Milan-based Group O announced today the death of its founder and chairman, Robert Ontiveros, who passed away Tuesday at age 83.
In 1974, Bob and Blenda Ontiveros founded Bi-State Packaging selling packaging materials out of the back of their family station wagon. That small, family-run business grew into Group O – a multi-faceted business enterprise specializing in supply chain, packaging, and incentive marketing solutions, according to the company website With more than 1,000 employees across 40 locations, Group O has been recognized as one of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States.
Ontiveros’ influence extended into the Quad Cities community with the generous support of many QC organizations, including Black Hawk College Foundation, Augustana College, Western Illinois University, Niabi Zoological Association, and the Community Health Care Clinic — with construction funded by Bob and Blenda to provide critically important low-cost care to those without a primary physician, the company said.
The couple’s leadership, commitment, and positive community influence were evident in their philanthropic endeavors dedicated to supporting initiatives within the immigrant and minority communities. These efforts included West Gateway Partners and Mercado on Fifth — an open-air night market in Moline’s Floreciente neighborhood that features live entertainment, food trucks, and local vendors.
Additionally, Ontiveros served as a trustee of Augustana and was an active member of both the Illinois and U.S. Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, along with other community and business organizations, such as Boys & Girls Club of the Mississippi Valley and Junior Achievement.
The Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce — which Ontiveros founded — honored him Wednesday morning in a Facebook post:
“Bob worked tirelessly to raise money for our annual gala and found long-lasting partnerships for us along the way. When he founded us in 2008, he welcomed guests and shared examples of how he benefited and succeeded in his own business by joining the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,” the group said.
“He invited Hispanic owned businesses and professionals to play active roles in the creation of the first steps to be taken by the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It is through Bob’s vision and passion that the Hispanic Chamber can support, promote, and enhance the growth and success of businesses and organizations by leveraging assets, contributions, and expertise of our unique Hispanic and multicultural identities today.
“Bob was a strong community leader, a kindhearted person, and a visionary,” the Hispanic Chamber wrote. “He shaped and changed our community to what it is today; for his impact has forever changed the Quad Cities area and beyond. We are grateful to have been a part of his journey and we will continue to work towards his dream of a world where there is equality in business.”
“As a business leader and philanthropist to our community, Bob Ontiveros made our region a better place,” United Way Quad Cities posted on LinkedIn. “His dedication to family and community will leave a lasting impact. Our hearts go out to all those who knew him, especially his granddaughter, Maria, who is a board member for United Way. We share our condolences for the loss of a great man.”
Throughout his years of leadership, Ontiveros was recognized with numerous honors, including:
- Order of Lincoln — the State of Illinois’ highest honor, recognizing his professional and community achievements
- Outstanding Community Leadership — State of Illinois Comptroller
- U.S. Department of Commerce — Legacy Award
- Minority Business Hall of Fame — Inductee
- Black Hawk College Alumni Hall of Fame – Inductee
- Lifetime Achievement Award — National Minority Supplier Development Council
- Lifetime Achievement Award — Chicago Minority Business Development Council
- Lifetime Achievement Award — Negocios Now
- Honorary Doctorate — Augustana College
“The loss of ‘Bob O’ will be felt throughout the Group O family and the many communities he supported,” said Kimberly Fox, Group O Vice President of Human Resources. “We will miss him more than words can express. He was not just our founder, but a hard-working man of character who truly believed that everyone wins when people get an opportunity to show what they can do.”