Monday, July 27, 2009

Message to the Readers

Dear Readers,

First, let me thank you for reading Heroes of Capitalism. While I still believe that honoring true heroes who have used private property to create wealth is valuable, I have come to believe that there is something of greater value to which I must dedicate my private time and resources.

The past year has brought about risks to our liberty that cannot be ignored. The call for socialized health care, the blame of free markets for the financial crisis and the renewal of reliance on government to fix all evils is only the short list of concerns. It has weighed on my heart that Heroes of Capitalism as a blog is simply not doing enough to promote and protect liberty.

Let me assure you that as Heroes of Capitalism stops production, as an individual I will continue to promote and fight for liberty. Let me encourage you to take stock of the present and ask what future you want. The U.S. is at an important crossroads, and we as citizens can (and must) do more to defend our basic liberties. So let me leave you with a challenge. I challenge you to do more. I challenge you to take stock of what resources you have and what you are doing with them. I challenge you to hold on to your precious liberty while you still can.

In liberty,

Ann

Ann Zerkle
Concerned Citizen
Founder of HeroesofCapitalism.com

Monday, July 13, 2009

George Nissen

Like Kerry last week, I also looked at summer fun to find inspiration for today's Hero of Capitalism. I had to look no farther than my neighbor's backyard to find our hero; today, we honor George Nissen for his contribution to modern trampolines.

Nissen first developed the idea for the trampoline in 1934. While visiting a circus, he saw trapeze artists use their safety net as a type of elastic board on which to perform tricks. Nissen was a gymnast and saw the trapeze artists altered net as a way to train for tumbling.

Along with the help of his coach, Larry Griswold, Nissen experimented to develop a similar elastic board. The two men began to use their new invention to help in training with tumblers and in entertaining children at the gymnastic camps they hosted.

Nissen and Griswold began to make trampolines commercially in 1942 when they founded Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company. The trampoline began to be used to help in training with the military's pilots and navigators as well as the space program's astronauts. New games like Slamball, a game similar to basketball, and Bossaball, a game similar to volleyball became popular competitive sports.

Not only did Nissen invent the modern trampoline, but he also holds over 40 patents for the other contributions he has made to the sport and fitness world. With the success of the trampoline, Nissen and his partner continued to expand their business and began producing other gymnastic equipment. The men sold the business in the 1980s, but the work Nissen did continues today. Not only is the trampoline successful as training equipment or a fun backyard activity, but the sport of trampolining became an Olympic event in 2000.

Today we honor Nissen for recognizing a potential sport and new way of training while attending the circus, for developing that idea into a new product, and for successfully marketing that product to consumers. Not only did Nissen find a new way to train in gymnastics for himself, but he helped to transform ideas about tumbling and opened up new possibilities for aviation training, sports training, and recreation.

Sources:
Wikipedia: Trampoline
Wikipedia: George Nissen
MIT Inventor of the week: George Nissen

Friday, July 10, 2009

Clayton Jacobson II

With the holiday weekend just behind us, I looked to summer fun for inspiration for today’s hero. Clayton Jacobson is credited as the inventor of the personal watercraft – best known as the JetSki. Jacobson’s inspiration came from his time as a dirt bike rider. He took his love for that activity and tried to figure out a way to transfer it to the water. His original idea worked well enough that Jacobson quit his job as a banker to pursue improvements to the design on a full-time basis. By 1968, Jacobson had a deal with the Bombardier Corporation to manufacture a version of his invention that became known as the Sea-Doo.

The Sea-Doo met with limited success and Jacobson eventually moved on to work with Kawasaki on a new version of the person watercraft. Improvements were made and the Jet Ski found its niche. Kawasaki went on to sell over a billion dollars worth of Jet Skis over the next two decades, but a dispute over ownership of the patents led to a split between Jacobson and the corporation and an eventual lawsuit in which Jacobson received a significant financial settlement, acknowledging his part in the evolution of the concept.

So for his contributions to summer fun and to the creation of a tremendous amount of wealth along the way, Clayton Jacobson is a Hero of Capitalism.

More on Clayton Jacobson

Don't try this at home....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Peter Schiff


Today we celebrate Peter Schiff, renowned author, economist, and CEO of brokerage firm Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. (EPC).

After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in finance and accounting, Schiff acquired a position at the brokerage firm Shearson Lehman Brothers. Less than a decade later, in 1996, he purchased his own brokerage firm, EPC – originally a Florida-based firm, Schiff purchased and reincorporated in California.

Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. operates in accordance with Schiff’s economic views. Schiff is well versed in Austrian Business Cycle theory and applies this logic to many of the investment recommendations provided by EPC.

Schiff began making a name for himself in the public eye in 2006 when he made claim that the U.S. economy was headed for disaster, stating: “the U.S. economy is like the Titanic and I am here with a lifeboat trying to get people to leave the ship… … I see a real financial crisis coming for the United States.” He went further to predict a crash in the U.S. housing market that same year. His ideas on the financial crisis and investment strategies to cope can be found in his book, Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse (first ed. Feb 2007, 2nd ed. , titled Crash Proof 2.0, Sept. 2009). While many commentators debated Schiff’s claims (some outright laughing at his suggestions), few can now disagree that Peter Schiff was right in his assertions.

