Ron Burkle, one of the preeminent investors in retail, hospitality, technology and distribution industries, is also a three-time Stanley Cup champion as co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Burkle teamed with Mario Lemieux to buy the team out of bankruptcy in September, 1999, and together they have become one of the outstanding ownership duos in professional sports, winning three Cups from 2009-2017
Among Burkle's many significant contributions to the Penguins was his essential role in negotiations for a new arena. PPG Paints Arena is considered one of the finest indoor facilities in North America and has attracted many national-level events to Pittsburgh, including NCAA basketball and hockey. But he also helped create a winning mindset for the Penguins organization both on and off the ice.
Although Burkle prefers to operate quietly and behind the scenes, Lemieux praises his immense role in the team's success.
"Ron is one of the main reasons we still have hockey in Pittsburgh," Lemieux told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If I was not able to buy the Penguins and have Ron as our top investor, I don't think the Penguins would be here today. He's a great guy and a very smart businessman. He loves Pittsburgh, he loves the Penguins. I think people should know that."
Under the leadership of Lemieux and Burkle, the Penguins have sold out every game for 11-plus seasons and consistently ranked among the most fan-friendly and community-minded teams in the NHL and all of pro sports.
The Penguins have earned 12 straight playoff berths and reached the conference finals five times in the past 11 years, in addition to the three Cups. The team's solid foundation of ownership has enabled hockey management to spend to the salary cap, sign many of the team's core players to long-term contracts and put a competitive team on the ice year after year.
Burkle founded the Yucaipa Companies in 1986 and has served as Chairman of the Board and controlling shareholder of numerous companies, including Americold, Soho House, Golden State Foods, Dominick's, Fred Meyer, Ralphs and Food4Less.
Ron is Co-Chairman of the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA and is broadly involved in the community. He is a member of the Board of The Scripps Research Institute, the National Urban League and Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy. He is a trustee of the Carter Center, and AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). Ron was the Founder and Chairman of the Ralphs/Food4Less Foundation and the Fred Meyer Inc. Foundation. He was a member of the board of Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: OXY), KB Home (NYSE: KBH), Kaufman & Broad S.A. (Euronext: KOF), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
He has received numerous honors and awards, incuding the AFL-CIO's Murray Green Meany Kirkland Community Service Award, the Los Angeles County Federation Man of the Year, the Los Angeles County Boy Scouts Jimmy Stewart Person of the Year Award and the APLA Commitment to Life Award.