TNH’s 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America List 2020: Numbers 50-41
TNH’s 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America List 2020: Numbers 40-31
30. MICHAEL D. CAPELLAS – California
$340 MILLION (TNHE)
Kent State University; Married, 2 children
Michael D. Capellas, 65, is a 30-plus year veteran of the information technology industry and is viewed as one of the leading technology thought leaders of our time.
Capellas developed an interest in computers as an undergraduate at Kent State University. Shortly after he graduated, he met his wife, Marie Angelillo, a former nurse. The two married in 1979, and traveled the world for two decades as Capellas’ business reputation grew. He was a senior vice president of Oracle Corporation from 1997 to 1998. Following Oracle, he went to Compaq where he held the positions of CIO, COO, and later Chairman and CEO. In his work with Compaq, he is credited with making it Microsoft’s key strategic partner for the release of its Windows 2000 operating system. Following HewlettPackard’s acquisition of Compaq, he stayed on as president of HP for six months to ease the integration of the two companies. He then left HP to become chairman and CEO of MCI WorldCom between 2002 and 2006, presiding over the eventual Verizon-MCI merger. Worldcom remains, to this day, the largest turnaround story in corporate history. After the transfer to Verizon was completed, Capellas received a $40 million severance package. Later, he founded Atlanta-based Capellas Strategic Partners, a strategic technology advisory firm.
Capellas says he inherited his gritty determination from his father, a Greek citizen who fought with the Greek Army against the Germans in Italy during World War II. After the war, the elder Capellas met and married his wife, Juliet, in Italy. The family then immigrated to Ohio, where Capellas’ father worked his way up from laborer to superintendent at the Republic Steel Corporation. He worked there for 30 years.
Capellas and his wife have two daughters. He enjoys golf and rock and roll. He is also actively involved in community and charitable work. In 2002, he became the first recipient of the Hope Technology Award from the Center for Missing & Exploited Children. He is a member of the board of governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Capellas previously served as a member of the American University Board of Trustees and recently served as co-chair of the CLOUD Commission, including specialists who offered the Obama Administration recommendations on cloud computing policies. In mid-2015, Capellas was appointed to Tenable Network Security’s Board of Directors. Capellas also currently serves on the Boards of Cisco and Flextronics, and on the Advisory Board of Kony.
29. DR. NICHOLAS GALAKATOS – Massachusetts
$379 MILLION (TNHE)
BIOMEDICAL TECHNOLOGY, VENTURE CAPITAL
Reed College; Married, 2 children
Nicholas Galakatos, 59, is the Global Head of Life Sciences of Blackstone, 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.
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 before 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 2007 sale of Hypnion to Eli Lilly for $315 million,” Forbes reported. He is also the Chairman of Anthos Therapeutics and 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’s and Reed College’s board of trustees.
A few months ago, Blackstone said it would invest $400M in a joint venture with Swiss drug company Ferring that is working on an experimental gene therapy for bladder cancer. Galakatos will be overseeing the project.
28. TOM HANKS & RITA WILSON – California
$467 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Married, 4 children
Although he always considered himself a philhellene, Tom Hanks may officially call himself a ‘Greek’ now – no more ‘acting’! Just before the close of 2019, Greece’s President Prokopis Pavlopoulos signed an honorary naturalization order allowing the 63-year-old actor to claim Greek citizenship. Hanks’ first tweet in 2020 read: “Starting 2020 as an honorary citizen of all of Greece! Kronia pola! (more or less, ‘happy year!) Hanx”
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 Minister of the Interior, Takis Theodorikakos.
Hanks converted to Greek Orthodoxy in 1988 prior to marrying Rita Wilson (who’s 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, whose mother is Greek, is believed to have played a crucial role in his decision to co-produce the romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding with her. He also produced Mamma Mia!
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 (photos of Hanks helping with the Epitaphion on Good Friday go viral every year) 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).
27. JOHN G. RANGOS SR. – Pennsylvania
$468 MILLION (TNHE)
Houston School of Business; 3 children
John G. Rangos Sr., 90, a renowned philanthropist, made his fortune through the 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.
The massive Okeechobee, FL landfill (approved in 1993, and now operated by Waste Management) is just one example of Rangos’ commitment to sound environmental practices and regional economic development. That site has a 100-year capacity and receives 7,000 tons of waste daily. Such monumental, environmentally friendly disposal sites have also been an economic boon to the areas in which they function. Okeechobee County still receives millions of dollars in royalties from its landfill each year, boosting the local government’s ability to finance schools and roads, as well as improve police and firefighting services.
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 and former fundraising chairman for UNICEF. He sits on numerous boards. The Rangos Foundation supports medical research at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, one of the world’s finest pediatric care centers, and 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. The Rangos Foundation also supports programs at Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon Universities, and many other programs and organizations (e.g., the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society). Rangos has recently taken an active interest in helping the country’s wounded warriors readapt to civilian life.
