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Sun, Dec 24, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Jeno Paulucci: the entrepreneur who just loves a tussle


For a businessman, Paulucci also has unconventional ideas about labor. He's stridently pro-union, and thinks the country is long overdue for a minimum-wage increase. He has made a practice of hiring convicted criminals and the disabled.

He believes businesses should give up to 5 percent of pretax projects for community projects, and those who make more than US$100,000 a year should pay at least an extra percent or two in taxes.

For all his success, there are a few calls Paulucci would like back. He sold off shares in surgical staple and packing wrap companies because he didn't think they'd take off or quibbled with owners. He started several restaurants that failed for various reasons (bad locations, bad managers or his own stubbornness).

He details many of his experiences in a recent book called Jeno: The Power of the Peddler.

As a young barker at a food market, Paulucci persuaded customers to buy discolored bananas by calling them "Argentine" and bumping up the price. Decades later, he used an incubator to heat up a Chinese food competitor's products so they would be rancid on sales calls.

He was once forced to pop a dead grasshopper from one of his freshly opened cans quickly into his mouth before the client could see it.

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