30. STELIOS PAPADOPOULOS
$334 MILLION (WallMine)
New York University
New on our list this year is Stelios Papadopoulos.
The Greek-born Papadopoulos, 71, joined Biogen’s, a publicly held biopharmaceutical company, Board of Directors in 2008 and was appointed as Chairman in June 2014. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Exelixis, Inc., a drug discovery and development company that he co-founded in 1994. He is the Chairman of Regulus Therapeutics, Inc., a life sciences company. He co-founded Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, in 2000 and was a member of its Board of Directors until its acquisition by Hoffman-La Roche in 2011, serving as the Chairman of the board during 2011.
From 2003 to 2018, Papadopoulos served as a member of the board of directors of BG Medicine, Inc., a publicly-held life sciences company. Papadopoulos retired as Vice Chairman of Cowen & Co., LLC, a financial services company, in 2006, after six years with the firm where, as an investment banker, he focused on the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors. Prior to joining Cowen, he spent 13 years as an investment banker at PaineWebber, Inc., where he was most recently Chairman of PaineWebber Development Corp., a PaineWebber subsidiary focusing on biotechnology. He joined PaineWebber in 1987 from Drexel Burnham Lambert where, as an analyst in the Equity Research Department, he covered the biotechnology industry. Prior to Drexel, he was the biotechnology analyst of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
Most recently, in October 2020, Papadopoulos closed a $100 million raise in a SPAC as he seeks a biotech partner to go public through a reverse merger. The SPAC, called Eucrates Biomedical Acquisition, priced at $10 per share and each share comes with one-third of a warrant that can be used to buy shares at $11.50 each.
In the not-for-profit sector, Dr. Papadopoulos is a co-founder and Chairman of Fondation Santé, a member of the Board of Visitors of Duke Medicine and a member of the Global Advisory Board of the Duke Institute for Health Innovation.
Papadopoulos holds an M.S. in physics, a Ph.D. in biophysics and an M.B.A. in finance, all from New York University. Before going to Wall Street, Dr. Papadopoulos was on the faculty of the Department of Cell Biology at New York University School of Medicine. He maintains his affiliation with NYU as an adjunct associate professor of cell biology.
29. JOHN GEORGES
$360 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
FOOD SERVICES, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, PHILANTHROPY, MEDIA
Tulane University (Management); Married, 3 children
John Georges, 60, is an entrepreneur in multiple industries, an avowed philanthropist, and a strong supporter of Hellenic causes.
He is Founder and CEO of Georges Enterprises, a company based in Elmwood, LA, specializing in acquiring and growing businesses. It invests in food vending, grocery distribution, video/arcade entertainment, restaurants, and media outlets. Georges Enterprises began as Imperial Trading in 1916, a wholesale grocery distribution company founded by Georges’ maternal grandfather. Georges started out in the family business at a young age, sweeping warehouse floors when he was 11 and making deliveries by the time he was 15. His father, Dennis Georges, immigrated to the U.S. after serving in the Greek Resistance and the Royal Greek Air Force during World War II.
In April 2013, Georges Enterprises acquired The Advocate – a Baton Rouge daily newspaper with a New Orleans edition and websites covering nearby towns Ascension and Acadiana – which is the largest newspaper in Louisiana. He completed his studies at Tulane University in 1983, turning his attention to Georges Enterprises, expanding its sales from $29 million to over $1 billion and operating more than 50 businesses today.
Georges is very involved with both Louisiana public life and the community of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The former church president hosted Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew when he visited New Orleans in October 2009. He was also instrumental in rebuilding the Greek community in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 - raising over $4 million in just three months. Everything was “a wasteland,” he told TNH in 2015, “and we rebuilt everything in 90 days – it was a miracle.” Most recently, Georges became a member of the 13-person board of the Friends of St. Nicholas, a not-for-profit organization with the exclusive responsibility for the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Church and Shrine.
In May 2019, Georges’ New Orleans Advocate purchased The Times-Picayune and the accompanying nola.com website from Advance Local. The Advocate continues to serve as a home delivered newspaper in the New Orleans metro area. At the beginning of the pandemic, in March of 2020, the newspaper announced that it would be furloughing some employees and cutting staff hours. However, the Advocate also announced that Georges would be paying the health care premiums of the furloughed employees.
A notable campaign financier, Georges unsuccessfully ran for governor of Louisiana as a democrat in 2007 and Mayor of New Orleans in 2010 but fell short in both efforts.
