Multi-billionaire, Robert Kraft is mainly known for owning the New England Patriots football team. Now at the age of 79, Kraft has spent many years building up his empire, however, he hasn’t always been in the position he is today.
Kraft started out in the paper business in 1965 when he joined his father-in-law’s company, straight out of college. The Rand-Whitney Group, allowed him to apply what he had learned in the classroom, into real-life business.
After a few years in the business, learning the ropes, the young graduate decided to take a leap and branch out on his own. His first big move was to buy a controlling stake of the company, giving himself more freedom and power.
Leaps and Bounds
Four years after buying a stake in his father-in-law’s company, Kraft decided it was time to build an empire of his own. This all started with International Forest Products, a global trade company.
Kraft’s paper and packaging company became one of the biggest exporters in North America, a huge achievement for a first-time Entrepreneur. This prompted the planning of the Kraft Group, a holding company for all of his businesses.
In an interview, Kraft stated,:
“It was very risky. I made a taker pay arrangement that I’d either sell their product or I’d buy it – 200,000 tons – I didn’t have the net worth to do it. Thank goodness there was no internet.
Their checking was not as good as it should have been. I got lucky.
Within six months when I took over that commitment to take over that mill President Nixon put in price freezes here. I had the only new product going from Canada to anywhere in the world.
None of the American companies could do that. So I had people in Korea, Iran and it was legal in those days all over the world coming to me and I was able to leverage that into a situation where we built a company where today we are in over 100 countries in the world.”
From Paper to Pro
While trying to branch out into new streams of revenue, Kraft became an investor in the New England Television Corporation. With many shares in the company, he decided to unload his shares, giving him access to $25 million.
Robert Kraft had always loved sports, so it wasn’t a shock when he started sniffing around major sports teams like the New England Patriots. His first experience with purchasing a team dates back to 1974.
This team was then known as the Boston Lobsters of World TeamTennis (WTT). Not long after the team disbanded and rumors were surging that Kraft was interested in buying the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics.
Kraft knew that buying the stadium that the Patriots were contracted to was a power move. Since it was written in the lease that they had to play at that stadium, he had a lot of control over their team.
After being out-bit for the Patriots franchise, Kraft continued to fight for ownership of the team. His leverage, however, was his ownership of the stadium.
When the team’s new owner asked to break the lease, allowing the Patriots to be moved to another state, the seasoned entrepreneur refused, keeping them locked in until 2001.
After long and tedious battles with multiple owners over the years, one eventually agreed to sell the team to Kraft for $172 million in 1994. This was one of the highest deals of that time for a football team.
With multiple streams of revenue, Kraft was at an all-time high in his career. This success caused him to build onto his ever-growing empire.
In 2002 the Patriots owner funded a $350 million stadium for his team, which would be their permanent home in Foxborough, Massachusetts. This stadium would, later on, be known as Gillette Stadium.
This caused a chain reaction in 2007, when Kraft developed the land around the stadium, launching Patriot Place. A $375 million open-air shopping and entertainment center, which would draw in residents and tourists from all over the world.
Money, Money, Money
Robert Kraft is currently worth a whopping $6.6 billion, making him number 82 on the “Forbes 400”. Going from a small town boy working in paper, to a multi-billionaire, Kraft has definitely worked hard over the years.
Strategy has played a huge role in his path to financial freedom. From the very first decision to hold a controlling share in his father-in-law’s company, his intuition was like no other.
As one of the most well known and wealthiest people in America, Kraft continues to search for other avenues to invest in. We are dying to see where he will put his money next.