January 10, 2012
Robert H. Castellini - Great Living Cincinnatian
This story is the first in a series recognizing each member of the 2012 class of Great Living Cincinnatians. Awards will be presented at the Chamber Annual Dinner on February 16, 2012. More info
As the principal owner, president and chief executive officer of the Cincinnati Reds, Robert H. Castellini is not only the keeper of one of the community’s most revered institutions, but his success at assembling a winning team has a major influence on determining how we feel about ourselves as a region.
But as well-known as he is in his role with the Reds, many Cincinnatians do not recognize the breadth of his involvement in the business and civic life of our community.
His success is grounded in the way that he grew his family’s business, the Castellini Group of Companies. After receiving an A.B. in Economics from Georgetown University, spending two years as a U.S. Army Officer and completing his MBA at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967, he returned to Cincinnati to work in the family wholesale-produce business.
Through what friend and business partner Tom Williams describes as “extraordinary entrepreneurial efforts,” Bob transformed a relatively small family company into one of the largest fresh-produce distributors in the country and one of the region’s biggest privately-owned companies. And in doing so, he broadened the business to include trucking, private equity and real-estate development.
The skills Castellini honed in business made him a valuable community leader. At no time was this clearer than when leadership was needed to move forward a development on the 18-acre central riverfront. After more than six years of frustrated efforts to jumpstart development, Hamilton County Commissioners turned to Castellini in 2006 to lead the Banks Working Group.
Today, The Banks has moved from dream to plan to hundreds of fully-leased apartments and a growing number of successful restaurants and retail shops.
Castellini is a lifelong baseball fan and had served as a minority investor with several major league baseball teams. But when Carl Lindner, Jr. decided to sell the Reds after the 2005 season, Castellini moved to assemble a Cincinnati-based ownership group.
The effort was “truly a fiduciary endeavor for the benefit of the city and its need for hometown ownership” said Williams. And under his leadership, the Reds have thrived.
Castellini also has assumed a wide variety of other roles. He has chaired many boards including the Cincinnati Business Committee, TriHealth, Good Samaritan Hospital, the Cincinnati Zoo, the Queen City Club, the Commercial and the Commonwealth Clubs of Cincinnati, the Joint Banks Steering Committee, and the Cincinnati Equity Fund. He also has served on the boards of 3CDC, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Cincinnati Arts & Technology Center, Xavier University, Denison University, Babson College and other organizations.