A firm believer in education and entrepreneurship, Georges founded the Lemonade Day - a community event that gives children an opportunity to learn the inner workings of running a business - in Louisiana. The event has helped more than 5,000 children become entrepreneurs.
Georges is also on the board of The Hellenic Initiative, and he and his wife Dathel are involved in numerous other philanthropic endeavors.
Most recently, Georges decided that Mardi Gras could not be missed as a result of the coronavirus. So, he invested in a $1.2 million project that took the celebration to the worldwide web. The free online event (“Mardi Gras for All Y’All”) gave its viewers an up-close, virtual experience with floats, music, costumes and stories detailing the history, culture and traditions behind the Mardi Gras season.
The Georges have three children: Zana, Liza, and Nike.
28. NICHOLAS GALAKATOS
$386 MILLION (TNHE)
BIOMEDICAL TECHNOLOGY, VENTURE CAPITAL
Reed College; Married, 2 children
Nicholas Galakatos, 59, is the Global Head of Life Sciences of Blackstone and is the chairman of its investment committee, having joined the company in 2018 as part of Blackstone's acquisition of Clarus (a company that he co-founded and ran). Blackstone Life Sciences was formed to become a key source of capital for large pharmaceutical companies that would bring cutting-edge treatments to patients. It is a private investment platform that seeks to invest in companies and products within the life science sectors. The company looks to bring the necessary funding required to advance medicines and healthcare technologies to the broader market instead of languishing as ideas. As of July 2020, Blackstone said it raised $4.6 billion for what it called the largest-ever private life sciences investment fund. Galakatos said that the fund would be directed towards three areas: established life science companies, late-stage product financing and growth investments in emerging companies.
The Greek-born Galakatos has over 30 years of healthcare sector industry and investment experience and has led investments in biotechnology, pharmaceutical company partnerships, and diagnostics, from startup to commercial-stage companies. He was vice president of New Business at Millennium Pharmaceuticals (from 1997 to 2000), a leading biopharmaceuticals company purchased by the Takeda Oncology Company for $8.8 billion in May 2008, and a member of its management team. During that time, Galakatos co-founded Millennium Predictive Medicine and TransForm Pharmaceuticals, where he was chairman. Prior to his stint at Millennium, he was an associate at Venrock Associates focusing on early stage biotechnology investments. Before Venrock, he was head of Molecular Biology Research at Novartis.
Galakatos was born in Athens and raised in Thessaloniki. He earned his undergraduate degree at Reed College, a doctorate in organic chemistry at MIT, and completed his post-doctoral studies at Harvard Medical School.
He is director of ophthalmology company Ophthotech, cardiovascular therapy company Portola, and diagnostics company Nanostring, all of which had successful IPOs in 2013. Before that, he sold TransForm Pharmaceuticals to Johnson & Johnson, and as the chairman of Hypnion, Galakatos “made out well with the 2007 sale of Hypnion to Eli Lilly for $315 million,” Forbes reported. He is also the chairman of Anthos Therapeutics, former chairman (current director) of Praxis Precision Medicine and a member of the Board of Directors of Entasis Therapeutics and Talaris, Inc.
He and his wife, Alice, have two sons. Galakatos is a member of the Director’s Council of the Koch Institute at MIT, and the Genetics Advisory Council at Harvard Medical School. He is also on Anatolia College and Reed College’s board of trustees.
27. JOHN G. RANGOS SR.
$445 MILLION (TNHE)
Houston School of Business; 3 children
John G. Rangos Sr., 91, a renowned philanthropist, made his fortune through transportation, waste management and disposal, as well as security services.
Born in Steubenville, OH, Rangos was raised by his mother and grandfather during the Depression in the Virginias. He became keenly aware as a child of the changes sweeping through his community as the hardships of the Depression gave way to the difficulties of World War II. He watched the men in his community ship off to war, while the women worked in factories to support themselves and their families, so from a young age he developed a deep sense of pride in, and respect for collective collaboration and sacrifice for our country.
As a young man, Rangos attended the Houston School of Business. He interrupted his education to join the Active Air Force Reserve unit in Pittsburgh. Declining a first lieutenant commission in the Air Force Reserves, he opted for the Army. He served with great distinction in the Army from 1951-54, including a stint on a combat signal team in the Far East. Rangos returned to civilian life with military honors, including the National Defense Medal, United Nations Medal, Korean Campaign Medal, and a Presidential Unit Citation from President Truman and President Syngman Rhee of South Korea.
