Born in 1949 in China, Charles Chang grew up in Taiwan. At age 22, he came to America as an international student at the University of Mississippi where he received an MS degree in Chemical Engineering. He continued his studies at Rutgers University, earning an MS in Packaging Science and Engineering, and later obtained an MBA from Farleigh Dickinson University in 1978 and an APC in Marketing from NYU in 1979. Before he started Topline in 1982, he gained corporate experience at Lever Brothers, Avon and Airwick Industries.
Since founding Topline, Mr. Chang has transformed his company from an importing business to a vertically integrated manufacturing operation that is emerging as one of the global leaders in the cosmetic packaging industry. Topline has its headquarters in New Jersey and more than 1,000 employees, operates factories worldwide in China, U.S., and Mexico. Additional corporate offices are located in Paris, San Paulo and Shanghai. Under Mr. Chang’s leadership, Topline has grown at a 30 percent annual compounding rate from 2001 to 2008 and was ranked as one of New Jersey’s top 50 fastest growing companies for five years in a row.
“I came to America 43 years ago as an international student. I studied, worked and build a business. In between, I got married and raised a family. There have been many people who have played important roles in my life. They lend a hand, helped and supported me along the way. I do feel that I am a truly blessed person for so many good things that happened to me,” said Chang during the ceremony.
The National Ethnic Coalition (NECO) was founded in 1986 and is the awarding body of the Ellis Island Medals of Honor. The Medal embodies the spirit of America in celebration of patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity. This event seeks to single out high profile individuals who have made it their mission to share with those less fortunate their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents and selfless generosity; all while maintaining the traditions of their ethnic heritage as they uphold the ideals and spirit of America. NECO remains dedicated to the maintenance and restoration of America’s greatest symbol of its immigrant history, Ellis Island. As the Medal is based on merit, there are no ‘winners’, only recipients who are recognized for their contributions to America.
Its recipients included six US presidents, Mohammad Ali, Bob Hope, Joe DiMaggio, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump. Last year it honoured Hubert Guerrand-Hermes and Xavier Guerrand-Hermes as International Award recipients. From the cosmetic industry, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder were also among the recipients.
A visionary man!
“From his earliest days in the cosmetics industry as a packaging engineer and later as president of Topline Products, Mr. Chang has distinguished himself as a forward-thinking, long-range visionary”, stated the communiqué. “He was a pioneer in introducing packaging solutions from the Orient to North America and among the first to combine that manufacturing with filled cosmetics made in China. These two achievements have made Topline unique in the beauty industry: the company stands apart as a supplier of complete turnkey solutions for customers. Mr. Chang is also recognized as a creative innovator, obtaining more than 30 utility patents worldwide. Persistent in finding solutions to problems when others typically give up, he lives by his own motto - ‘No Way. No Way.’ (There is no way that there is no way.) But this dynamic attitude is balanced by his genuine concern and compassion for others, always lending a hand to help - ‘a businessman with a heart’ as one of his colleagues described him.”
Mr. Chang was inducted into the prestigious Packaging Hall of Fame in 2007 by the New Jersey Packaging Executives Club - an honour only given at the senior level to executives who have made a major contribution to the industry. He also received the distinguished Asian Business Leadership Award in 2009 from the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC) and Wells Fargo Bank. He founded and is chairman of Rutgers Packaging Engineering Advisory Board, a member of Industry Advisory Board of the School of Engineering at Rutgers University, and also a member of Board Overseers at the Rutgers Foundation.
This year, in addition to Charles Chang and Yue-Sai Kan, the other personalities singled out were FOX Business Network Anchor and Global Markets Editor Maria Bartiromo, hit reality series So You Think You can Dance creator and celebrity judge Nigel Lythgoe, Heavyweight Champion of the World Evander Holyfield, Ambassador David Thorne, Chairman of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs Rep. Ed Royce.