Budingers, Khan & Martinelli named to Del. Business Hall of Fame

by Danica Brendon

The Delaware Business Hall of Fame has announced its Class of 2023, honoring individuals who have made significant contributions to the business community in the First State. This year’s inductees include Bill and Don Budinger, founders of Rodel Inc., Ayanna Khan, the president and CEO of the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce, and Robert Martinelli, the group publisher, president, and CEO of Today Media.

The Class of 2023 will be celebrated at a ceremony on October 26th at the DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington. They join a distinguished group of more than 75 other leaders who have been honored since the hall was established in 1990. Inductees are selected based on their business, industry, or community accomplishments that have positively influenced economic and workforce development in the region.

Bill Budinger founded Rodel Inc. in 1969 in a garage in Wilmington. Under his leadership as chair and CEO for over 30 years, the company grew into a global leader of precision surface technologies. Rodel products were used in the production of semiconductors worldwide. His brother Don joined the company shortly after its inception and played a crucial role in its growth. The company was eventually sold to Rohm and Haas in 1999 and is now part of DuPont. The Budinger brothers also founded a nonprofit foundation focused on state education policy, carrying on the Rodel name.

Ayanna Khan, sensing a need during the COVID pandemic in 2002, founded the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce. The chamber provides a platform for Black entrepreneurs and professionals to connect, collaborate, and thrive. Under Khan’s leadership, the organization has grown exponentially and become a powerful advocate for minority businesses in the state. Khan is herself an entrepreneur, having launched a small business consulting firm called Khan Consulting LLC in 2015.

Robert Martinelli, a New York native, arrived in Wilmington in 1982 to take over Delaware Today magazine as part of his family’s publishing company. He has overseen the growth of the core lifestyle brand statewide and launched new products like Delaware Business Times. Martinelli’s contributions to the state’s social calendar include the Best of Delaware program for small businesses and the annual summertime Best Of party. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

The Delaware Business Hall of Fame, originally created in partnership with Hagley Museum & Library, has expanded its scope over the years. In addition to honoring historical and retired industry leaders, the hall now recognizes current and contemporary leaders who serve as role models for Junior Achievement students through innovation, entrepreneurship, and strategic management. The selection process has become more diverse and inclusive, with several Laureates of Color being inducted in recent years.

Tickets for the 2023 Delaware Business Leaders Hall of Fame reception and induction ceremonies are now available. The event promises to be a celebration of the achievements and contributions of these exceptional individuals to the Delaware business landscape.

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