A billion dollars is equivalent to 1,000 x 1,000,000. Most people dream of getting their hands on just $1 million let alone a billion. Names like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates often come to mind when you think about American billionaires. Before these men became household names there was a man who managed to build an enormous business worth over $1 billion, while accruing a net worth over $400 million. Reginald F. Lewis was his name, a name that many more people would currently know, if his life was not cut short.
Born in Baltimore Maryland in 1942, Lewis was a talented athlete growing up. He was so good that he earned a football scholarship to Virginia State College. He went on to earn a degree in political science in 1965, following that, he attended Harvard Law school, concluding his studies in 1968. Lewis did not start out as an entrepreneur. His professional career began in the practice of law. He was recruited to the top law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP based out of New York. This was ultimately short lived as he went solo after two years at the firm. His next big endeavor came about after he created TLC Group L.P venture capital firm in 1983.
At the TLC group his first big break came when he purchased the McCall Pattern Company for $22.5 million. After turning around the McCall Pattern Company and spinning off a massive profit for investors he set his sights on an even greater prize. In 1987 Lewis bought Beatrice International Foods from Beatrice companies for $985 million. He eventually renamed the company to TLC Beatrice International. It went on to become the largest black owned and managed business in the country at the time.
Many of us never got to laud in the accomplishments of Mr. Lewis. In 1993 he passed away from a brain tumor after a 6-month long battle. At its pinnacle, TLC Beatrice International Holdings had sales of $2.2 billion, ranking at 512 on Forbes list of the top 1,000 largest companies. We must all share in helping the legacy of Reginald. F Lewis lives on.