Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: March 2014

Wood Group started out as a modest size business which has served the local market in the oil industry. Thanks to the genius of Sir Ian Wood, the business has grown to become a global conglomerate that has operations in more than 50 countries. From 1967 to 2006, he served the company as Chief Executive and later on as Chairman until 2012.

Sir Ian Wood is Scottish in descent and Wood Group is a family business. He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland and was educated in Robert Gordon’s College and at the University of Aberdeen where he earned his degree in Psychology in 1964. He joined the family venture as managing director and worked his way up. For his contribution in the success of his business and for helping in the country’s economy, he was awarded the CBE in 1982 and was knighted two years after in the New Year Honors List.

As a business entrepreneur, his net worth is valued to be around $1.9 billion. It was on July 19, 2012 that he stepped down as chairman of his company and handed over the position to Allister Langlands.


GOME Group is considered as the largest consumer electronics retailer in China. The business was once managed by Huang Guangyu, the richest man in China in 2005 according to Times Magazine. He created the business from scratch, but because of several complaints and sneaky dealings of its management, the company has experienced a very abrupt fall.

GOME Electronics back in 2008 was considered the largest retailer of appliances in the country with estimated annual revenue of $6.3 billion. The company was publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange but when investigations started against its head person, the company’s shares ceased trading on November 24, 2008. In that same year, he was listed number one on the China Rich List by Huron Institute with an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion.

The decline of his control started early 2009 when he was trialed for several misconducts among which are stock market manipulation, tax evasion, and for bribing officials for several of his “illegal operations.” On that same year, he also stepped down as Chairman of the company he created. His trial was considered as one of the most sensational in the country and all eyes were on him as the justice system in China faces the most powerful man in the land. When the verdict came in, it resulted in Huang Guangyu’s imprisonment for 14 years. The scandalous exposé and the trial system served as a warning to the country’s business executives.

Despite him serving his term in prison, he still showed the country his power as he continued to run his business behind bars. Currently, his focus is on real estate aside from continuing his household appliance retail. He now owns a business he named Pengrun Investment and has substantial control over Eagle Vantage Asset Management.

Chen Xiao succeeded Huang when he was sent to prison, but in 2011 was forced to step down after Huang reasserted control. He also had plans of creating the world’s largest buoyant luxury shopping malls by bidding on the British Royal aircraft carrier, the HMS Ark Royal.

As a businessman, Kenneth Hendricks was best known for growing the shingle supply company ABC Supply to become the biggest provider of siding and roofing materials to contractors in the US. His net worth was over $2.6 billion at the time of his death, putting him at 91st place in the 2007 Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans. He started ABC Supply in 1982 and grew it to 400 locations with over 6,000 employees enjoying $3 billion in sales annually.

Hendricks was the son of a roofer so it was natural for him to pursue this line of business. He was strict in business and much of this was due to his experience as a roofer. But he started showing organizational prowess when he was just eight years old and overbooked as a lawn mower. Little Kenneth’s solution? He contracted out his services. Hendricks died in 2007 after falling from a construction site in his home.


Joyce Clyde Hall is the American businessman credited for founding Hallmark Cards. Born in 1891 to George and Nancy Hall, he was the youngest in the family. His unusual first name (for a boy) was taken from Isaac W. Joyce, a Methodist bishop who was in his hometown when he was born. His parents were very religious so the association was inevitable. The Halls were poor but this did not stop from becoming a pioneer and ultimately living the American dream.

When Joyce was 16, he and his brothers, William and Rollie, decided to open the Norfolk Post Card Company by pooling their money together. There wasn’t much of a market for imported cards at the time so their venture didn’t flourish. Two years later in 1910, an 18-year-old Joy had dropped out of high school and headed to Kansas City on a train with two shoeboxes of postcards. When he got there, he started out by calling on gift shops, bookstores, and drugstores and peddling wholesale products made by other people. Eventually business picked up, allowing Joyce to go to other towns accessible by train from the Midwestern rail center. His brother Rollie joined him and together they opened a specialty shop in the downtown area selling stationery, books, gifts, and post cards. William joined them in 1921 and in 1923 they opened Hall Brothers, Inc., the predecessor for what you know today as Hallmark Cards.

Hall usually went against conventional wisdom and this proved to be in his favor. In fact, if he didn’t push his way through the opposition, Hallmark Cards wouldn’t be where it is today. He built the company from the ground up, stepping aside in 1966 as Chief Executive Officer to let his son Donald take the reins. Still, he never really retired. Hall stayed on as chairman until the day he died in 1982, diligent as ever. The Hall Family Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life in Kansas City, was formed from his estate and that of his wife’s.

