2011 Faithful Citizen Award Winner
Mr. Joe Tortorice Jr., the 2011 Faithful Citizen Award Winner, grew up in the food business, helping his father Joe Sr. in the family’s neighborhood grocery store in Beaumont, Texas. At the age of 28, Joe and several friends opened their own sandwich and soup shop and called it Jason’s Deli. Now, 35 years later, that shop is still going strong in the same location, and so are 230 locations, now spread among 28 states. Those friends of Joe are still key officers in the parent company, Deli Management, Inc., along with his children, Jay, Rob and Ashley.
Along the way, Joe has picked up many awards, including the honor of being named “Citizen of the Year” by the city of Beaumont.
Joe attributes his success to the people he has served, namely his employees. He calls his business philosophy “servant leadership,” which means doing more for employees than just paying them well. Joe continues to foster a culture of encouragement, humility, gratitude, generosity, accountability and commitment. He considers employees’ lives away from work with their families an integral part of their contribution to the company and has endorsed a 48-hour work week with two consecutive days off, something unheard of in the industry.
Through the Jason’s Deli Fishing School, named for the “teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime” adage, his company takes hourly workers without a college degree and turns them into managers, a source of fully one-third of his management team. In addition, he established the Jason’s Deli
Leadership Institute. Rather than focus solely on additional management training, its focus is on personal development and enrichment. Being privately owned, Joe can reinvest his profits into his people – his most cherished resource.
Clearly, spirituality is at the heart of Joe’s success as a friend, husband, father, employer and business owner. He is a parishioner at Saint Anthony’s Basilica in Beaumont and a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Every summer, he makes a weekend Ignatian retreat at Manresa in Louisiana. Joe puts his faith into practice each and every day, personally and professionally, and in the community at large. Joe Tortorice, Jr. is a most worthy recipient of the Center for Faith and Culture’s first Faithful Citizen Award.