Samuel Johnson, who became a billionaire by expanding the wax company started by his great-grandfather into the consumer products giant SC Johnson, died of cancer, his family said. He was 76.
Johnson, who retired as chairman of the Racine-based company in 2000, was ranked as the richest man in Wisconsin, with a personal wealth estimated by Forbes magazine this year at $7.4bn (€11bn).
An obituary released by the company said: “Mr Johnson believed ’business should serve a higher purpose in life’ and advocated corporate practices that valued people as much as profits.”
In 1967, Johnson became the fourth generation to lead the 118-year-old family business that once was called Johnson Wax. He turned the business into four global companies that now employ more than 28,000 people, making furniture polishes, waxes and other household cleaning products.