It's very likely to become a billionaire when you help a company go from $17.3 million in sales to 7.3 billion. This billionaire took a family-owned business with 400 employees, making hospital beds and stretchers for 17,000 employees. As a result, the company became a medical technology powerhouse.
This success made John Brown one of the most successful people in the world. His net worth exceeds $5.9 billion, making him the 4th richest person in Georgia.
Who is John Brown?
John Brown was born in 1934 and raised in West Tennessee. His home lacked running water, electricity, or indoor facilities. Brown graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1957. After graduating, Brown worked at an aluminum company.
After the unfortunate death of Lee Stryker, he accepted the responsibility of leading Stryker Corporation. He moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and made history by guiding the company to become one of the most respected companies in the world.
Dr. Homer Stryker was an extraordinary physician from Kalamazoo, Michigan, dissatisfied with the state of specific medical products, so he created Stryker Corporation in 1941. In 1969, Dr. Stryker's son, Lee, became the Company's president. The Company's sales exceeded $17.3 million in 1976. Then, unfortunately, Lee Stryker passed away in a plane crash the same year, leaving the Stryker Corporation without a CEO or a clear successor.
The leadership vacuum was filled by hiring John Brown.
After Lee Stryker's death, his inner circle moved fast to recruit John Brown to become the next president. The company was privately owned, had sales of $17.3 million per year, and employed about 400 people. John Brown accepted the job as Chief Executive Officer of Stryker Corporation in 1977.
- He wanted Stryker to become a publicly-traded company.
- Set the goal of growing earnings per share by at least 20% yearly.
- Make enormous investments in research and development, expand each product line, and enter other new businesses.
He achieved those goals and more. Stryker became public in 1979 and entered the orthopedic implant market by purchasing Osteonics. To improve the company focus, Brown divided the company into three divisions, Stryker Medical, Stryker Surgical, and Stryker Osteonics.
In 1985, Stryker's annual sales reached $100 million. Brown acquired Howmedica from Pfizer Inc. three years later for $1.9 billion in cash. This brilliant deal made Stryker hold 15% of the roughly $ 10 billion world orthopedic market.
John Brown transitioned out of Stryker.
In 2004, the Board of Directors appointed Stephen P. MacMillan as Stryker's President and Chief Executive Officer. John W. Brown kept the position of Chairman of the Board. Brown retired as Chairman in 2010 and continued to serve as a counsel to the company, and became the chairman emeritus. At his retirement, the company sales were about $7.3 billion. When he retired, he reflected on his goals by saying:
"Stryker is one of the world's largest based medical technology companies. We have continually evolved by setting challenging goals, working hard to achieve those goals, and by having an unwavering commitment to abide by the rules."
John Brown still aspires to be better.
Because of this success, John Brown acquired more than 5% of the company in the last 40 years, according to the 2021 proxy filing. Yet, he still aspires to be better every day. According to Forbes, Brown reads six daily newspapers: Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Investors Business Daily, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and USA Today.
However, Forbes estimates Brown has given less than 5% of his money away.
If you had John Brown's money, what causes would you support?