It is said that not all millionaires are people born with silver spoons on their mouths. This is quite true for Ben Hill Griffin Jr., former U. S. senator and entrepreneur extraordinaire. Mr. Griffin’s success is said to have been borne out of his industrious and friendly nature, while others have jokingly stated that this was due to his ability to control the weather, as he was born when a hurricane was passing by Florida. Mr. Griffin’s success has also nothing to do with his educational attainment, he did study agriculture at the University of Florida but he eventually left the institution without finishing his degree. He claimed that he never had to finish his degree because he felt that he had learned all that is needed to be learned from the University. He eventually paid his respects to the University by donating about 20 million dollars for research despite not being able to finish his degree there.
His success as a citrus and cattle magnate was also attributed to his honesty and hands-on approach on things, though he often says that his luck has also played a role in his success. His citrus empire started with a 10-acre orange grove which he received as a wedding gift from his father. He tended this grove up until it grew and expanded into one of California’s largest. Among his many achievements was the establishment of the Ben Griffin Inc., is Chairman of the Board of Alico Inc., President of the Florida Citrus Processors Association and Chancellor of Florida Southern College. He always placed his feet on the ground by thinking as a small-scale entrepreneur rather than a tycoon. He often claims that he would rather know what exactly happens in his company rather than have a big staff and that he prefers to stick with his policies than adopt policies from “big companies”. Mr. Griffin is often heard telling his employees to “Work hard and save” and to “Start little and watch it grow”. Politically, Mr. Griffin was a democrat and was known to be a member of the Florida Legislature for about 12 years, the Florida Senate for 4 years, and finally in the Florida House of Representatives for 8 years. He lost to Reubin Askew in the bid for being the Governor of Florida in 1974 (“Ben Hill Griffin Jr. ”, 2006). Despite this, he passed several bills regarding the marketing and improvement of the citrus industry during his time as a law-maker, earning him high regard as the foremost authority in citrus-growing.
Mr. Griffin Jr. died on March 1, 1990, and his death was considered to be a great loss not only for the citrus industry but also to the State of California as well. A year before his death, he was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 400 hundred richest Americans at that time. His legacy has been passed on to his son, Ben Griffin III when he was named as Chairman of the Board and CEO of Alico Inc. One of the many companies that his father established during his lifetime. Like his father, Ben Griffin III exhibited strong work values during his 14-year tenure in Alico Inc. Among Ben Griffin, III's accomplishments include the establishment of Florida Gulf Coast University’s site, the development of about 15,000 acres of sugar cane in Florida, and the expansion of the company’s agricultural aspects. U. S. Representative Katherine Harris, Ben Hill Griffin’s granddaughter, on the other hand, inherited his grandfather’s political sense. She now serves as a 2nd term house member of Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Ben Hill Griffin’s down-to-Earth nature and achievements are not only remembered by his political colleagues but also by the people who are very close to him: his employees. As one employee puts it "If Mr. Griffin ain't fussing at you a little bit, he doesn't like you.
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- “Ben Hill Griffin Jr”. Wikipedia. (2006).
- Retrieved July 29, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Hill_Griffin “Ben Hill Griffin III Steps Down as Chairman of Alico Inc”. (2004).
- http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2004_Feb_26/ai_113657585/print“Katherine Harris”. Wikipedia. (2006).
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Harris#Trivia “The Great Floridian 2000 Program”. (2006).
- The state of Florida. Retrieved July 29, 2006, from http://www.flheritage.com/services/sites/floridians/?section=f Trussel, Tait. (1989).
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