Entries in Pacific West

Spreckels, Walter
Walter Spreckels emigrated to the United States to become a clerk in his cousin’s sugar factory in Yonkers, New York. He started a family and made a fine career as a sugar business executive. World War I interrupted this steady improvement when Spreckels was deemed an “alien enemy” and barred from his position. However, he eventually rose to become president of the Syrup Products Company, a subsidiary of his former employer, the Federal Sugar Refining Company. After being pushed out of the company as a result of running afoul of Prohibition enforcement, he went on to become a labor negotiator for the National Recovery Agency and eventually a private industrial relations consultant in California. Continue Reading »
Strauss, Levi
The name Levi Strauss is famous worldwide, and will be forever linked to the world’s first blue jeans, a product he helped to create. But Strauss was more than just the manifestation of his various denim products. He started his business when San Francisco was a raw, rowdy town and when he was only in his early twenties. The man and the city grew up together, as Strauss helped to make it the commercial capital of the West. Continue Reading »
Sutro, Adolph
Adolph Sutro, full name Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro, was a German merchant, entrepreneur, and politician who emigrated from Aachen, Germany to San Francisco with a ferocious ambition to attain success in the “New World.” Rarely lacking doubt in his own capabilities, Sutro pursued a variety of businesses in pursuit of both financial success and public renown, including the construction of the Sutro Tunnel as part of the development of the Comstock Lode silver mine in Nevada and the development of a large real estate portfolio in his adopted hometown of San Francisco. Continue Reading »
Tede, Wolfgang
Wolfgang “Dieter” Tede was a founding partner of the Marine Chartering Company (MCC), a leading international ocean transportation company established in San Francisco. Continue Reading »
Thalberg, Irving
Irving Grant Thalberg, the son of German-Jewish immigrants, considered a career as a merchant and a lawyer before using kinship and ethnic networks to secure an entry-level position in the U.S. film industry. Continue Reading »
Thiel, Peter
Peter Thiel is a technology entrepreneur, hedge fund manager, venture capitalist, libertarian, and philanthropist. He began his career by co-founding PayPal together with Elon Musk and Max Levchin in 1998 and served as the company’s chairman and CEO until the company sold to eBay in 2002. Since then, he has embarked on a number of projects including the establishment of Clarium Capital Management, a global macroeconomic hedge fund; investment in Facebook; the launch of The Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital fund; the co-formation of Mithril Capital Management, a global venture capital firm; and the launching of the Thiel Foundation, a nonprofit organization that carries out philanthropic activities. Continue Reading »
Timken, Henry
Henry Timken developed the tapered roller bearing and went on to found a company to manufacture roller bearings that grew into a large, multinational corporation. The Timken Company, formerly Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company, remains, to this day, one of the most successful global family businesses in the United States. Continue Reading »
Weyerhaeuser, Frederick
First-generation immigrant Frederick Weyerhaeuser transformed the American lumber industry and attained almost unimaginable wealth in the process. Today, the family-run Weyerhaeuser Company remains one of the largest lumber producers in the Pacific Northwest and in the world. Continue Reading »
Wollenberg, Harry Lincoln
Second-generation German Harry Wollenberg helped found Longview Fibre Co., a manufacturer of paperboard, corrugated paperboard, and corrugated boxes, in 1926. For the next fifty-two years he built the company from one plant to twelve and increased the share price from five cents in 1926 to $350 in 1979. Continue Reading »