Jay Van Andel is best known for co-founding the Amway Corporation with Richard DeVos. A staunch supporter of free enterprise, he also became the Chairman for the US Chamber of Commerce between 1979 and 1980, later on becoming a part of the Senior Council between 1980 and 1985.

In 1996, with his wife Betty, he founded the Van Andel Institute, a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan focused on science education and disease research. Van Andel was also a member of the Heritage Foundation since 1985 and supported the Grand Rapids Public Museum immensely which led to the Van Andel Museum Center. His generosity also extended downtown, creating the Van Andel Arena. As a part of the Christian Reformed Church, Van Andel also held a special interest for Christian causes.

Apart from his philanthropic works, Van Andel was also known as a strong Republican Party supporter, contributing $475,000 for the Michigan State Republican Party and $2 million for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 alone.

Jack Crawford Taylor is the American businessman credited for founding the enterprise Rent-A-Car Company. With a net worth amounting to $12.8 billion, Taylor was considered to be not just one of the richest men in the US but in the entire world as well. Before he became a businessman, Taylor was an F6F Hellcat fighter aboard the USS Enterprise and USS Essex during the Second World War.

Jack Taylor was born in 1923 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Washington University in 1940 but dropped out to become part of the US Navy. He did really well out there, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Navy Air Medal during his time as a pilot. When the war ended, he worked at a Cadillac dealership in St. Louis where Taylor eventually became a sales manager. He then put up the Executive Leasing Company in 1957, which then became the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company in 1989. The company is named after the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise where Taylor served on during the war.

When Taylor began dabbling in his own business, he was operating with seven cars. By 1980, he was managing a fleet with 6,000 cars. Short of 10 years later, his fleet had grown even more to an impressive 50,000. It was also right around this time that the Executive Leasing Company was renamed to become the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company. By 1992, the company earned over $1 billion in revenues. By 2007, Enterprise also acquired Alamo Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental.

Much of what led to Taylor’s success in the car rental business has to do with the fact that he focused on the hometown market by providing home pickup services whereas his competitors concentrated on business rentals in the airports. This and his business credo of taking care of employees and customers first and just letting profits follow.

“No business, no problems. No problems, no business. Problems are opportunities for solutions.” This is what George Naddaff adhered to, the man responsible for starting the Boston Chicken, UFood Grill, a business brokerage franchise, and two daycare companies amongst others. Naddaff himself believes that salesmanship is in his blood, quipping that cutting him would simply ooze that out. His success could probably be traced to the fact that the man truly believes in selling what you believe in.

With Lebanese roots, Naddaff was born in 1930 in Boston. His father had a grocery store but The Depression came and took it away. It was the hard times though that cultivated the entrepreneur in him, starting with a stint shining shoes for sailors. He eventually made more money selling newspapers, working in a restaurant, and even conning his own mother to get $75 to get started on a job. Everything that Naddaff was successful at was the result of a problem needing a solution. And the same formula still works for him today.

Isaac Merritt Singer is the American inventor that brought dramatic improvements to the sewing machine, and the entrepreneur responsible for founding the Singer Corporation as it is known today. Many before Singer have patented designs for sewing machines but his had the most staying power because of the practicality of his ideas. It also didn’t hurt that his company made it easier to own a sewing machine at the time by allowing payments to be made in installments.

He started the I.M. Singer & Company in 1857 with his partner, Edward Clark. By 1860, the company had become the world’s biggest manufacturer of sewing machines. It was incorporated in 1863 as the Singer Manufacturing Company, with its biggest mass production factory built in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the same year. At that time, the company had already secured more than 22 patents for their sewing machines.

Before the success of the Singer Corporation, Singer had to go through a string of odd jobs to get by. It was during his stint as a mechanic that he started showing an affinity for machines, but his interest in acting was stronger so he quit his job and formed a traveling theater group instead called the Merritt Players. When Singer went broke and the theater group had to disband after nine years on the road, it was then that he went back to working as an apprentice mechanic. He was officially called an inventor in 1839 after a successful patent for a rock-drilling machine designed for the government. He also went into wood and metal carving, even opening his own factory, but this too didn’t pan out. While working as a sewing machine shop in 1850, Singer was asked to fix a Lerow and Blodgett model. What he came up with instead was his own version of a sewing machine, a better version, the one that started it all and put the Singer Corporation on the map.