This month Forbes released their annual list of billionaires.
They found that there are 2,668 billionaires worldwide, but only two of them live in Mississippi. The two billionaires are brothers and live in Hattiesburg.
Let's take a quick look at their story.
The two billionaires living in Hattiesburg
Thomas and James Duff both have a net worth of $2 billion. 2021 was a great year for the brothers as this is up from their $1.4 billion last year.
Thomas was born in 1956, and James in 1960.
The Duffs co-founded and own Duff Capital Investors, a business empire that includes 18 businesses, over 10,000 employees, and an annual turnover of $2.6 billion-. The biggest business within their organization is Southern Tire Mart which their father started in 1973. Both Duffs worked in the business as teenagers and eventually took over running the company in 1983.
At the time, the business was struggling, and the brothers worked without pay until they could turn the business around. By 1997 the business had revenue of $140 million and was acquired by a company in Iowa named Bandag.
They both worked for Bandag; however, James soon quit, and Thomas was fired. Showing their shrewd business sense, the brothers bought back the company in 2003 for $15 million and have since built Southern Tire into a $1 billion business.
The Duff brothers have given back to their community through their philanthropy, particularly Mississippi educational institutions.
“We believe in supporting Mississippi universities because of the direct impact Mississippi graduates have on the future of the state’s growth, economy and quality of life,” said Thomas Duff. “Every day we see the benefits and importance of workforce readiness. Our fine institutions of higher learning are teaching students the value of perseverance and hard work, not to mention the skills of creative and critical thinking and problem solving.” Thomas Dyff
They are big football fans and have donated over $5 million to Tom's alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. In 2019 they donated $26 million to the University of Mississippi to construct a new, state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) facility.
In 2020, they pledged collective gifts of $30 million to The University of Southern Mississippi to go towards scholarships for students.
Last year the Duffs were ranked number 38 on The List of America’s Top 50 Donors, an annual compilation put together by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
“Jim and I understand that we have a sacred responsibility to be good stewards. And we want to see our community and Mississippi prosper and succeed.” Thomas Duff
Readers, have any of you met or worked for the Duff brothers? What were they like? Do you have any suggestions for where else they could donate in Hattiesburg or Mississippi?
Please leave your comments below.