John Mackey is a businessman and writer who is best known as the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. He is one of the most influential people in the organic food industry. The businessman has become a wealthy man as a result of his business endeavors, and John Mackey’s net worth is now $85 million. Here is how the businessman accrued his wealth.
Mackey’s Early Life
John Mackey was born in Houston, Texas, on August 15, 1953. He studied philosophy and religion at the University of Texas in Austin but then switched to studying at Trinity University. Despite being a student for almost six years, Mackey never achieved a degree. While he was a student, Mackey worked for a vegetarian co-op. Mackey had a strained relationship with his mother, as she believed he should do something more productive than retailing. On the other hand, Mackey had a strong relationship with his father, who was supportive of his work and was an investor in Whole Food Market. Mackey claims that his father taught him many valuable life lessons.
His Early Business Endeavors
At college, John Mackey was dating a woman called Renee Lawson, who he had met while living in a vegetarian housing co-op. The couple decided to drop out of college and start their own business in 1978. To start their business, they raised $35,000 and borrowed a further $10,000. They wanted to go into the health food industry, and there were only a few small health food stores in Austin at that time. Mackey and Lawson decided to call their business SaferWay. The building they rented was a three-story structure. They ran their health food market from the first floor and a health food restaurant from the second. For a short while, the former couple lived on the third floor above their businesses. A year after opening, Whole Foods Market suffered a disaster that could almost have caused the end of the business. Austin suffered devastating floods, and almost all the inventory at Whole Foods Market was destroyed, and the store suffered significant damage. However, with the help of staff, lenders, and the community, the store was reopened just 28 days later.
The first store outside of Austin opened in 1984 in Houston, followed by another store in Dallas. In 1988, the company expanded when it purchased The Whole Food Co., and this led to the company expanding into New Orleans. By the following year, there was also a store in Palo Alto, California. In 1992, the company made its initial public offering. Throughout the rest of the 1990s, the company continued to expand. Its growth was rapidly fuelled by the acquisition of several more natural food chains, including Bread & Circus, Wellspring Grocery, Bread of Life, Merchant of Vino, Allegro Coffee Company, Fresh Fields Markets, Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Foods, and Nature Heartland.
During the 2000s, the company continued to grow with further acquisition of companies such as Harry’s Farmers Market and Wild Oats Market, Inc. It was during this period that the company also opened its first store in Canada with a location in Toronto. In 2005, the company opened a flagship store in Austin, Texas, above which the company’s headquarters is based. Mackey resigned as chairman of the company in 2009 but remained in the position of CEO. He was replaced as chairman by John B Elstrott, who Mackey felt had the right experience, skills, and qualities to carry the company forwards. In 2017, Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. Although the company is now owned by Amazon, John Mackey remains the company’s CEO. Since Amazon purchased the company, it has continued to expand internationally, with stores in Canada and the UK. Currently, there are more than 500 store locations across the United States, Canada, and the UK, and the company also operates as an online retailer. There is more than 91,000 staff working across 12 categorized geographical areas.
Founding Whole Foods
After two years of running their business, Mackey and Lawson merged their business with Clarksville Natural Grocery, which was run by Craig Weller and Mark Siles. The new business this created was renamed Whole Foods Market. Mackey, Lawson, Weller, and Siles are all considered co-founders of Whole Foods Market. The new business was in a 10,500-square-feet property in Austin, which was considerably larger than competitor’s health food shops, and the staff grew to 19 people. Unlike SaferWay, Whole Foods Market also sold meat products.
Although he is best known as the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey is also a writer. He co-wrote the bestselling book ‘Conscious Capitalism,’ which was published in 2013. Outside of his career, Mackey serves on the board of directors for various non-profit organizations. These include the Humane Society of the United States, Global Animal Partnership, Students for Liberty, and Conscious Capitalism.
John Mackey’s Net Worth
John Mackey’s successful business endeavors mean that he is a wealthy man. According to Celebrity Net Worth, John Mackey’s net worth is $85 million. He has predominantly made this money as the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. He has also made some money from publishing a book. Mackey has managed to accrue his wealth despite working for almost no money these days. He announced that he was cutting his salary to just $1 a year in 2006. He said he had plenty of money and wanted to work for enjoyment rather than for financial reasons.
The Businessman’s Personal Life
After splitting from Renee Lawson, with whom he co-founded Whole Foods Market, John Mackey was in a long-term relationship with Mary Kay Hagen, although the former couple never married. In 1991, Mackey married Deborah Morin. The couple does not have any children. During the week, the couple lives in their home in Austin. At the weekends, they spend time on their 720-acre ranch just west of Austin.
Written by Allen Lee
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