Rangos began his career with Rockwell Manufacturing Company in Pittsburgh, where he distinguished himself by becoming the youngest general agent in company history. He formed several companies in the 1960s, and pioneered technological advances in the transportation and disposal of industrial waste. He founded Chambers Development Inc. in 1971, a firm that provided waste treatment services, developed commercial recycling programs, and broke ground with specially lined, layered landfills to protect groundwater supplies.
Rangos’ many innovative achievements include converting power plant boiler ash into a useful component of cinder blocks and anti-skid material for highways. He also played an instrumental role in inventing techniques for recycling bituminous byproducts and disposing of sewage and sludge. He developed methods for liquid industrial waste disposal, and created a resource recovery system that converts waste-generated methane into usable energy. Together with his sons, Alex and John Jr., Rangos advocated standards for regional sanitation sites that resolved many environmental concerns nationwide. They initiated present-day environmental protection standards decades ago, to include the design and strict enforcement of federal laws forbidding corrupt practices in the transporting of illegal waste. Across the eastern seaboard and into the Midwest, they built the largest, most sophisticated land disposal facilities in the industry – including double-composite-lined HDPE (high-density polyethylene) facilities to protect groundwater – long before other waste management companies emerged.
In October 1991, Chambers Development owned and operated a number of large regional landfills, worth a reported market value of $1.7 billion. Chambers went public and, in 1995, was merged with USA Waste, then the country’s second largest waste management company. Rangos served as vice chairman of USA Waste, during which time Waste Management Inc., the country’s largest trash hauler, acquired USA Waste. That merger in 1998 has proven to be a major continuing success.
Together with his partner Ian McLennan, a respected FBI agent, Rangos co-founded Security Bureau Inc., one of the most prominent security companies in the country, in the mid-1970s. SBI guarded everything from banks and shopping centers to industrial and atomic energy plants. It grew into a company with a license in every state in the union, and was eventually sold for more than $40 million.
Rangos has three children and several grandchildren. He is founder and director of the John G. Rangos Sr. Family Charitable Foundation, founder and former president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, founder and chairman emeritus of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and former fundraising chairman for UNICEF. The Rangos Foundation supports medical research at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, one of the world's finest pediatric care centers, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he established an innovative new program which invites and challenges the brightest young minds at Johns Hopkins to find a cure to metastatic cancer. He also has funded the Johns Hopkins Medicine/University of Patras collaboration. The Rangos Foundation also supports programs at Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon Universities, and many other programs and organizations (e.g., the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society). In 2020, Rangos was one of three Pittsburgh philanthropists in providing a $7.5 million gift to Duquesne University Medical School.
In 2018, Rangos was honored at Johns Hopkins to celebrate a decade of progress at the highly successful innovation hub that he was instrumental in initiating. The John G. Rangos Sr. Life Sciences Building was the first building at the Johns Hopkins’ Science + Technology Park, a mixed-use redevelopment of 88 acres adjacent to the Johns Hopkins University medical campus and hospital in East Baltimore. Today, more than 40 life science companies and research institutions have located there to partner with Johns Hopkins in commercializing scientific discovery. In response to the pandemic, Rangos provided free Wendy’s gift cards to all healthcare professionals and volunteers at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for many weeks during the Covid-19 crisis.
Dedicated to the Orthodox Church, Rangos is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, the Church’s highest lay honor, and sits on the boards of the Clergy Liturgy Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
26. TOM HANKS & RITA WILSON
$500 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Married, 4 children
It’s been quite a year for the ‘officially’ Greek couple. After contracting the coronavirus while filming in Australia during the first quarter of 2020, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have kept busy despite the pandemic. Hanks had two films released in 2020 (Greyhound and News of the World - which has become one of Netflix’s most-watched films this month). Wilson released a song with Dolly Parton, Jordin Sparks and Sarah Evans called ‘Pink’ to raise awareness for breast cancer in October and was featured in The Hellenic Initiative’s fundraising gala in November.
Although he always considered himself a philhellene, Hanks received his Greek citizenship just before the close of 2019 by Greece’s former President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos. Under Greek law, honorary naturalization may be granted to people “who have provided exceptional services to the country or whose naturalization serves the public interest.” The initiative first came from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had met Hanks and discussed issues of Greek interest. The Prime Minister’s proposal to Hanks was reportedly accepted with enthusiasm, sources said, and was followed by the formal request to President Pavlopoulos by then-Minister of the Interior, Takis Theodorikakos.
