Friess in March 2013.
April 2, 1940
Rice Lake, Wisconsin
|Known for||Political Philanthropist|
Foster Stephen Friess (born April 2, 1940) is an American businessman and supporter of conservative Christian causes. In a 2001 article, BusinessWeek suggested Friess "may be the longest-surviving successful growth-stock picker, having navigated markets for 36 years, in his own firm since 1974."
Friess was born in 1940 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, a small town with a current population of 8,000. As a high school student, Friess held a variety of leadership positions, including valedictorian, class president, and captain of the basketball, track, volleyball, football, cheerleading, golf, baseball, hockey, and checkers teams.
A first-generation college graduate, Friess attended the University of Wisconsin (now University of Wisconsin–Madison), where he earned a degree in business administration. As a student, he served as president of Chi Phi Fraternity, enrolled in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, and was named one of the "ten most outstanding senior men". In 1962 he married fellow student Lynnette Estes.
Friess identifies as a born-again evangelical Christian. Despite his professional success, he was unhappy due to a "marriage flirting with divorce and emotionally distant children"; in October 1978, Friess "did one of those 'born again' things". He often refers to God as the "Chairman of my board" and his personal website quotes Galatians 6:2 and Matthew 25:35–40. He attributes all of his subsequent success, both personal and professional, to his faith.
After graduating from college, Foster trained to be an infantry platoon leader and served as the intelligence officer for the First Guided Missile Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas. In 1964, he began his investment career, joining the Brittingham family-controlled NYSE member firm in Wilmington, Delaware, where he eventually rose to the position of Director of Research.
In 1974, Friess and his wife launched their own investment management firm, Friess Associates, LLC. Although success came slowly in its early years, the firm grew to over $15.7 billion in assets managed. Forbes named the Brandywine Fund, a Friess Associates flagship that boasted an average of 20% annual gains in the 1990s, as one of the decade's top performers.
In 2001, Friess Associates partnered with Affiliated Managers Group (AMG), an asset-management firm, to facilitate succession planning and to spread ownership among its partners. AMG acquired a majority interest in Friess Associates in October 2001 and held a 70% interest as of September 2011. A broad group of Friess partners, including senior management and researchers, held 20% equity ownership, while the Friess family retained 10%. The company was purchased by its employees in 2013.
Friess has been an active patron of religious and conservative causes. He was instrumental in keeping the political campaign of the 2012 presidential hopeful Rick Santorum alive by financing a super PAC, the Red, White and Blue Fund, which ran television advertisements on behalf of Santorum, who was unable to run a television campaign with his own funds. According to campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission, Friess's contributions to the Red, White and Blue Fund amount to more than 40% of its total assets – or, $331,000 as of 31 December 2011. He had donated $250,000 to Santorum's re-election campaign in 2006, and at least that amount to the Republican Governors' Association. In the wake of the New Hampshire Republican primary, 2012, and before the South Carolina primary, Friess told Politico that he was "putting together a challenge grant to encourage other wealthy donors to give to the Red, White and Blue Fund, ... he said [the fund] received a $1 million check" the day after the New Hampshire vote. The Million-dollar donation was conveyed in four checks between November, 2011 and January, 2012.
In addition to Santorum's faith, pro-life stance, and hawkish foreign policy leanings, the possibility of defeating incumbent President Barack Obama was a major component of Friess's decision to back Santorum's campaign. Friess reportedly considered major contributions to American Crossroads in hopes of influencing key 2012 senate races.
Friess also donated $100,000 to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to help defeat the Democrats' recall effort in 2011. In addition, he has reportedly donated more than $3 million to the conservative commentator Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller website. At one of the semi-annual, private seminars held by the Koch brothers in June 2011, Friess was recognized for his donation exceeding $1 million to the Kochs' political activities.
While being interviewed by Andrea Mitchell, regarding contraception, Friess said, "And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it's so – it's such – inexpensive, you know, back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly." The remark caused considerable embarrassment to Santorum's campaign. Santorum labeled it "a bad off-color joke." Following a loss in the Wisconsin primary, Santorum announced the suspension of his campaign on April 10, 2012.
Friess and his wife run the Friess Family Foundation, whose activities include supporting Christian mobile medical services, sponsoring Water Missions International's work to provide clean water in Malawi, and donating to relief and recovery efforts following natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Friess sponsored a matching grant program to raise $2 million for relief efforts for the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and traveled to the areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami in order to speak with local church and organization leaders to identify the best efforts to support. He sponsored another matching grant for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, raising more than $4 million.
He supported a YMCA development in Maryvale, Arizona, along with several local mentoring and ministry programs. He is the principal donor behind the Friess Family Community Campus, a $3.7 million complex equipped with football, baseball, softball fields, and a track at Rice Lake High School in his hometown.
Friess has won a number of awards for his religious work, including the Canterbury Medal from the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, the Adam Smith Award from Hillsdale College the Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award from the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Foundation the David R. Jones Award for Leadership in Philanthropy and a Medal of Distinction from the University of Delaware. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Pepperdine University, Regent University, and Goldey Beacom College.
- Robert Barker (2001-07-16). "Buy-and-Hold Isn't His Style". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- "Man Atop the Horse". FosterFriess.com. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
- "Friess Associates". Brandywinefunds.com. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- "Friess Associates : AMG Partnership". Brandywinefunds.com. n.d. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- Baert, Rick (2013-07-04). "Friess employees to buy back firm from AMG". Pensions & Investments. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
- Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, New York: The Penguin Press, 2012, p. 246
- "FEC Disclosure Form 3 for RED WHITE AND BLUE FUND". Federal Election Commission. 2011-12-31. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam (February 21, 2012). "Super PAC donors revealed: Who are the power players in the GOP primary?". Washington Post. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Isikoff, Michael, "Wealthy Wyoming investment fund manager bankrolling pro-Santorum Super PAC", NBC News, 4 January 2012.
- Kenneth P. Vogel, "3 billionaires who'll drag out the race", Politico, 2012-01-12, Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- Rutenberg, Jim; Confessore, Nicholas (9 February 2012). ""Benefactor Likes Santorum Odds" (limited no-charge access)". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
- Molly Redden, "Pac Man: An eccentric Republican billionaire contemplates his next move", The New Republic, 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- Gavin Aronsen, "The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club", Mother Jones, September 6, 2011.
- Eggen, Dan (February 17, 2012). "Foster Friess aspirin joke shows danger to candidates of outside political groups". Washington Post. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Rick Santorum Ending His Campaign, Sources Say
- Santorum To Suspend Campaign
- Carrying Others Burdens – Friess Family Foundation
- "Foster Friess". Nationalchristian.com. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- Debons, Amanda (2008-04-07). "Opening of Maryvale YMCA celebrated". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- "Board of Education – Buildings and Grounds Committee". Ricelake.k12.wi.us. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation :: ATLAS FREEDOM DINNER 2004[dead link]
- Foster S. Friess (2002-05-11). "What Kind of Society is Good for Business and Investing?". Hillsdale.edu. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership | HOBY[dead link]
- The Fund for American Studies – Alumni
- Medals of Distinction / UDconnection
- National Christian Foundation Profile: Foster Friess
- Foster Friess' introduction to the film Obsession on YouTube
- Don't Fence Him In: Foster Friess explains his individualistic approach to managing the Brandywine fund. CNN Money, July 1, 2001
- Spot growth stocks – but at the right price MSN Money, accessed May 27, 2008