Article

 

By Shia Kapos

Article in Crane’s Chicago Business  from April 03, 2014

Jim Mullen, a former Chicago police officer shot in the line of duty who remade his life as an entrepreneur, is looking to take his product national.

Mr. Mullen is CEO of Chicago-based Mullen Foods, which makes applesauce based on his mother’s recipe. It’s already in 400 stores in Chicago and the Midwest.

Eighteen years ago, a bullet went through his cheek and spine and left him paralyzed. “There aren’t a lot of jobs for a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic,” he said during an interview this week. “I had to invent something. I wanted to keep busy and I wanted to be part of the big picture.”

He worked with family to create the first jars sold at Happy Foods on Devon Avenue, where his mother shopped when he was growing up. That was in 2007. Today, his applesauce is sold in Jewel stores and recently secured a spot on shelves at Mariano’s markets.

“I loved working as a police officer and I still miss it,” said Mr. Mullen, whose wife also is a police officer and whose daughter is headed to college. “But things happen in life, and you have to go with it and change your course of action.”

As he explores online partnerships and a chance to sell his applesauce at Disneyland, he’s also looking for investors and a management team.

Some of the proceeds from the business, which sees about $300,000 in annual revenue, are donated to theChicago Police Memorial Foundation, which assists families of injured officers. “It’s been a lifeline for me,” he told me. “I feel I need to pay it back.”

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