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GSU Inducts Russell Family Into Business Hall Of Fame

By Tianna Faulkner Contributing Writer | 7/26/2013, 1:43 p.m.
Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business is giving the royal treatment to one of Atlanta’s first families ...
Donata Russell Major

Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business is giving the royal treatment to one of Atlanta’s first families of entrepreneurship.

Donata Russell Major (CEO of Concessions International), H. Jerome Russell (President of H. J. Russell & Company) and Michael Russell (CEO of H. J. Russell and Company) will be inducted into the college’s Business Hall of Fame together in September at the St. Regis hotel in Atlanta.

“Donata, Jerome and Michael have been tremendously successful as business and civic leaders, and personify the spirit of the Business Hall of Fame,” said Robinson College Dean, H. Fenwick Huss.

The Russell family has thrived in local and international business over the past six decades. They demonstrate that sports and entertainment are not the only ways African Americans can achieve financial success in America. They epitomize the merits of following the advice of a devoted father (construction and real estate titan Herman J. Russell, who was inducted into the Hall in 1985).

“We were born into a family where our father was an outstanding role model,” said Major. “We have big shoes to fill. It is a diverse empire that my father built.”

“It’s an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said CEO Michael Russell. “I’m proud of what we have done.”

For over 20 years, Major has played a vital role in Concessions International’s daily operations and management of 1,000 employees. The company’s portfolio comprises franchised, licensed and proprietary concepts, including bar and grill, casual dining, quick service, snacks and deli products.

Concessions International is a franchisee of major national brands, including Fresh To Order, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels. The company also operates Pemberton Café at the World of Coca-Cola and Paschal’s Restaurant in downtown Atlanta’s historic Castleberry district.

“My father never pushed us into the family business, but he exposed us,” said Major.

Her two brothers have demonstrated their skill and talent as entrepreneurs as well. Jerome Russell (B.B.A. ’85) president and chief operating officer of H.J. Russell & Company since 1995, serves as its visionary for strategic direction and new business development. During his tenure, his family company’s earnings have increased 20 percent each year, with annual sales exceeding $250 million.

Michael Russell (MBA, ’90) succeeded his father as CEO in 2003. The Russell organization employs more than 1,200 people and generates annual revenues of more than $300 million, with entities across major cities in the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We all recognize what we’re managing and what we have,” he said. “We need to be competitive with the competition, not with each other.”

“Being born into this family plays a major role in our success. It would’ve been a longer harder road if not. We are really blessed and don’t take our blessings lightly,” said Major.

George McKerrow, Jr., the president and CEO of Ted’s Montana Grill will be inducted along with the Russells. For more information about the Russell family businesses, visit www.hjrussell.com.