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Joseph Antonini

2011 Inductee

In 1986, Joseph Antonini was named president and COO of Kmart Corporation. A year later, he was named chairman and CEO of Kmart. Since retiring from Kmart, Antonini formed JEA Enterprises, a business investment firm.

Born in Morgantown, W.Va., Joseph Antonini was the oldest of five children. His father worked in construction and later went into the footwear business. Joe credits his parents for his strong work ethic and sense of integrity. At an early age, Joe had a Sunday paper route. He also held summer landscaping jobs and sold concessions in Atlantic City to the convention crowds. 

He took saxophone lessons at 8, and formed a band at 15. He put himself through West Virginia University with a rock-and-roll group he formed called The Bonnevilles. As he was about to graduate from college with a degree in business and management, Antonini set out to interview with some of the area's largest department stores. He also sought advice from the manager of the store where he'd worked part time during school. His manager suggested going into the mass merchandising discount business, which was beginning to expand rapidly. 

Antonini joined S.S. Kresge in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Six months later he entered the service, but returned to the company upon his release. From Kresge's store in Bayshore, Long Island, Antonini began his climb to the top of the company with promotions about every two years.

Joe Antonini has long been committed to helping his community. He has helped raise funds for the Michigan Cancer Foundation, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Boys and Girls Club of Michigan, the Leukemia Society of America and the United Way. In 1992, he was given the "Man of the Year Award" from Boys' Town of Italy in New York.