Robert Kraft: the man who made billions from paper

On this day, June 5 in the year 1941, the founder of the Kraft Group was born in Massachusetts, USA. His name is Robert Kenneth Kraft, now a billionaire owner of a conglomerate that controls businesses ranging from paper and packaging to sports teams. As of June 6, 2020, forbes.com listed him as #211 world’s richest person with a net worth of $6.9 billion.

Robert Kraft
Robert Kraft (Credit: BrokenSphere of wiki commons)

Robert was born to an orthodox Jewish family who owned a dress manufacturing business. He finished his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and two years later, his MBA from Harvard Business School.

Robert went to work in the packaging company that was being managed by his father-in-law. In 1968, he gained control of the company through leveraged buyout. Four years later, he founded International Forest Products which became very profitable. Today, his paper and packaging business is the US largest privately-held company in this industry.

Robert’s first foray in the sports business was in 1974 when he and five other investors purchased the Boston Lobsters of World Team Tennis (WTT). Although the Lobsters became famous, the team folded following the 1978 season. Then he set his eyes on football. As an avid fan of the sports, he nurtured the dream of becoming an owner of a major league team. Finally in 1994, he bought the New England Patriot for $172 million. At that time, it was the highest price ever made for football team.

A stadium near Boston was built for the Patriots in 2002 and its total cost of $350 million was shouldered privately by Kraft. The surrounding areas were developed into a sprawling shopping and entertainment district with a multi-story museum called The Hall at Patriot place.

In 1982, the paper and packaging magnate invested in TV broadcasting but unloaded his shareholdings in 1991. In 1998, he founded the Kraft Group LLC as the holding company for his diversified businesses.

As a philanthropist, the Kraft family donated funds for education, healthcare, youth sports, children and women issues, and even Israeli causes including the building of a football field in Israel.

Robert got married in 1963, the year he graduated in college. He has 4 sons with his wife Myra.

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