gallery America's Top 30 Job Creators
Enough with greedy bankers and hedge funders. As 15 million unemployed Americans search for jobs, The Daily Beast salutes the true entrepreneurs whose ideas and vision birthed great companies and jobs, jobs, jobs.
#1. Richard Schulze
Chairman, Best Buy
Schulze started the superstore electronics retailer, first named Sound of Music, in Minnesota. It expanded offerings to include appliances and computers in the mid-'80s, adding stores to match, and embraced management efficiency. The chain now has more than 1,000 international locations. "If you don't take risks, you won't get where you want to go," Schulze told Investor’s Business Daily in 2000. "And if you're not willing to take risks yourself, why would anyone want to stay with you? You have to believe in yourself and take chances in the pursuit of that belief. Your people will see that and gather ‘round you."
#2. Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank
Founders, Home Depot
Marcus and Blank had a simple idea—create a big-box store like Sears stocked with home-improvement supplies. The volume would allow them to offer discounts a local mom-and-pop store couldn’t, and informed service would ensure customers would return. After a few missteps, their vision proved fruitful, enabling millions to learn the art of home repair and employing thousands. “We believed from the start that if we brought the customer quality merchandise at the right price and offered excellent service, we could change retailing in the United States. Today, we are the model of what retailing should be,”
Bernie Marcus has said. #3. Howard Schultz
President, Chairman & CEO, Starbucks
Schultz didn’t create the original Starbucks outpost in Seattle, but he pioneered the global coffee chain that exists today. Schultz was introduced to the company during a brief stint as the director of marketing and, after leaving to start his own chain of shops, bought the company from its original owners in 1987. Rapid expansion followed, leading to thousands of jobs worldwide and billions in annual revenue. “Our role as leaders is to celebrate the human connection that we have been able to create as a company, and to make sure people realize the deep level of respect we have for the work they do and how they act. That is the legacy of the company,”
Schultz has said. Courtesy of The Gap, Inc. #4. Doris Fisher
Honorary Lifetime Director, The Gap
Husband and wife team Donald and Doris Fisher opened a store selling Levi’s and LPs to San Francisco locals, but it became an iconic brand by focusing on its private label and expanding nationally. The Fisher family’s retail ideal of accessible fashion, reasonable price points and an expansive range of sizes led to its success and the nearly 3,500 stores that operate today. “Vision, imagination, and leadership make a successful business—but above all, it's a team effort,” Don Fisher declared upon winning a business award in San Francisco in 2007.
#5. Ralph J. Roberts
Chairman Emeritus, Comcast
Roberts formed the company that is now Comcast after buying a fledgling cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi, with two partners. Roberts led the company’s growth by acquiring stakes in a range of other cable companies and investing in cable networks like QVC and E! Entertainment Television. The company now serves more than 20 million subscribers across the country and keeps thousands employed. “It’s not that I have no ego,”
Ralph Roberts has said. “But I’ve learned that if you give people confidence and let them take some risks, most of the time they are winners.” #6. Larry Ellison
With $1,400 and an idea for a database that could be accessed by multiple users, Ellison founded Oracle. The company grew rapidly thanks to Ellison’s ruthless determination. It has survived decades of merciless competition with Microsoft and a sales snafu that caused layoffs and repeated earnings restatements in the ‘90s to become one of world’s most dominant software providers with employees all over the world.
#7. Michael Dell
Chairman & CEO, Dell
The story of Dell’s rise—from piecing together PCs in his dorm to becoming the youngest Fortune 500 CEO ever—is one of the most tumultuous in recent memory. Despite executive shuffles and a few product falters, Dell created a business model that revolutionized the market and created thousands of U.S. jobs, defining the era of the PC. "Our business in North America continues to grow in increments of $6 billion to $7 billion a year—but where are you going to make all the stuff?...With our business model, it just does not make sense [to go off-shore]. The value equation is better building close to the customer,”
said Dell in 2005. #8. Fred Smith
Chairman, CEO & President, FedEx
Smith turned an undergraduate Yale economics paper into an international shipping juggernaut in under three decades. While his foresight created a system that currently employs thousands of workers, it also revolutionized the retail cycle, bolstering the capabilities of hundreds of other businesses. “What I've always tried to do is to get people who have skill sets that are very different from my own—and to give them a lot of authority, relying on them to run their part of the show. I think that's been a strong suit for FedEx. Everybody's got individual skills and individual weaknesses. Knowing what kind of skills to put in place at what time is really the art—or some would call it the science—of what a chief executive does,”
Smith has said. #9. Bill Gates and Paul Allen
Childhood friends Gates and Allen changed the trajectory of personal computing with their operating system that dominated the market in the 1980s and 1990s. Its initial success turned hundreds of original employees into millionaires when its stock took off. But the duo’s vision and leadership also created thousands of jobs in tech design, engineering, manufacturing, and, most recently, retail.
