The newest billionaire

Canada’s newest billionaire is Frank Hasenfratz, founder and chairman of Linamar Corp. Linamar share price at the close of trading today was $65.41 which means his 15.3 million shares are worth $1 billion. The number is all the more remarkable given that those shares were worth $750 million just three months ago.

Hasenfratz, the focus of a book written in 2012 by Susan M. Papp and me, Driven to Succeed, founded Linamar in 1966. He had a lathe, for which he paid $1,000, that he operated in the basement of his home. As the sole employee his first contract was making oil pumps for Ford. Today Linamar has 18,000 employees in 44 plants in eight countries making parts for Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Caterpillar and many other firms. About half of all employees are in Guelph, Ont., where Linamar is based. 

Frank’s daughter Linda has been CEO since 2002. Her 3.8 million shares are worth about $250 million. One million of those shares were bought in 2008 after the global financial crisis sent markets tumbling. Linda paid $3.70 a share. You have to have confidence in yourself and your company to make that kind of personal investment. 

At 79, Frank still comes into the office every day. Among his duties is to visit each plant at least once a year and try to find $1 million in savings at every stop. “Whenever you go into a plant, you learn something or you teach something,” he says. “If you don’t do either, it was a waste of time.”

Knowing Frank as I do, he won’t celebrate this first billion. He’ll come in tomorrow and start working on the next billion.



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