Greek businessman cover story at Forbes
The prestigious Forbes magazine hosts on the cover of the May 2015 issue, the Greek-American businessman and investor Dean Metropoulos. Dean Metropoulos is known in the business world for his ability to «revive» and increase the value of traditional products. This ability is the reason that Forbes chose him for the cover.
The miracle, as Forbes describes the recovery of the snack company Twinkie’s, which he bought and managed not only to make it again a leading enterprise but also to make enormous profits of $2 billion.
The 68–year-old is a specialist in turning battered food brands into tidy profits. Over 35 years he had rehabbed dozens of businesses, from PAM cooking spray to Pabst Blue Ribbon–in 2000 FORBES dubbed him Mr. Shelf Space–creating an estimated $2.2 billion fortune for himself. Food was in his blood: His father farmed in Greece before moving the family to Watertown, Mass. when young Dean was 10 years old. Metropoulos earned a B.A. and an M.B.A. at Babson College, and pursued a Ph.D. in international finance at Columbia while working at General Telephone & Electronics (which would merge with Bell Atlantic to form Verizon). He decided he liked business better than books, ditching Columbia for a real–world Ph.D. at GTE’s European unit. “I used to travel 30 days a month and worked in 75 to 80 countries.” There was telecom in Mexico, Argentina and Iran; lighting in Italy; television tubes in Germany; joint ventures in India, Japan and Australia.
Read below the Forbes” article:
With ingenuity, capital and creative chemistry, billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos and Apollo Global’s Andy Jhawar rescued Hostess Brands–and set themselves up to feast on a $2 billion gain.
Walk in the door of Hostess Brands’ flagship bakery in Emporia, Kansas and your first thought is: What a dump. The former front office for the bakery that pumps out classic American treats like golden Twinkies and swirl-topped Cup Cakes is a series of dank, near-empty rooms with scuffed, oatmeal-color linoleum floors, water-stained ceiling panels and a jumble of mismatched office furniture that looks like it was picked up off the curb. Three minutes in this place and you’re suddenly thankful for the wilted sign on the front door warning visitors that firearms are barred from the premises.
This grim wing of the Hostess plant is a leftover from the old Hostess–the one that debt, pension costs and mismanagement shuttered in 2012. But throw on a hairnet and pass on to the newly rehabilitated factory floor, and it makes sense why billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos, Apollo Global senior partner Andy Jhawar and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback are standing here, breathing in the sticky sweet air on a foggy April morning.
The new factory is bright and clean. Tight rows of Twinkies march along the $20 million Auto Bake system with the precision of Soviet soldiers in a May Day parade. Yellow robotic arms, which look like they should be welding Teslas rather than boxing Twinkies, stack snacks with hypnotic rhythm. This 500-person plant produces more than 1 million Twinkies a day, 400 million a year. That’s 80% of Hostess’ total output–output that under the old regime required 14 plants and 9,000 employees. And it’s about to get more efficient: Metropoulos and Jhawar just installed a second Auto–Bake system, this one for Cup Cakes, and the governor is here to cut the ribbon.
At age 32 he made his first American acquisition–a cheese company in his wife’s native Vermont. He bought two other cheese makers and flipped the business. Cheese taught him an important lesson. “Food brands have a different connection with people, unlike, say, a light bulb company,” says Metropoulos. In the 1990s he teamed with Dallas private equity firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, buying unloved food businesses. In 1996, with Hicks’ backing, he acquired International Home Foods, using it as a platform to scoop up classic brands like Dennison’s Chili, Bumble Bee Tuna and Chef Boyardee.
His two sons, Evan and Daren, joined Metropoulos in the family business early. As young boys, they say, they got tossed from stores for rearranging the family’s brands on the shelves, and as teenagers they convinced Dad to market Chef Boyardee with WWF wrestling. “It transformed the brand,” Metropoulos says with a big smile. “We’d shoot commercials with stars like Mankind and Steve Austin pitching jumbo meat balls for hungry teenagers. The Rock would sleep at our house.” A bout a decade later Evan and Dar e n persuaded Dad to purchase hipster beer brewer Pabst. The sons served as co-CEOs. In 2014 the family sold it to Oasis Beverage for an estimated $750 million–tripling their money in three years.