In early 2016, he received an honorary doctorate from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY. 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 in 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.
More recently, the Rangos Research Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh was reported to be closing in on a cure for diabetes.
26. MARCUS A. LEMONIS – Illinois
$500 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Marquette University (Political Science); Married
Although technically not Greek by blood, Marcus Anthony Lemonis, was raised by a Greek father (Leo) and a Lebanese mother (Sophia) in Miami, Florida. Born in Beirut, Lebanon during a violent civil war, the Lemonis couple adopted Marcus from a Beirut orphanage where he was abandoned only four days after his birth. The Greek-American couple took him to what became known as home nine months later.
Lemonis, now 45, eventually became a businessman, investor, politician, and television personality. He grew up learning about the operations of the automotive industries as his grandfather owned two of the largest Chevrolet dealerships in the country (in Tampa and Miami). At the age of 12, he started a lawn-mowing business to raise funds to open a candy business. During his time at Marquette University, he served as the president of the Student Athletic Committee and organized clothing drives for the homeless in Milwaukee. At the young age of 22, he ran for the Florida House of Representatives and was endorsed by the Miami Herald, but ultimately lost the campaign.
Lemonis eventually took a job at AutoNation, the country’s largest car dealer, and worked his way up to regional manager. Then he took some advice from a family friend, Lee Iacocca (the former head of Chrysler Corporation), who told him the path to long-term success lay in finding an industry that was ripe for transformation. Iacocca advised him to get into the camping and RV business, which put him on the path to eventual chairmanship at America’s #1 source for RV’s, camping accessories, and RV maintenance and repair.
The entrepreneur is the current CEO of companies like Camping World Holdings, Inc. (which acquired FreedomRoads – an American corporation specializing in selling recreational vehicles, motor parts and motor services), Good Sam Enterprises (a subscription-based products and membership clubs targeted towards recreational vehicle and other outdoor enthusiasts), and Gander Mountain Company, Inc. (a retail network of stores for hunting, fishing and camping. Apart from these companies, Lemonis is probably best known for being the presenter of the American reality television show, The Profit which focuses on saving small businesses (like The Simple Greek and Ellison Eyewear) across the country. The show is currently in its 7th season and has earned Lemonis the nickname the “Business Turnaround King.”
Lemonis married a fellow entrepreneur named Bobbi Raffelin (more than 20 years his senior) in 2018. The couple first met in 2016 when Lemonis purchased a fashion business (Runway) belonging to Raffel.
25. ANGELO K. TSAKOPOULOS – California
$600 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
California State University (Political Science & Business), Sacramento; Married, 6 children
Born in the village of Rizes in Arcadia, Greece, 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. Encouraged by a close mentor to continue his education, Tsakopoulos studied political science and business at California State University, Sacramento. While attending school, Tsakopoulos supported himself as a real estate salesman, foreshadowing his highly successful career in real estate development.
Tsakopoulos founded AKT Development Corporation in Sacramento, California, which became a leading real estate development firm in the area under his leadership and has built tens of thousands of 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.
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.
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, 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 and his family have established Hellenic Studies chairs at several major American universities across the country: Georgetown, Stanford, and Columbia among them.
24. JOHN PAPPAJOHN – Iowa
$695 MILLION (TNHE)
University of Iowa (Business); Married, 1 child
John Pappajohn just celebrated 50 years in the venture capitalist business world and continues to be a leader in his field as well as keeping up with technological advancements (invest in medical technology and health care related products he says!).
Pappajohn is an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and at 91 years old, a self-proclaimed workaholic – still working 7 days a week (as reported by Iowa Innovation in June of 2019). 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 US 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 says. “I’d pick up pennies I found on the street. I still do; habit I guess.”
His father died 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 he 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, Iowa. He became one of the early venture capitalists.
Throughout his career as a venture capitalist, 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.
Pappajohn serves as director on the boards of three publicly traded companies: Cancer Genetics, Inc., American CareSource Inc., and CNS Response, Inc., a company which uses EEG-generated biomarkers for use in personalized medicine in psychiatry.
Both Pappajohn and his wife, Mary, are avid philanthropists, having gifted more than $100 million to various causes. 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.
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. In December 2010 the Pappajohns pledged $26.4 million towards a new University of Iowa biomedical research building. The couple has gifted over $100 million in various philanthropies; 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.
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. 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 (formerly Chairman). He is a vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, a member of the national committee with the Whitney Museum in New York City, 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). He is the first Iowan and the second Greek-American (Pete Peterson was the first) to receive the Woodrow Wilson Award. 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.
23. DEMOULAS FAMILY – Massachusetts
$710 MILLION (The Boston Globe)
The Demoulas family is one of America’s richest families. Their lucrative Market Basket Supermarket chain, which celebrated its centennial anniversary three years ago, has a notable and interesting history.
