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Four Pinellas County men make the Forbes 400

Margie Manning

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Four billionaires who live in Pinellas County are among the 400 wealthiest people in America, according to a new list from Forbes.

St. Petersburg residents Ronald Wanek and his son Todd Wanek, chairman and CEO respectively of Ashley Furniture, are on the 2020 Forbes 400. So are Clearwater residents Todd Christopher, a hair care products developer, and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Robert Duggan.

Missing from this year’s list is real estate developer Edward DeBartolo Jr. of Tampa, who has been listed among the Forbes 400 for several years in the past. In fact, there are no Tampa or Hillsborough County residents on the 2020 list.

Here’s a closer look at the local list-makers.

No. 154 Ronald Wanek, with a net worth of $4.6 billion as of Sept. 8.

Ronald Wanek founded Ashley Furniture, which Forbes said is America’s largest home furniture manufacturer and retailer. He started the company in the 1970s with a loan from his father and money he got from selling his home. His self-made score, a measure that takes into account economic backgrounds and obstacles, is a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 reserved for those who overcame the biggest challenges. Wanek also got high marks for philanthropy. Forbes said he has donated millions to the Mayo Clinic to help improve treatment for a heart defect that affected his granddaughter at birth.

No. 299 Todd Wanek, Sept. 8 net worth of $2.8 billion

Early in his career, Todd Wanek spent five years living in Asia, where he managed Ashley Furniture’s factory in Taiwan. He returned to the United States in 1994 and ran international operations. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 1996 and to CEO in 2002. His self-made score is a 4. 

Third Lake Partners LLC is an investment firm for the Wanek family. Third Lake invests in real estate projects across the United States, including 200 Central in downtown St. Petersburg. Third Lake also partnered with Echelon LLC on WaterView at Echelon City Center in Carillon.

No. 359 Todd Christopher, Sept. 8 net worth of $2.3 billion

Christopher, the fourth generation in a family of hairdressers, founded hair care products company Vogue International in 1987, and sold a stake in the company in 2014 to private equity firm Carlyle Group. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) bought Vogue for $3.3 billion in 2016. Vogue owns several hair care brands, including OGX, and Christopher has trademarked several popular hair care phrases. His self-made score is a 9.

No. 378 Robert Duggan, Sept. 8 net worth of $2.2 billion

Duggan is a serial entrepreneur who led the 2015 sale of biotech firm Pharmacyclics to AbbVie for $21 billion in cash and stock. Duggan, whose son died of brain cancer, invested in Pharmacyclics in 2004 before it developed a cancer drug, Imbruvica. Duggan currently is CEO and executive chairman of Summit Therapeutics and a member of the board of directors of Pulse Biosciences. His former wife, Trish Duggan, is founder and benefactor of the Imagine Museum. His self-made score is an 8. Duggan is a major donor to the Church of Scientology, of which he is a member, according to Forbes, which reported he’s given the church more than $360 million over his lifetime.

Forbes said it examines federal securities filings, court and probate records and news articles to determine its annual list. It also factors in debt and charitable giving.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos tops this year’s list, with a net worth of $179 billion, while Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is No. 2, with $111 billion. The full list is here.

 

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