Hanks converted to Greek Orthodoxy in 1988 prior to marrying Rita Wilson (whose mother was an ethnic Greek born in Albania), owns property on Antiparos, and has quietly supported several initiatives for Greece including helping victims of the area of Mati following the devastating fires outside of Athens in 2018. The Guardian reported that Hanks, by his own admission, “is an ardent admirer of all things Hellenic.” The star has been visiting the country for years, spending nearly every summer on the Aegean island of Antiparos where he and his wife, Rita Wilson, have a home.
Wilson is believed to have played a crucial role in his decision to co-produce the romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding with her. The couple also produced Mamma Mia! and its sequel. In December of 2019, Hanks received the 2020 Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes. During his acceptance speech Hanks said: “I’ve been Hellenic now for the better part of 32 years. Greece is a haven…the land, the sky, the water, it’s good for the soul. It’s a healing place, particularly if you get into that fabulous, fabulous Greek schedule of sleeping until noon, staying up until three o’clock in the morning and arguing in a taverna until 3 AM. It’s just the best life one can have.” Two weeks after President Pavlopoulos granted Hanks honorary Greek citizenship, his offer was extended to Wilson and the two children they share together – Chester and Truman (Hanks has two more children from his previous marriage). Wilson and Hanks attend St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church in Los Angeles and according to John Sanidopoulos’ blog, Hanks’ spiritual father was Father Robert Stephanopoulos (his son George is the well-known political commentator and TV host (featured infra).
24. ANGELO K. TSAKOPOULOS
$600 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
California State University - Sacramento (Political Science & Business); Married, 6 children
Born the son of a butcher in the village of Rizes in Arcadia, Greece, and having lived under the Nazi occupation, Tsakopoulos, now 84, came to America along with hundreds of other hopeful immigrants via steam ship. On his 15th birthday, he sailed into New York City’s harbor and saw Lady Liberty for the very first time. Tsakopoulos moved to Chicago to live with family, before eventually continuing west to the San Joaquin Valley in California. Along the way, Tsakopoulos worked as a shoe shine boy and a farm hand. Encouraged by a close mentor to continue his education, Tsakopoulos studied political science and business at California State University, Sacramento where he was also a member of the boxing team. While there, he used the Americanized surname of Chicos - which he later dropped to reclaim his family’s name. While attending school, Tsakopoulos supported himself as a waiter and real estate salesman, foreshadowing his highly successful career in real estate development.
Tsakopoulos founded AKT Development Corporation in Sacramento, CA, which became a leading real estate development firm in the area under his leadership and has built more than 60,000 homes and more than 30 million square feet of office space. AKT also maintains a large commercial building portfolio and manages approximately 20,000 acres of farmland. In 2018, Tsakopoulos stepped down as CEO of AKT and his daughter, Chrysanthy (Chrysa) Demos took over the position. However, Chrysa has said her father is only ‘semi-retired.’
Tsakopoulos and his family have also been dedicated supporters of civic and community causes. Tsakopoulos has lived his life expressing his belief in the Greek idea of ‘paideia’ – education – and thus has made lasting contributions to the education and cultural life of the greater community. The Tsakopoulos family has donated land and funds to cultural institutions including the Greek Orthodox Church, the Crocker Art Museum, and the Roseville Arts Center. Tsakopoulos has also had a strong commitment to supporting education through the Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos Endowment Fund and as a co-chair for California State University, Sacramento's Capital Campaign. To support the study and celebration of Greek heritage and history, Tsakopoulos served as an instrumental figure in the creation of the S.B. Vryonis Center for the Study of Hellenism in Sacramento. In 2018, the Tsakopoulos family donated $1 million to establish the Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Endowed Chair at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. Most recently, in September of 2020, the CEO of UC Davis Health announced a $2 million gift from Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos and Chrysa and George Demos to support the health system’s commitment to improve the health and well-being of older adults.
