They are founders and heirs of companies that range from legacy products to new technologies.
Most people associate Menards with the tagline “Save Big Money!” But it’s the home improvement chain that also continues to make big money for its founding family. John Menard, Jr. tops the 2022 list of richest billionaires who are residents of Wisconsin, according to Forbes.
This list is watched so closely that Forbes has created its own real-time billionaire tracking website following the daily ups and downs of their portfolios, using stock prices and exchange rates.
For example, John Menard made $200,000 in the 24 hours leading up to this article being published while the sibling heirs to the S.C. Johnson Co. lost $2 million in a day.
Don’t worry—the wild swings are all in a day’s work for these investments—and according to Forbes data analyzed by Americans for Tax Fairness and Citizen Action of Wisconsin, the state’s billionaires saw their total fortunes grow by 50% during the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are Wisconsin’s top billionaires, their estimated wealth, their ranking on the current list of richest men and women in the world, age, hometown, and how they amassed their fortunes:
- John Menard, Jr.
Net Worth: $14.2 billion (No. 125)
Age 82, Eau Claire
How he made his fortune: Menard, Jr. started, you guessed it, Menards in 1964. As of 2021, he owned 335 stores and 12 distribution centers in 15 states.
- Diane Hendricks
Net Worth: $11.3 billion (No. 167)
Age 75, Afton
How she made her fortune: Hendricks and her husband started ABC Supply, a company that sells roofing, windows, gutters, and siding in 1982. She’s currently the richest self-made woman in America, according to Forbes.
- Herbert Kohler, Jr.
Net Worth: $8.8 billion (No. 218)
Age 83, Kohler
How he made his fortune: Kohler, Jr.’s dad started the Kohler company, best known for its plumbing products. The younger Kohler became the company’s executive chairman in 1972 and since then, has doubled the size of the business.
- Judith Faulkner
Net Worth: $6.8 billion (No. 334)
Age 78, Madison
How she made her fortune: Faulkner founded Epic Systems in 1979, a healthcare software company that currently holds the medical records of more than 200 million people. She prides herself on being entirely homegrown and never acquiring another company.
- James Cargill, II
Net Worth: $4.4 billion (No. 614)
Age 73, Birchwood
How he made his fortune: Cargill II is the great-grandson of William Wallace Cargill, who founded the food corporation of the same last name. Some of Cargill’s major businesses are trading, purchasing and distributing grain, and producing vegetable oils & fats.
The S.C. Johnson Family
There are three additional billionaires living in Wisconsin. The siblings are members of the S.C. Johnson family of Racine along with one other sibling who lives out of state. All four are each worth $3.4 billion, which would put them at No. 857 on the list of world’s richest individuals—though their family fortune would rank second in the state if combined.
In 2000, H. Fisk Johnson, 64, became chair of the cleaning products company started by his great-great-grandfather, Samuel Curtis Johnson, in 1886. Helen Johnson-Leipold, 65, is chair of Johnson Financial Group and Johnson Outdoors. S. Curtis Johnson, 67, lives in Racine. And Winifred J. Marquart, 63, lives in Virginia.
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