According to Gates, “It's nothing personal to me, but Microsoft has gotten a chance to play a central role in something that's very dramatic. It has become the tool for making jobs effective and interesting, and education being done in a new way, and science being done in a new way. It's a phenomenal thing.” #10. Gordon Moore
Chairman Emeritus, Intel
Famous for “Moore’s Law” regarding the doubling of chip capabilities, Moore founded Intel with Robert Noyce and served various executive positions until 2001. The chipmaker became the world’s largest under Moore’s leadership, diversifying its product range and creating the first commercial microprocessor that led the creation of thousands of jobs, as well as hundreds of other startups.
#11. James Sinegal & Jeffrey Brotman
Sinegal and Brotman stripped all the luxury out of shopping to make Costco a success. Their idea turned retail on its head: sell in bulk, discount as much as possible, and ensure customers are getting the best possible deal. They also ensured that all employees are paid at some of the highest levels in retail. The strategy worked—after just six years in operation the company had $3 billion in sales. "Paying good wages is not in opposition to good productivity,"
insists Sinegal. "If you hire good people, give them good jobs, and pay them good wages, generally something good is going to happen." Hk Rajashekar, The India Today Group / Getty Images #12. Kumar Mahadeva
Founder, Cognizant Technology
Cognizant has been one of America’s fastest growing companies for most of the last decade. Mahadeva led the explosive growth by creating a business model that relies on domestic consulting and Indian outsourcing, which allows for greater efficiency and fulltime client support.
According to Mahadeva, American workers reap many of the rewards of the structure. “The people who are here in the United States are paid as much or more than any of our competitors…Effectively, [our costs] probably come out 30 to 35 percent less than someone who's using a purely domestic model.” Bill Greenblatt, UPI / Landov #13. Jack Taylor
Founder, Enterprise Rent-a-Car
Taylor started the nation’s most successful rental-car company in the country after a stint as a Cadillac sales manager. What started as a tiny company grew into a billion-dollar business that has stayed in the family for five decades. One reason for its success is its incentive-based pay for employees, as managers’ compensation depends on monthly profits. Another novel hiring fact: Enterprise Rent-a-Car hires more college graduates than any other American corporation.
Jim Stem, Bloomberg News / Getty Images #14. William Morean and James Golden
Founders, Jabil Circuit
Morean and Golden founded Jabil—a name formed from James and Bill—in Morean’s Detroit garage. It started as a circuit-board fixing firm, but the St. Petersburg-based company now manufactures circuit boards for some of the leading technology firms in the industry, including Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell. Morean’s son, Bill Morean, Jr. is now CEO.
Emile Wamsteker, Bloomberg News / Getty Images #15. Stewart Bainum, Sr.
Founder, Manor Care
Despite a background in plumbing, Bainum opened a nursing home in Maryland. The company went public ten years later and under his and his son’s leadership, it merged with Bainum’s other company, Quality International, and acquired another nursing home operator. While his corporation has continued without him, growing into one of the largest nursing home employers in the country, Bainum has taken to philanthropy, donating $12 million a year of his fortune.
#16. Thomas G. Stemberg
When Thomas G. Stemberg was fired from First National Supermarkets, he didn’t have to look further than his local store to find the inspiration for Staples. “Back then, if you were a small business, you went to a small stationary store and paid $3.68 for a dozen ballpoint pens.”
Stemberg said. “But big businesses were paying less than $1 for the same pens.” Hundreds of thousands of small businesses across America were itching to pay closer-to-wholesale rates for their office supplies, and Staples, along with Office Depot the same year, stepped in to fill that very large niche. #17. Rupert Murdoch
News Corp., Chairman & CEO
One of the most famous and quite possibly the most controversial people on this list is Rupert Murdoch. His news and entertainment businesses have spawned tens of thousands of jobs in America. “In motivating people, you've got to engage their minds and their hearts,” Murdoch is often credited as saying. “I motivate people, I hope, by example—and perhaps by excitement, by having productive ideas to make others feel involved.”
#18. Henry Taub
Nearly 15 percent of America’s workers are paid via Automatic Data Processing, but it was called Automatic Payrolls, Inc. when Henry Taub founded it in Paterson, NJ. With social security relatively new, and payrolls becoming more complex, Taub recognized the need for an outside firm to manage payroll processing. ADP’s roster of salesmen once included US Senator Frank Lautenberg. Taub today is significant not only for the jobs his company has created, but for his philanthropy. Earlier this summer he donated $10 million to Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
#19. Roger Marino
EMC Corporation, Co-founder
One of EMC Corporation’s most significant contributions to the high-tech world is its Symmetrex disk array storage system, started in 1990. But by that time Marino had already built EMC into a well-established player in the computer memory world. Since his retirement Marino has invested heavily in sports and entertainment. “You put money into a small company and hope it gets big. I became an angel,”
he said. “Who knew I was gonna be an angel someday?” He also serves
on the board of TechTarget. #20 (tie). Earl E. Bakken
The first month of Medtronic’s life it made $8 in income for
Earl E. Bakken and co-founder Palmer Hermundslie. Bakken’s motto, "failure is closer to success than inaction," helped guide Medtronic into a generator of nearly $15 billion in revenue for its 2009 fiscal year. Bakken is, at heart, a tinkerer, who invented the world’s first battery-powered pacemaker in 1957. His
inspiration for combining electricity with medicine? The Frankenstein movie, which he saw in high school.