The family’s 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 store 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. Demoulas and Mike’s son Arthur T. Demoulas) 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; the two Arthurs openly said 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 and a new perishable/produce distribution center, and doubled sales. Today, the Tewskbury-based DeMoulas Market Basket, Inc. owns 79 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, employs more than 25,000 people and earns more than $5 billion in annual sales. The 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.
In October 2014, National Labor Secretary Thomas Perez spoke at the National Press Club of Arthur T. Demoulas that he “maintained a family-friendly work environment, paid his workers well, and contributed generously to their retirement.” MIT wrote an article in 2019 called 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.”
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, Mass., 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.
22. GEORGE SAKELLARIS – Massachusetts
$739 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 and after graduating from high school there, he arrived in 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.
He 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 New England Electric, NEES 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 1997, he sold that industry-leading independent energy services company to Equitable Resources (EQT), a Fortune 500 company. Sakellaris continued to lead NORESCO and was appointed as a Senior Vice President of Equitable Resources. In January 2000, he left EQT and three months later founded Ameresco.
Sakellaris took Ameresco 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.
Today Ameresco has dozens of offices throughout North America and Europe and over a thousand employees providing strong local operations. “Green. Clean. Sustainable” is the motto of the company that increases energy efficiency for federal, state and local governments, healthcare and educational institutions, public housing authorities, and commercial and industrial customers.
In October 2014, Ameresco was chosen to construct a $25.4 million solar project at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC). Minnesota’s largest solar generation site to date, the airport houses a 3-MW solar installation on the top deck of two Terminal 1 parking structures.
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. His 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.
He 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.
A few weeks ago, rumors started to surface that French power utility Engie SA had recently approached Ameresco and expressed interest in acquiring it. As Reuters said, the approach by Engie will test the appetite of Mr. Sakellaris (who remains the controlling shareholder) to cash out. So, although Sakellaris is number 22 on TNH’s 50 Wealthiest this year, he may be much higher up next year.
21. JOHN PAYIAVLAS – Ohio
$751 MILLION (TNHE)
FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRY
Married, 2 children
John Payiavlas, 88, is chairman of AVI Foodsystems, the country’s largest independent, family-owned and operated contract food service company, providing vending, institutional dining, and coffee service operations.
A son of Greek immigrants from Ohio and roots in the island of Chios, Payiavlas grew up in a working-class family with hopes of realizing the American dream. In 1951, Payiavlas was drafted into the United States Army and promptly left for basic training in Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1952, he was deployed to join the UN forces supporting South Korea and later transferred to the Greek Expeditionary Force Battalion. He was one of four Greek-Americans to serve in this Battalion and was awarded the Commander’s Silver Cross of Valour, the highest military decoration of the Greek state. Payiavlas completed his service in 1953 and was honorably discharged as Sergeant First Class.
Payiavlas’ successful journey in food service began when he and two friends opened and operated a local diner, the Village Cafe, in their small hometown of Warren, Ohio. In 1956, he married Marisa Tsagaris and four years later he founded AVI after a frequent customer presented John an opportunity to purchase a very small vending company known as Automatic Vendors. His decision to seize the opportunity later resulted in him running a multi-million-dollar corporation.
From the beginning, he was determined to make his business a success. Insisting on absolutely no shortcuts, he differentiated himself from the competition by providing homemade “from scratch” fresh foods for the refrigerated vending machines he serviced. The company has grown immensely with 6,500 locations in 44 states and serves millions of consumers daily in some of the most prestigious institutions in America, including industrial centers, corporate headquarters complexes, universities, school systems and healthcare facilities throughout the country. Their clients include Ohio State University, FedEx, DirecTV, BMV of North America, Xerox, General Electric, Wellesley College, Progressive Insurance, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Verizon, and Xerox. Intensely private, Payiavlas runs the company as chairman of the board, while his son Anthony is president and CEO and his daughter Patrice (Patsy) Kouvas serves as vice chairman (they have come a long way since they first started at the business by sweeping the floors, preparing sandwiches and assisting in the office).
Family values, a strong work ethic and dedication to customer needs continue to permeate through thousands of team members in every facet of the business. As Chairman, Payiavlas has been actively involved while his children lead the organization with the same enthusiasm, commitment, and vision. Payiavlas and his wife were honored in 2006 with the Cleveland Clinic’s Distinguished Fellow Award. They have supported several of the clinic’s initiatives, including the Heart and Vascular Institute, Taussig Cancer Center, Glickman Urological Institute, and Department of Nutrition Therapy. In April, 2017, the Payiavlas family donated $500,000 to Youngstown (OH) State University for their new sports media center.
In 2000, Payivlas was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame of Northeast Ohio’s Inside Business Magazine (ibmag.com). In October, 2016, at the ‘Oxi’ Day Foundation in Washington, DC, Payiavlas was honored with the Jaharis Service Award sponsored by the Jaharis Family (also featured in this edition). He is a Life-Time Chairman of the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund, an Archon Depoutatos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as a member of AHEPA and other community and business organizations.
The Payiavlas family, including their two children and six grandchildren, all reside in Warren, Ohio.