Nottingham-based Indian-origin entrepreneur Nat Puri has been made an honorary citizen of Markt Schonberg, a town in Germany where one of his companies is based.
The honour was bestowed on Puri by the mayor of Markt Schonberg, Peter Siegert. The Citizen Medal is the second highest honour that a rural community can award in Germany.
Siegert said the medal commemorated exemplary behaviour by Puri, who came to England from India 40 years ago.
He owns Bolta Industrial and Building Profiles, a company specialising in plastic injections mouldings for the building and furniture industry.
Puri bought the company, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, in 1985 for 800,000 pounds when its turnover was over 6.5 million pounds. He has since invested 16 million pounds which includes a new factory.
Bolta's current turnover is 31 million pounds and staff numbers have more than doubled from 116 to 270. Puri today employs more than 3,500 staff at his companies around the world which include paper mills and the manufacture of tea-bag paper and cigarette tips.
Siegert said the award honoured a personality who had "immensely committed himself to the needs and interests of Markt Schonberg".
He added: "By honouring you with our community's Citizen Medal, we want to express how, with your actions, you have positively influenced the living conditions for all of us in a material and spiritual sense."
He told Puri: "The community is indebted to you and we want to express our gratefulness with this medal."
The citation recognised Puri's "outstanding achievement" in the town's economic realm. Siegert said Bolta's products proved innovation was the best guarantee of success and the products were known worldwide.
He added: "The global marketing strategy is a fundamental prerequisite for the economic success of the company. Entrepreneurial vision, actions based on long-term considerations, as well as motivated and technically highly-qualified employees have made possible what has been achieved up to today."
Puri said he was immensely surprised when the award was sprung upon him last week by the mayor. He said: "I was at a function when the mayor said I should listen to his speech. It was a complete surprise."
"The Germans are very reserved. For them to give me this honour made me lost for words. It is fantastic and I was very moved."