The number is a whooping $3.6 Billion. That’s how much. That was the net worth of John Richard Simplot, the founder of the J.R. Simplot Company; the company which till date supplies the golden fries of McDonalds. The story behind the company proves that hard work gets you to those elusive billions.
The Simplot Company was already the largest shipper of fresh potatoes in the United States by the Second World War. The company also pioneered the frozen French Fries – an invention that is used even today and proved crucial to minting his billions. Till the time Simplot created this process of frozen fries, Mcdonalds used to cut their fries fresh at each store.
This was alright for most of the time but the best potato for fries, the Russet potato was not available during the summer. This meant that restaurants could not ensure a consistent quality of their fries. Simplot solved the problem with their frozen fries.
In 1967, Simplot and McDonalds founder Ray Kroc agreed by hand shake that from then onwards all fries in the United States would come from the Simplot Company. The agreement holds till date.
Mr. John Richard Simplot , ended up being the oldest billionaire on the Forbes 400 list at the time of his death in 2008. While one cant say that McDonalds alone made him all his billions (he had significant other investments), the frozen McDonalds fry was certainly responsible to get him to most of the way.