In 2016, Tsakopoulos, on his 80th birthday, was honored as a permanent part of the United States Congressional Record for “his legendary career in real estate development and his long history of philanthropy in California.” Tsakopoulos has also carved out a niche for himself as a major player in and fundraiser for the Democratic Party, and as a standard bearer for Greek political and cultural interests in America. He and his children have raised and contributed millions to national, state, and local campaigns over the past decade. Democratic presidential candidates aside, a few of the major recipients include former California Governor Gray Davis, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (now Vice President), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Tsakopoulos is also dedicated to advancing the careers of Greek-American politicians, including former California state treasurer and once-gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides. His daughter, Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Hungary in 2010 and in 2018 was elected as California’s 50th Lieutenant Governor. Tsakopoulos, known for his larger than life persona, and his family have established Hellenic Studies chairs at several major American universities across the country: Georgetown, Stanford, and Columbia among them.
23. JOHN PAPPAJOHN
$670 MILLION (TNHE)
University of Iowa (Business); Married, 1 child
John Pappajohn, now almost 92, continues to be a venture capitalist and a leader in his field. He is also an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and a self-proclaimed workaholic – still working 7 days a week (as reported by Iowa Innovation in June of 2019). In an interview with the Des Moines Register, a colleague described him as "an absolute maniac." "I started working with him when he was 67. I can’t imagine him when he was mid-40s or 50s.”
In an interview with Iowa Magazine in 2018, Pappajohn said, “I never anticipated being 90...I'm in my office every Saturday and Sunday. Mary is a very understanding wife, and when she calls, I go home. But I'm very active in my venture business, and I'm doing very exciting things. My incentive isn't to be rich; it's to do what I want in philanthropy. Mary and I feel strongly that a successful life must include service to society and our fellow man. This is how we will be judged. We must all try to make a difference in this world.”
Pappajohn emigrated from Evia, Greece to the United States with his mother when he was just nine months old to join his father who was a U.S. citizen. He struggled during kindergarten because he spoke limited English. In the early 1930s, right before the Great Depression, Pappajohn’s father opened a grocery store (where Pappajohn could earn 10 cents a day by stocking shelves and performing various chores around the store). His father provided for families in the community during those pressing times, often allowing them to purchase on credit that he knew they wouldn’t be able to repay. The lessons that Pappajohn learned at the grocery store guided his eventual business career. When Pappajohn was older, he had to occasionally miss school to sell scrap to help support his family. “I became a scrap junk dealer. The junk yard was one block from our house. The man there – Harry Wolf – became a friend and a mentor; I would sell him something every day,” Pappajohn said. “I’d pick up pennies I found on the street. I still do; habit I guess.”
His father passed away when he was 16 years of age. Pappajohn worked his way through college and alternated working and attending school with his brothers – which is why it took him a few extra years to graduate. Eventually, Pappajohn earned his degree from the University of Iowa’s College of Business Administration in 1952. He did not interview for a job after graduation – instead he knew he wanted to own his own business and thus decided to establish an insurance agency.
Eventually, in 1969, Pappajohn organized Equity Dynamics, Inc., a financial consulting entity and Pappajohn Capital Resources, a venture capital firm in Des Moines, IA. He became one of the early venture capitalists. Throughout his career, he has been an early investor in more than 100 companies, most of which are dedicated to healthcare and biotechnology industries. He has also been involved with over 100 start ups, over 50 IPOs, and has served as Director in over 40 public companies. Much of Pappajohn's success is built on a simple premise: he works longer and harder than everyone else. "I got a lot done. I’ve got a lot more things I want to get done," Pappajohn said in a 2016 interview with the Des Moines Register.
Both Pappajohn and his wife, Mary, are avid philanthropists, having gifted more than $100 million to various causes; in 2017 the Chronicle of Philanthropy identified the biggest donors to charities in each of the 50 states and named Pappajohn the top philanthropist in Iowa. They have partnered in numerous endeavors, providing millions for scholarships, business opportunities and community enhancements. His charitable donations include the John & Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Center, and Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers at five Iowa universities and colleges (where he has personally donated $23M and has committed $10M more). To date, over 150,000 college students have taken part in the latter, which have sparked over 1,000 new businesses. The Pappajohn Scholarship Foundation has distributed over $4 million in grants to support ethnic, disadvantaged, and/or minority students over the past 10 years. Most recently, in December 2020, the food bank of Iowa and area churches distributed more than 1,000 holiday meals funded by the Pappajohns.
In September 2009, the Des Moines Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened, featuring $40 million worth of the avid collector couple’s outdoor sculptures from their personal collection. He has demonstrated a great love for the fine arts: Pappajohn was named by Art News Magazine as one of the top 200 collectors in the world from 1997-2014. He was appointed to the advisory board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush and he currently serves on the National Committee of the Performing Arts for the Kennedy Center. He also serves as a member of the Trustees Council of the National Gallery of Art as well as on their Collectors Committee. He is a vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., a member of the national committee with the Whitney Museum in NY, and honorary director at the Des Moines Art Center.