Today Schiff continues to spread his ideas via tv appearances and his daily blog. Schiff is currently considering a challenge in the political arena, an endeavor which will put him against current Connecticut senator Christopher Dodd in the next election. Schiff most recently served as Ron Paul’s economic advisor during Paul’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

We honor Peter Schiff as a Hero of Capitalism for his commitment to liberty and freedom, and for his entrepreneurial contributions – EPC and Crash Proof – which work well to promote his ideas.

Sources:

Peter Schiff at Wikipedia

EuroPac.net (Euro Pacific website)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fusajiro Yamauchi and Hiroshi Yamauchi

Today we honor Fusajiro Yamauchi for founding Nintendo and Hiroshi Yamachi (Fusajiro's grandson) for making Nintendo an international brand. A native of Kyoto, Japan, F. Yamauchi started Nintendo playing cards in 1889. The handmade cards were so popular that the elder Yamauchi had to keep adding more and more employees and open another shop in Osaka.

However, it was Fusajiro's grandson, Hiroshi, that really made Nintendo the international force that it is today.
It was Hiroshi that realized
that the playing card market was limited and began to invest in other avenues. Hiroshi was the president of Nintendo from 1956 to 1975. Under his leadership,
Nintendo started to move into electronics, like this picture to the left.

Today Nintendo is a force in the market. Last year it had $16 Billion in sales and is considered by many to be the leader in electronic gaming. So, today we honor Fusajiro and Hiroshi Yamauchi for taking their private property and making Nintendo into the economic powerhouse it is today. I didn't have time to aggregate all the monetary wealth Nintendo has contributed, but I know Nintendo has brought me and millions of others great joy!

Sources:

One of my favorite Nintendo-inspired Clips:

Friday, July 3, 2009

George M. Cohan


Known as the father of American musical comedy and as "the man who owned Broadway", today we honor the great American entertainer, songwriter, actor, dancer, singer, composer, and producer George M. Cohan.

Cohan was born on July 3 1878, though his family claimed that he was "Born on the Fourth of July!".

Throughout his lifetime, Cohan published over 1500 original songs, produced over three dozen Broadway shows, and also invented the "book musical", helping to close the gap between drama and musicals. Cohan was an actor on Broadway, a producer of multiple shows, was a composer, and also a star in film. A commanding presence, Cohan changed the landscape of American theater.

Today, I would like to highlight the contribution Cohan has made to the American community's patriotic songs. Cohan famously wrote "The Yankee Doodle Boy" in his first Broadway hit show Little Johnny Jones. Too old to join in the war effort of World War I, Cohan focused again on writing patriotic songs to help moral, composing "Over There" as well as "You're A Grand Old Flag". The movie Yankee Doodle Dandy is a biographical film about his life.

In 1936, President Roosevelt honored Cohan by presenting him with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his contributions to WWI moral.

Cohan made great contributions to the entertainment world, creating wealth not only for himself but also for the people around him. Today we honor Cohan for being a good business man, a great entertainer, and for the work he proudly did to honor his neighbors through song.

Sources:
Wikipedia: George M. Cohan
Musicals101.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby


Today we celebrate Burt Shavitz – a beekeeper – and Roxanne Quimby – a candle maker – for their business creation, Burt’s Bees.

The story goes that Burt was a bit of a recluse, living in an old turkey coop and selling honey from a pickup truck. He first met Roxanne while she was hitchhiking along a highway in Maine in 1984. He stopped to pick her up and the two bonded immediately.

The two combined talents and began making beeswax candles to sell at craft fairs throughout New England. In 1988 Burt and Roxanne decided to expand production, as larger orders of their candles were beginning to sell – most notably to a New York boutique which ordered hundreds at a time. Around that time, according to the company website, Roxanne stumbled upon a 19th century book of homemade personal care recipes. And the rest is history.

In 1991, Burt’s Bees incorporated embarked on a campaign to bring several new products to market – including the beeswax lip balm, which is still their best-selling product – and expand their production facility. They relocated to North Carolina where the company resides today.

In 1999, Quimby bought Shavitz’s stake in the company for an estimated $4 million. In 2003, Quimby sold 80% of the company to AEA investors for roughly $146 million. In 2007, she sold the remaining portion to Clorox when they reportedly bought the entire company for $925 million.

Today Shavitz’s face is somewhat a familiar one – his is the bearded man pictured on each of the Burt’s Bees products. Burt’s Bees is available in nearly every big box department store and grocery chain – Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, etc. We celebrate Shavitz and Quimby as today’s Heroes of Capitalism for their outstanding rags-to-riches success.

Sources:
BurtsBees.com
LA Times
Wikipedia