Reginald Lewis

“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” – Ralph Marston quotes

Reginald F. Lewis was the richest African American man in the 1980’s. Lewis was born on December 7, 1942, in Baltimore, Maryland. He was brought up in a middle class family and his parents understood the importance of good education early on. He was a studious student and was also good in sports. He won a football scholarship which landed him in Virginia Sate College. He graduated from here with a degree in economics in 1965. He went for further studies and got a graduation degree from Harvard Law School in 1968.during his college time he also became a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

After completing his law degree, Lewis joined a top New York Law Firm and worked there for two year. He left the company after two years and started his own firm. He practiced law for 15 years as a corporate lawyer. In 1983 he switched the sides by creating a venture capital firm called TLC Group L.P. he made his first major deal when he purchased the McCall Pattern Company for $22.5 million. It was a home sewing pattern business and Lewis was not fully in favor of the deal as fewer and fewer people were sewing at home. Within a year he turned the company around by applying effective solutions and finally sold the company at a huge profit for investor. He got 81.7 percent of the $90million profit as the investors received a 90-1 return.

He bought Beatrice International foods in 1987 from Beatrice Companies for $985 million. He renamed the company as TLC Beatrice International which was a snack food, beverage and grocery store conglomerate. It was the largest African-American owned and managed business in the U.S. at that time. TLC Beatrice generated $1.8 billion revenue in 1987 and became the first black-owned company to have more than $1 billion in annual sales. TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc. had $2.2 billion of sales in 1996 and was ranked at number 512 in Fortune Magazine’s list of 1,000 largest companies. This was the time when the company was at its peak.

In 1992 he gave the largest single donation given by anyone to Harvard Law School. He also created the Reginald F. Lewis Fund for International Study and Research. Lewis passed away on 19 January 1993 from brain cancer. He was married to a Filipino-American Loida Nicolas-Lewis, who started managing the company a year after his death.

Source by Howard Rothbein

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