Many reasons can be used to explain how a particular family became billionaires. Some became affluent due to inheritance, while others began by running simple businesses, which later grew into empires. Whatever the reason for the wealth, you will realize that unity ultimately contributed to their success. With unity, family members share business ideas or inheritance. In this article we will discuss the 20 richest families worldwide, and how they attained their wealth. Tag along.
20. The Lee Family ($8.4 billion)
Most of the family’s fortune is derived from Samsung. The company did not always produce electronic devices. When it was started in 1938 by Lee Byung-Chul, it exported fruits, vegetables, and fish. It began producing electronic items in 1969. When Lee passed on, his grandson Lee Kun-hee took over.
19. The S.C. Johnson Family ($21.2 billion)
This family is wealthy thanks to the establishment of SC Johnson. Samuel Curtis Johnson started the company in 1886 after he acquired a parquet flooring company. Later on, his son Herbert Fisk Johnson ran the company until 1928. Today, the company is managed by the fifth generation of the Johnsons. The company has a diverse portfolio of household cleaning products such as Glade air freshener, Pledge furniture polish, Windex window cleaner, Kiwi shoe polish, Shout detergent, and Ziploc bags. Besides producing cleaning products, the family is involved in wealth management, banking, and insurance businesses under the Johnson Financial Group. Johnson Financial Group was started by Helen Johnson-Leipold, a fourth-generation family member.
18. The Lauder Family ($32.3 billion)
It was Estee Lauder’s idea to start a family business called Estee Lauder in 1947. She started the family business after receiving her first major order of $800 worth of skincare products. Today, the family business has 31 different makeup brands, which generate $14.3 billion in revenue. Estee’s business became successful in the 1990s when she embarked on a buying spree. During that time, she acquired Bobbi Brown, La Mer, and MAC. Currently, Estee’s granddaughter Aerin is the image and style director of Estee Lauder.
17. The Rausing Family ($32.5 billion)
Hans Rausing and his brother Gad Rausing inherited Tetra Pak in 1983 after their father passed on. By the time the brothers inherited the company, it was already the major leader in food packaging. While Hans’ father was alive, he worked as the CEO. In the 1980s, Hans opted out of the business and sold the share of his business to Gad for $7 billion.
16. The Hartono Family ($32.5 billion)
This family is successful largely due to its cigarette company, Djarum. Djarum is the third-largest manufacturer of clove cigarettes in the world. Due to the ban on clove cigarettes in the United States, the company mainly focuses on producing premium cigarettes. Oei Wei Gwan bought the cigarette company in 1950. When Oei died in 1963, he left it to his sons, R. Budi Hartono and Michael Hartono.
15. The Albrecht Family ($32.6 billion)
This family made their fortune through their chain of discount grocery stores called Aldi. Today, Aldi has at least 10,000 stores worldwide. The idea of the family business began when Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother owned a small grocery store. The sons figured out ways of expanding the small store into the major business it is today. Since the family had at least 300 stores by the 1960s, the sons split the assets in half.
14. The Pritzker Family ($33.7 billion)
Their wealthy journey began with A.N. Pritzker. He began investing in real estate and companies while working in his father’s law firm. At some point, he left the firm to focus on his investments. Eventually, the family figured out a way of shielding A.N.’s investments from taxes through a network of trusts. By 1999, the family had built an empire of more than 200 companies.
13. The Kwok Family ($34 billion)
This family became wealthy once Kwok Tak-seng established a real estate company called Sun Hung Kai Properties in 1963. He decided to venture into every sector of the property business, from residential to commercial. When he passed away in 1990, his company was passed down to his oldest son, Walter.
12. The Thomson Family ($34.8 billion)
Roy Thomson is responsible for the massive wealth this family enjoys today. It all began in 1934 when he acquired a newspaper in Ontario, Canada. Soon after, he began buying up more newspapers and radio stations. By the 1950s, he owned 19 newspapers and was the president of the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publisher’s Association. Still, he continued to expand his media empire by buying more newspapers and T.V. stations. In the 1970s, he had already established his company, The Thomson Corporation, and had more than 200 newspapers in Canada. Before his death in 1976, he appointed his grandson David as his son Kenneth’s eventual successor and David’s son as Kenneth’s successor. When David became the chairman of The Thomson Corporation, he acquired Reuters. Additionally, the family has investments in a company called Woodbridge.
11. The Quandt Family ($35 billion)
The family became successful once Herbert Quandt turned BMW from a struggling car company to one of the largest luxury car companies. Herbert served as the owner of BMW before allowing his daughter Susanne and son Stefan to take over. The children have become one of the wealthiest people in Germany due to their position in BMW.
10. The Ferrero Family ($36.2 billion)
This family owned a pastry shop in Italy in the 1940s. Within no time, they turned into a factory known as the Ferrero Group. The success of the family business has been attributed to Giovanni Ferrero’s effective sales network. In the 1950s, the family decided to start producing candy for the international market. Within no time, the family had offices in Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In 2015, the family made two acquisitions. First, it acquired Oltan, which trades in hazelnuts in Turkey. Later, it acquired Thorntons, a chocolate confectionery company from the United Kingdom.
