“Now this brought back a lot of memories,” Mortellaro said. “I’m so proud my son and daughter-in-law have joined the business. He’s allowed us to enjoy life.”

Mortellaro finished his acceptance speech by thanking the community that’s given so much back to him — an idea that was ingrained from the time he was 16 years old. 

Other Award Winners

  • The Volunteer of the Year Award–Steve Oster
  • Investor in the Future Award–New Directions
  • Women in Business Leadership Award–Tonya Boucher
  • Leadership Knox Distinguished Alumni Award–Amy Smart 
  • Entrepreneur Spirit Award–The Blessed Life 
  • Small Business of the year award–Lashley’s Training Center 
  • Business of the Year Award–Riverside Recovery Services 
  • Environmental Sustainability Award–Knox Public Health-Get Healthy Knox Coalition 
  • Heart Award–Village of Fredericktown-Kokosing Splash Park
  • Quality of Life–Habitat for Humanity of Knox County
  • Judy Klavins Ambassador of the Year Award-Noelle Walton 

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