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Reginald F. Lewis
Reginald F. Lewis Reginald F. Lewis


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Reginald F Lewis (December 7, 1942 – January 19, 1993), was an American businessman, who was one of the most successful business leaders during the 1980s He was the richest African American man in the 1980s Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he grew up in a middle class neighborhood He won a football scholarship to Virginia State College (now Virginia State University), graduating with a degree in economics in 1965 He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1968 He was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi In 1992, Forbes magazine listed Lewis among the 400 richest Americans with a net worth estimated at $400 million He also was the first African American to build a billion dollar company He died at age 50, from brain cancer.

Recruited to top New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP immediately after law school, Lewis left to start his own firm two years later After 15 years as a corporate lawyer with his own practice, Lewis moved to the other side of the table by creating TLC Group LP, a venture capital firm, in 1983 His first major deal was the purchase of the McCall Pattern Company, a home sewing pattern business for $225 million Lewis learned from a Fortune magazine article that one of the Norton Simon companies that Esmark planned to divest was McCall Pattern Company, a maker of home sewing patterns founded in 1870 With fewer and fewer people sewing at home, McCall was seemingly on the decline—though it had posted profits of $6 million in 1983 on sales of $519 million At the time, McCall was number two in its industry, holding 29.

7 percent of the market, compared to industry leader Simplicity Patterns with 394 percent He managed to negotiate the price down and then raised $1 million dollars himself from family and friends and borrowed the rest from institutional investors and investment banking firm First Boston Corp Within one year, he turned the company around by freeing up capital tied in fixed assets such as building and machinery, finding a new use for machinery during downtime by manufacturing greeting cards, and he then started to recruit managers from rival companies He further strengthened McCall by containing costs, improving quality, beginning to export to China, and emphasizing new product introductions This new combination led to the company's most profitable year in its history With the addition of McCall real estate worth an estimated $6 million that they retained ownership of, he later sold the company at a tremendous profit for investors a 90-1 return Lewis's share was 817 percent of the $90 million In 1987 Lewis bought Beatrice International Foods from Beatrice Companies for $985 million, renaming it TLC Beatrice International, a snack food, beverage, and grocery store conglomerate that was the largest African-American owned and managed business in the U.

S The deal was partly financed through Mike Milken of the maverick investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert In order to reduce the amount needed to finance the LBO, Lewis came up with a plan to sell off some of the division's assets simultaneous with the takeover When TLC Beatrice reported revenue of $18 billion in 1987, it became the first black-owned company to have more than $1 billion in annual sales At its peak in 1996, TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc had sales of $22 billion and was number 512 on Fortune magazine's list of 1,000 largest companies.



 
The Reginald F. Lewis Story
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Reginald Lewis
A brief look at this extraordinary black man... owned the first black fortune 500 business.
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Reginald F. Lewis Museum celebrates 7 years
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History and Culture is renowned for showcasing the state's rich history and culture since its grand.
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This episode of VSU Today profiles The Reginald F Lewis School of Business at VSU. Business students leverage technology to facilitate portable text books, e.
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Reginald F. Lewis Book Fair 2013
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Reginald F Lewis Museum: Livin Legends Baltimore Club Performance 2013
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A Hip Hop Celebration at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum
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