9. The Cox Family ($36.9 billion)
The success of this family can be traced to James M. Cox. James started as an apprentice for Middletown Weekly Signal. Later, he got a job as Paul Sorg’s assistant in Washington, D.C. With the help of Paul, James bought Dayton Evening News. Once he took over, he turned it into an afternoon newspaper house that focused on local and international news. In 1908, he ran for Congress as a Democrat but later concentrated on restructuring his company, Cox Enterprises, in 1920. When James died, his son James Cox Jr. became chairman of Cox Enterprises and Cox Broadcasting Corporation. Cox Jr. began acquiring several small cable companies in Pennsylvania in the early 1960s. When Cox Jr. died in 1974, his two sisters, Barbara Cox and Anne Cox, took over. Today, the Cox empire is run by Jim Kennedy (James Cox’s grandson) and Anne Cox, who is the majority owner with a 50% stake.
8. The Chearavanont Family ($37.9 billion)
The family is behind Charoen Pokphand Group, which is the world’s largest producer of animal feed and livestock. This company further grew in 2017 following a surge in the value of its holding in Chinese insurer, Ping An. In the beginning, two brothers, Chia Ek Chor and Choncharoen Chiaravanont would sell seeds to Thai farmers. Today, the company is run by Chia Ek Chor’s son, Dhanin.
7. The Wertheimer Family ($48.6 billion)
Alain and Gerard Wertheimer began to become affluent when their grandfather, Frechman Pierre Wertheimer, collaborated with Chanel in 1924. Chanel agreed to partner with Frechman because it felt it could sell its perfumes to more customers. Before 1924, Chanel’s perfumes were only available to clients from Chanel’s Paris boutiques. In 1954, Frechman officially took over Chanel. Alain and Gerard assumed the role of co-owners of Chanel in 1996 after their father passed on. Since the brothers are now in their 70s, it is unclear who will take over from Chanel should they die.
6. The Dumas Family ($53.1 billion)
Thanks to Hermes, this family has been wallowing in affluence since its formation. Hermes is a French luxury design house that specializes in leather goods, lifestyle accessories, jewelry, perfumery, and home furnishings. Thierry Hermes started the company in 1837. Initially, Thierry made leather products for only nobles and royalties. When his son Charles Emile took over Hermes, he introduced saddlery as a new product for the company. While Charles continued introducing new products into the company, the Dumas came into the scene. It all happened when Charles decided to train his sons-in-law, Robert Dumas, Francis Puech, and Rene Guerrand. Robert introduced accessories like scarves and belts to Hermes. He would later take over the company. When he retired in 2005, he handed the company over to his cousin, Axel Dumas.
5. The Ambani Family ($64.5 billion)
This family became wealthy after Dhirubhai Ambani founded Reliance Industries. Things took a wrong turn after Dhirubhai died without leaving behind a will. As a result, his two sons, Mukesh and Anil, fought for control of the company. Fortunately, their mother, Kokilaben, helped the sons to reach a deal and split up the business. Mukesh became the chairman and managing director for Reliance Industries. He made the company wealthier by signing major deals with Google and Facebook. However, people credit Mukesh’s wife, Nita, for the company’s growth. That is because she had been involved in the marketing and branding of the company.
4. The Kochs ($124 billion)
This family became successful after Fred Koch started Koch Industries in 1940. Koch Industries began as an oil company but later started processing items like minerals, paper, and fertilizers. Later, the company became successful enough to acquire firms like Guardian Industries, Molex, Invista, etc. Following Fred’s passing, his estate was divided evenly among his four sons; Charles, Fred, David, and William. Due to certain legal and boardroom battles, Charles and David became majority owners. Ultimately, Charles made the family business successful by partnering with several companies.
3. The Mars Family ($142 billion)
This family owns Mars Inc., which is a successful confectionary company that bears their last name. According to Biz Vibe, Mars Inc. was ranked the No.1 successful chocolate company with average annual net sales of $18 billion. Some of the brands produced by the company include Snickers, M&Ms, and the Milky Way bar. Franklin Mars started Mars Inc. in 1911. From a young age, he had learned how to hand dip chocolate candies from his mother. He decided to open this company with his second wife, Ethel. Before he passed on at 50, he passed down his company to his eldest son, Forrest Mars.
2. The Waltons ($238 billion)
This family is successful because of their family business, Walmart. According to Forbes, the business is the reason the family is the richest in the United States. Sam Walton founded Walmart in 1962 with his brother, Bud. By 1967, the company had opened 24 branches. Besides investing with Walmart, Sam decided to diversify his portfolio by investing with Arvest Bank. The family owns 96% of its shares in the bank, which happens to be worth around $45 billion.
1. The House of Saud ($1.4 trillion)
The House of Saud is a Saudi Arabian royal family that comprises 15,000 family members. Interestingly, only 2,000 family members hold a majority of the family’s wealth. The primary source of income for the family is oil. According to Naira Metrics, they own 98.2% of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco. The oil company controls the vast amount of oil reserves in the Arabian Peninsula. This family is known for its luxurious lifestyle. For instance, they once bought a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting, a French chateau for $300 million, a $500 million yacht, and the list goes on. Despite living large, the family habitually contributes money to charitable organizations.
So far, the article is full of family members who worked hard for their wealth. Therefore, it is possible to be wealthy without occupying a political seat. So if you aspire to be as rich as the families, let their journey into affluence inspire you.
Written by Allen Lee
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