Share |

Gone but not forgotten: great lives remembered

The past year has seen the passing of several notable family business leaders. Campden FB takes a look back at the people we have lost, the innovative careers they forged and the legacies they have left in 2008.

Ernesto Illy
Son of trendy coffee company illycaffe founder Francesco Illy, Ernesto started a research laboratory that soon became the source of new inventions and patents. He was chairman of the firm until 2004 when he was given the title of honourary chairman. He died on 3 February aged 82 and is survived by his son, Andrea, who is CEO of the firm. Click here to read our 2006 interview with Andrea Illy.

Jo Martin
Jo and her cousin, Thomas, had jointly managed Arco, the UK's leading safety clothing and equipment supplier, since 2003. She died on 27 February aged only 36 after a long battle with cancer. Thomas continues to manage the business alongside non-family member Nicholas Hildyard.

Paul Gordon
Eighty-four year old Paul, chairman of family-owned Gordon Food Service (GFS), died on 6 May after a brief battle with cancer. After serving in the US Navy during World War II, Paul succeeded his father as president of GFS in 1965. His brother, John, became secretary-treasurer and together they initiated many industry innovations, including state-of-art warehouse technology. GFS, which was founded in 1897, is North America's largest private foodservice distributor with revenues of $5.9 billion.

Robert Mondavi
The legendary vintner died aged 94 at his home in Napa Valley, California, on 16 May. He founded the winery, named after himself, in 1966 after a feud with his brother forced him to leave the Charles Krug Winery, which his family owned. Since that time, the Robert Mondavi Winery has become known as one of the world's leading innovators, producers and marketers of fine wine, firmly establishing America's place on the world wine stage. Click here to read Mondavi: A life in quotes.

JR Simplot

JR Simplot was the founder of the potato products giant of the same name and is most well-known as the inventor of the frozen french fry. The company, which is currently run by JR's son, Scott, was founded in 1923 when JR purchased a potato sorter and began working for nearby farms. The entrepreneur died on 25 May aged 99.

Rafael del Pino y Moreno
Rafael, one of Spain's leading entrepreneurs, founded family-owned construction company Ferrovial in 1952. It is now one of Spain's largest builders with revenues of $16 billion. Rafael died on 14 June aged 87. He is survived by his son, Rafael Jr, who now runs the business.

Andrea Pininfarina
The CEO of the family-owned car design group Pininfarina was killed in a road accident on 7 August. The 51-year-old was hit by a car on the outskirts of Turin, Italy, while riding a scooter. Andrea trained as an engineer before joining the family business as programme manager of the Cadillac Allanté programme in 1983. In 1987 he was promoted to co-general manager of the company and, in 1988, became general manager. He was again promoted to managing director in 1994, before assuming the responsibility of CEO in 2001.

Todd Bachman
The chairman and CEO of family-owned floral, home and garden retailer Bachman's Inc was murdered on 9 August in a random knife attack in China. He was 62. He had been supporting the US Olympic volleyball team, the coach of which was married to his daughter. His wife, Barbara, was seriously injured in the attack but later recovered. The company, which was founded in Minneapolis in 1885, is now in its fifth generation of family ownership.

Thomas Bata
Thomas was the second-generation owner of Bata Shoe Organization. His father, Tomas, a ninth-generation cobbler, started his own shoe-making business in 1894. When he died in an air crash in 1932, Thomas took over the company and turned it into one of the world's leading footwear retailers and manufacturers. He died aged 93 on 1 September.

Klaus J Jacobs
Klaus, head of the entrepreneurial family behind brands such as human resources firm Adecco, died aged 71 in Switzerland on 11 September. The German-born billionaire worked for his family's coffee company from 1962 and led the company's ambitious expansion of its European operations in the 1970s. He also led the merger of Jacobs with Interfood in 1982, which created Jacobs Suchard, Europe's number one chocolate and coffee enterprise.

Paul Newman
The legendary film actor died on 26 September after a battle with lung cancer. He was 83. While predominantly remembered for his acting skills, his philanthropic efforts are also well-known. His salad dressing company, Newman's Own, has generated over $250 million for thousands of charities since it was formed in 1982. It is thought that his daughter Nell Newman, who runs the Newman's Own Organics spin off, will take over as head of the main business to ensure his legacy is maintained. Click here to read one of Paul Newman's last interviews: The hustler turned philanthropist.

Click here >>