Pappajohn’s church activities include the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Archdiocesan Council and executive committee, and Leadership 100 board of directors. He received the title of Archon from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 2000.
Pappajohn is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Horatio Alger Award (1995), the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2000), and the Woodrow Wilson International Center Award for Corporate Citizenship (2007) - the first Iowan and the second Greek-American (Pete Peterson was the first) to receive the award. Most recently, Pappajohn was named #8 in the top 25 most influential business leaders of greater Des Moines of 2021 by Business Record. He has received four honorary doctorate degrees and in 2013 he received the Gabby Award for philanthropy from the Greek America Foundation.
The Pappajohns live in Des Moines and have one daughter, Ann Vassiliou. In late December of this 2020, Pappajohn sadly lost his younger brother, Aristotle (90), after a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
22. ARTHUR T. DEMOULAS
$675 MILLION (MassLive)
Bentley College; Married, 4 children
The Demoulas family is one of America’s richest families and usually appears on our list as a whole. However, given the family (legal) feud that has splashed headlines over the past few years, we have decided to feature only Arthur T. Demoulas in this year’s edition.
Arthur T., born in 1955, attended Andover High School, where he played football. He spent his younger years working in the family business and joined the DeMoulas Super Markets Board of Directors after his first year at Bentley College. He worked his way up to vice president of the company and in 1989, after the board rejected his proposal to start a pharmacy division, Arthur T. founded Lee Drug. In 1990, he sold the chain of nine stores to Walgreens.
The Demoulas’ family supermarket empire began in 1917, when Greek immigrants Athanasios (Arthur) and Efrosine Demoulas opened a small market selling fresh lamb in Lowell, MA. In 1950, the original store model was revamped and premiered as the DeMoulas Superette. Arthur turned the business over to his two sons, George and Telemachus (Mike) in 1954. The following year, the Superette tripled in size and became DeMoulas Super Market. Over the next 17 years, the two brothers converted the lamb shop into a successful grocery chain of 15 stores. The brothers each signed a will naming the other as executor of his estate, and reportedly agreed to divide the business equally between their two families in the event of one of their deaths. Both brothers had four children, and both named a son Arthur, after their father.
From their youth, both cousins (George’s son Arthur S. and Mike's son Arthur T.) followed their fathers in the family business. In 1971, George, then 51, died unexpectedly while vacationing in Greece with his family. Mike continued to expand the chain and began opening stores under different names, including Market Basket. Tensions began brewing between the two families and erupted in the 1990s, when it came to light that Mike had been secretly shifting his brother’s half of the company assets into his own name after George’s death. Two decades of lawsuits followed with Mike’s son Arthur T. and his family on one side and Arthur S. on the other. The fight became extremely bitter with the two Arthurs openly saying in court and in public that they hated each other.
In 2013, Arthur S. gained control of the Board of Directors and proceeded to fire Arthur T. from his position as CEO six months later. As a result, thousands of Market Basket workers and their customers took to the streets to protest and boycott the family-owned supermarket and to demand that Arthur T. be given his job back. According to reports, the company lost around $400 million that summer. After seven weeks of negotiations, Arthur T. was back as CEO. The settlement included Arthur T.’s $1.6B cash buyout of Arthur S. and the rest of George’s heirs (according to Forbes).
Despite those difficulties, the business has flourished. Over the past decade it added approximately 30 new stores, a new perishable/produce distribution center, and has doubled its sales. Today, the Tewskbury-based DeMoulas Market Basket, Inc. owns 84 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, employs over 26,000 people and earned $5.3 billion in sales in 2019. The company also announced two store openings in Rhode Island scheduled for opening next year. Market Basket company was ranked by Consumer Reports as the second-best among all national supermarket chains, behind Wegmans. It was also ranked number 79 on Forbes’ list of America’s largest private companies in 2018.
