Jim Davis. The richest Greek on the planet
Jim Davis is the richest businessman of Greek origin on the planet today.
This Greek billionaire is not only one of the most powerful expats in the United States but is, in fact, currently the richest Greek-born businessman in the world.
The mogul recently ranked 134th on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America and is ranked 380th on the Forbes list of the richest billionaires in the world, with his personal fortune currently estimated at $ 6.5 billion. .
Who is Jim Davis?
But who is this billionaire with an anglicized name who earns more than Tom Gores and John Catsimatidis, or Filippos Niarchos, Vardis Vardinogiannis, Aristotelis Mystakidis, and others of Greek descent on the Forbes 400 list?
Davis was born in Massachusetts to Greek immigrant parents in 1943.
Davis began his career working for the bussing tables in his father’s restaurants.
He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry from Middlebury College in 1966.
In 1972, on the day of the famous Boston Marathon, Davis bought a small Boston shoe company and, with his six employees, made 30 pairs of running shoes each day.
Fast forward to today, New Balance employs 4,000 people, produces more than 4 million pairs of shoes in the United States per year, and ranks among the most successful business organizations in the world.
How to become a billionaire
Entrepreneurial instinct and insight have never failed in Jim Davis, the man who built the New Balance empire from the ground up.
Those same qualities, however, that led the now 78-year-old business mogul to make choices that have made his company into a giant in athletic footwear and apparel, seem to keep him from investing. in Greece, although he has apparently been approached by budding entrepreneurs.
Davis has invested elsewhere, however, notably in commercial real estate such as the $ 25 million development of the Beauport Gloucester hotel with his partner Sheree Zizik. The Beauport Hotel Gloucester was built on the site of a former Birdseye frozen food factory in 2016 and is estimated to have created 250 hospitality jobs in the Cape Ann area.
Nonetheless, a small portion of his $ 6.5 billion fortune comes from Greece, as New Balance sneakers and clothing are considered very popular in the country, recording high sales against competitors from super brands such as Adidas, Nike, Puma and Under Armor.
Those who know him well admit that Jim Davis is not an easy person to persuade, no matter how pressured he is.
It is rumored in American business circles that this trait was well known to one of the permanent replacements on the Forbes list, Warren Buffet.
One of the most successful investors of all time, Buffett attempted to buy New Balance 13 years ago, but the check was returned to the famous billionaire, leaving no room for negotiation.
Self-deprecating, seen as a characteristic of intelligent people, is an attribute that Davis also possesses.
“You don’t have to be very smart; you must be lucky ”is a phrase Davis used, but his decisions seem to prove otherwise when it comes to his own success. New Balance is 95% family owned and has not been publicly traded.
The secret to success was a houndstooth
How did Davis come to make more money than he could have imagined?
All great businesses, as many would say, start with a great idea. A successful concept.
Taking his first steps in business in the 1970s, Jim Davis could not have predicted that over the next several decades his company would manufacture shoes and jerseys worn by players of some of the most popular soccer teams in the world. world, such as Liverpool, Porto, Lille and Rome; would gain such market share; and achieve sales of hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the story, it was at the age of 28 or 29 that Davis decided to try his luck in business by buying out the small, insignificant Boston company with just six employees and a production capacity of 30 pairs of shoes. per day for only $ 10,000. .
The New Balance Company was founded in 1906 by British immigrant William Riley under the name “New Balance Arch Support Company”.
Riley’s first product was a flexible arch support, designed with three points of support to provide better balance and comfort in the shoe. Riley is believed to have coined the name “New Balance” by observing chickens in her yard and demonstrated how her arch supports work by keeping a chicken leg on her desk. He explained to customers that the chicken’s three-pronged foot results in perfect balance.
One of Davis’ first inspirations after purchasing the company, therefore, was to make and launch some sort of comfortable working-class shoe for those who work hard and long hours – like waiters and police officers.
The acquisition took place on the day of the famous Boston Marathon, an ideal date to purchase one destined to become one of the world’s most successful producers of athletic shoes for runners.
The company’s first big success was in 1976 when its Model 320, the first New Balance athletic shoe designed with the ‘N’ brand icon on the side, was awarded as the best running shoe by Runner’s World, giving the brand an international reputation. status.
This award provided the impetus to develop a series of technical features and technological innovations that have made New Balance one of the best-selling sports shoe brands in the world.
Relying on word of mouth in his early days, the Greek-American businessman grew his business which is now internationally recognized by the ‘N characteristic, by leaps and bounds over the next 50 years.
In 1972, sales did not exceed $ 100,000, but by 1976 sales had reached $ 1.3 million. In 1985, sales had climbed to 80 million euros and in 2002 to 1.3 billion dollars. Today, New Balance brings in between $ 3.6 billion and $ 4 billion a year, and Davis has a fortune of over $ 6.5 billion.
The road to wealth is not always paved with gold
Despite the resounding success, the professional life of self-made billionaire Jim Davis has not always been rosy. Entering the world of fierce competition with other major global brands of sportswear and footwear has inevitably resulted in conflict.
The most famous – and most intense – of these conflicts occurred when Liverpool FC, one of the most successful professional football clubs in the world, decided to prematurely end their multi-million sponsorship deal. dollars with New Balance to partner with Nike.
Under the contract, the shoe company had the right to renew its sponsorship if it matched a competitor’s offer.
The case went to the Supreme Court in London and ultimately won by Liverpool, who argued that New Balance could not match Nike’s five-year deal of £ 30million a year in terms of marketing.
The decision meant a painful legal defeat for New Balance with the end of a 5-year cooperation and an impact on the company’s reputation.
The extraordinary charity of the Davis family
New Balance started out as a private, family-owned business and has remained so primarily to this day.
Davis’s wife, Anna, started working for New Balance’s human resources department in 1977, and she is currently the company’s vice president.
The charitable work of the Davis family is extraordinary. Davis donated $ 5 million to the University of Maine and a library on the Middlebury College campus was named in his honor.
Responsible leadership is the moral fiber that is woven into our culture. It’s part of who we are and what we strive to be.
In 1981, the Davis family established the New Balance Foundation.
Since its inception, the New Balance Foundation has awarded more than $ 100 million to leading nonprofits, investing in research and clinical, educational and community programs that promote healthy lifestyles, physical fitness and child nutrition and the general well-being of the community. Its main objective is the prevention of childhood obesity.
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