From humble beginnings in his native Shanghai, Charles Zhang came to America in 1980 with twenty dollars in his pocket. He worked as a dishwasher and gas station attendant before founding Pick Up Stix, the popular take-out chain, and Zion Enterprises, a real estate company dedicated to revitalizing communities. He has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and is the winner of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, recognized by Congress and awarded to immigrants who have made a significant contribution to the United States.
Charlie executed his first Pick Up Stix with passion, hard work and deep insight to customer demands. Within a decade, Charlie had built an empire with more than 100 Pick Up Stix locations, and a commissary that streamlined the preparation of each menu item, ensuring that every restaurant would serve the freshest products available with quality and consistency. He sold his restaurant enterprise along with the distribution center to TGI Fridays in 2001 for $50 million dollars. He then established Zion Enterprises, a real estate development company that has been involved in over 200-million dollars worth of commercial, retail and residential projects in the Western United States. Revitalizing communities and adding value at every level are among Zion Enterprises’ core tenets to this day. Not content to rest on his laurels, Charlie began his next entrepreneurial evolution in 2004, with Aseptic Solutions, a technologically advanced bottling process to extend the shelf life of premium organic beverages.
The state-of-the-art aseptic beverage bottling company, Aseptic Solutions was sold to Glanbia Nutrition Inc. in 2012 for more than $60 million. Among his awards are, “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst and Young and the “Spirit of Life” award from the City of Hope. In addition, he received the “Distinguished Business for Science and Technology” award, and “Beijing International Entrepreneur of the Year”. He also serves on the advisory board for Chapman University, School of Business. Honored by the opportunity to give back he subsidized the rebuilding of elementary schools after a massive earthquake in Szechuan and most recently, funding the building of a series of elementary schools near Nanjing.
Managing capital for the greater good occupies 100% of his passion and attention.