Reginald F. Lewis
First Black Billionaire
Sunday Memoirs takes a look back in the past to find inspiration for the future. We will take time to share great inspiring accounts and building moments of the Black Church and others, depicting religious traditions and spiritual awakenings that contributed to the foundation of the church and our faith today. We will also explore great businessman and women of faith that contributed to the faith and made our communities better by pursuing their God-given purposes. At times we will share inspirational words to educate and encourage individuals on their journey of faith in God.
Starting this Sunday we will introduce a series called "Black Solutionists", focusing on the individuals that took chances on pursuing their dreams and brought to our culture a wealth of knowledge and life lessons on success that made a difference in history and our world. We start our journey with Reginald F. Lewis, the first black billionaire.
"The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately." (Reginald F. Lewis)
Reginald F. Lewis was born on December 7, 1942 in an East Baltimore neighborhood he once described as “semi-tough.” Lewis was strongly influenced by his family. His parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts always encouraged Lewis to “be the best that you can be.” Reginald’s grandmother would teach him the importance of saving, even cutting and peeling strips from the bottom of a tin can and nailing it to the floor of a closet to protect his savings. At the age of ten, Lewis set up a delivery route to sell the Afro American newspaper. After building the business from ten customers to more than a hundred in two years, he sold the route at a profit.
Reginald attended Dunbar High School, where he distinguished himself as an athlete on the playing field and a hard working student in the class room. He was quarterback of the football team, shortstop for varsity baseball, a forward on the basketball team and was team captain of all three. In 1961, Lewis entered Virginia State University on a football scholarship.
In 1965, the Rockefeller Foundation funded a summer school program at Harvard Law School to introduce a select number of black students to legal studies. Reginald lobbied for his acceptance and got in. After graduation (HLS ‘68), Lewis landed a job practicing corporate law with a prestigious New York law firm. Two years later he, along with a few others, set up Wall Street’s first African American law firm.
A desire to "do the deals myself" led Lewis to establish TLC Group, L.P. in 1983. His first successful venture was the $22.5 million leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Company. It was a struggling business in a declining industry.
Just months after his first successful exit, Reginald F. Lewis’s unknown two man team outbid huge firms like Citicorp to secure the purchase of Beatrice Foods (64 companies in 31 countries). At $985 million, the deal was the largest leveraged buyout of overseas assets by an American company at that time. By 1992, the company had sales of over $1.8 billion annually, making it the first black-owned business to generate a billion dollars in annual sales.
To find out more about Reginal Lewis visit www.reginaldflewis.com. All bio content comes from this website.
Purchase Book: "BH365: An Inclusive Account of American History" at https://bit.ly/Joannbh365
Music By: Kirk Whalum, Title Song: Wade In the Water