MIT wrote an article in 2019 entitled “The High Road Approach to Worker Compensation” which said of Demoulas and Market Basket: “Despite having more than 70 locations throughout New England, and revenue in the billions, Arthur T. had built a culture more like a mom and pop store. The CEO memorized the names and birthdays of employees. He visited workers when they were sick.” Most recently, as a result of the coronavirus, Cost Cutters, a hair salon in Nashua, NH, told its employees it was planning on closing its doors. Crystal Jordan, a hair stylist that worked at the salon for 21 years, decided to contact the head of the company that owned the building the salon was located in. She said she was surprised when Arthur T.’s receptionist returned her call and told her to hold for the CEO. According to the Union Leader, the salon was able to negotiate a lease agreement that would enable them to stay in their current location.
According to the Lowell Sun, two foundations – the Telemachus and Irene Demoulas Family Foundation with $61 million in assets and the Demoulas Foundation with $30 million in assets – have donated millions to Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, schools, camps, hospitals, the Boston Ballet, and the Boston Museum of Science, Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, MA, Bentley University and Boston College. The greatest beneficiary, however, is the Lowell Plan, an economic development organization for the city, which has received well over $10 million in the last decade.
21. GEORGE SAKELLARIS
$700 MILLION (MassLive)
University of Maine-Orono; Married, 2 children
George Sakellaris, 73, has persevered in the energy industry, working to eliminate regulatory barriers to investing private capital into energy efficiency and renewable initiatives.
Sakellaris was born in Laconia where the young boy excelled in math and science. According to the Worcester Business Journal, Sakellaris remembers one of his teacher’s telling him he must use his math skills to either become a teacher or an engineer. After graduating from high school in Greece, he traveled to Bangor, ME, as a college exchange student in 1965. He spoke little English when he first enrolled at the University of Maine-Orono, but worked his way through his studies and earned a B.S.E.E. degree, driven by a love of mathematics and the sciences. His parents arrived in the U.S. in 1969 and the family settled in Boston. Sakellaris then started working at local utility New England Electrical Systems (NEES), earning an MBA and MSEE from Northeastern University along the way. Then, Sakellaris explains, “in 1979, while working for NEES, the management wanted to establish a company to promote energy efficiency to avoid the need to build new generation plants. They asked me to lead that initiative and I welcomed the challenge.” The subsidiary he launched was called NEES Energy. Then in 1990, Sakellaris purchased NEES Energy and it became the energy conservation company he re-named NORESCO.
In January 2000, he founded Ameresco which he took public 10 years later. The company has become one of the largest energy solutions companies in North America with over 1,000 employees and more than 70 local offices throughout America and the United Kingdom. Ameresco specializes in providing comprehensive services, energy efficiency, infrastructure upgrades, asset sustainability, renewable energy, and energy information management solutions. The company, whose motto is “Green. Clean. Sustainable,” increases energy efficiency for federal, state and local governments, healthcare and educational institutions, public housing authorities, and commercial and industrial customers.
Most recently, Forbes media announced that Ameresco will be named number dix on the 2021 America’s Best Mid-size Companies List - the only energy solutions provider included among the annual list’s 100 companies. In recognition of this high honor, Sakellaris said, “Over the past 20 years, Ameresco has maintained a relentless focus on leading the quest to change the world as a trusted sustainability partner. As a clean tech market leader, we are proud to see this industry recognition, and even more excited as we pursue the tremendous opportunity on the horizon.” Ameresco was also named one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in the nation by the National Association for Business Resources for the second straight year.
Sakellaris is a Distinguished Member Inductee of the Frances Crowe Society at the University of Maine, which gave him the Edward T. Bryand Distinguished Engineer Award in 2007. In May 2012, the University of Maine granted him an Honorary Doctorate for his lifetime of achievements, recognizing his dedication and exemplary leadership in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Some of his other awards include winning an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2011 New England award, and Business Leader of the Year 2012 for Large Business by the Worcester Business Journal. In 2009, he received a Gabby Award (named loosely from the acronym “Greek America’s Best and Brightest”) from the Greek America Foundation. In 2020, he was named an Environment + Energy Leader E+E 100 Honoree and the Silver Winner of Best in Biz’s Executive of the Year category.
Sakellaris supports numerous educational institutions, including Northeastern University, Holy Cross/Hellenic College, and the University of Maine. At UMass Lowell, he established an endowment in memory of his mentor, the late Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas. In addition, he was a founding member of Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. He is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and a major benefactor at his local church, St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Braintree, MA.
An avid sailor, Sakellaris has won the RORC Caribbean twice – once in 2014 and then again in 2016. He has also won the sailing competition Les Voiles de St. Barth three times consecutively - in 2016, 2017 and 2018.