The Life of John Mackey: Founder of Whole Foods Market

On this day, August 15 in the year 1953, the founder of Whole Foods Market was born in Houston, Texas, USA. His name is John Mackey, one of the most influential voices in the organic movement.

John Mackey
John Mackey (Credit:

John Mackey was the son of a professor and CEO of a healthcare company. He studied philosophy and religion at the University of Austin and Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas but he didn’t get a degree. After college, he lived in a vegetarian community and took a job in a health-food store. Later, he convinced her girlfriend to put up their own store. In 1978, they opened SaferWay with $45,000 capital that they borrowed from friends and relatives. John Mackey was 25 years old then.

In 1980, the couple merged their store with the one owned by Craig Weller and Mark Skiles resulting to a bigger store called Whole Foods Market. Within six month, this full service grocery became the highest volume natural-foods store in America. In the following years, it opened branches in Houston, Dallas, New Orleans and later, New York. While opening new stores, it also bought competing grocery stores and food processing companies. In 1992, the company went public. In 1998, Fortune magazine named it as one of “100 best companies to work for”. In 2005, it joined the Fortune 500 list and in 2007, it purchased its biggest competitor, Wild Oats Markets.

At present, Whole Foods Market operates more than 400 branches in the US, Canada and United Kingdom. On June 6, 2017, it was announced that has bought the company in a deal worth $13.7 billion. John’s net worth is estimated by at $100 million. After the deal, he was retained as the CEO of the company.

John Mackey is married to Deborah Morin. They have no children. He is the co-author of Conscious Capitalism.



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