Owners of family businesses are about stewardship, that’s passing the business over to the next generation in a better state than they’ve inherited it. The ownership part is secondary. But here’s five family dynasties that have created some pretty big fortunes in between the stewardship process. Of course, they don’t see it this way, but they are pretty good family billionaire factories.
The Cargill-MacMillan family
Quite possibly the world’s greatest family business billionaire factory is the commodities group, Cargill. America’s biggest privately-owned business in terms of revenue, Cargill is owned by two branches of the original family that founded the business all the way back to just after the American Civil War, the Cargill and MacMillan families. Fourteen of them are currently listed as billionaires - more than any other family in the world. Intensely private, both sides of the family don’t seek publicity. And since Whitney MacMillan stepped down as CEO of Cargill in 1995, no member of the family have been involved in senior management of the business. But the family still own 88% of Cargill, and aren’t likely to give it up in a hurry - so expect the dynasty to go on for some time yet creating more billionaires.
The Pritzker Dynasty
Perhaps the second greatest billionaire dynasty so far has been the Pritzker family from Chicago. Currently, there are eleven members of the family that are classified as billionaires, according to Forbes. From publically available sources, that’s second on the list after the Cargill/MacMillan family. Much of the huge family fortune was split up after the death of Jay Pritzker, the co-founder of the hotel group Hyatt Corporation, which many of the family still own shares in. Eleven members of the family received more than a billion dollars each with the split, and some have since gone on to make even bigger fortunes through canny investments like Karen Pritzker’s early investment in Apple. Others like Jay Roberts and John Pritzker are also big investors - so it looks like the Pritzker dynasty will go on for many years yet continuing to create billionaires.
The Walton Dynasty
The family business that’s created more billionaires than any other in such a short time period is Walmart. Started by Bud and Sam Walton in 1962, currently, there are seven members of the family listed as billionaires, according to Forbes. They are Jim, Alice, S.Robson, Lukas, Christy, Ann, and Nancy. Of course, Sam Walton became a billionaire through his efforts before he died in 1992. His wife, Helen, became the richest woman in America after Sam’s death. One member of the second generation, John, died in a plane crash in 2005. There have been a few divorces among the second generation, and it’s not clear if some of these settlements also created new billionaires. But it’s probably OK to assume that Wal-Mart has at least created 10 billionaires during its 50-plus years in existence. That’s some achievement.
The Rothschild Dynasty
There’s only one member of the Rothschild finance dynasty listed on the Forbes billionaire list, Benjamin de Rothschild, but that doesn’t mean that other members of the family aren’t billionaires. Two other prevalent members of the family - Jacob and Evelyn - might not be on the list, but they are often quoted as billionaires in the media. Whatever the case, the Rothschild dynasty has been one of the best at continuing to create multi-millionaires and billionaires for so many years. Obviously, being a Rothschild does help when attempting to make money, but the family has been doing it since the 18th century. They clearly have something special and are likely to continue to do so for some time yet.
The Lauder Dynasty
The family behind the cosmetic giant Estee Lauder are among the wealthiest in the world, with five of them listed as billionaires by Forbes. Founded in 1946, Estee Lauder has been one of America’s most successful family businesses. The family still own around 39% of the listed cosmetic giant, which had sales of $10.7 billion in 2015. With those types of sales figures, it looks like Estee Lauder will continue to be a family billionaire factory for many more years.