Steven M. Rales

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Steven M. Rales
Steven Rales.jpg
Born 1951 (age 66–67)
Nationality United States
Alma mater B.A. DePauw University
J.D. American University
Occupation Businessman
Film producer
Known for co-founder of Danaher Corporation
Net worth Decrease US$ 3.8 billion (July 2014)[1]
Spouse(s) Christine Plank (divorced)
Lalage Damerell
Children 3 (with Plank)[1]
Parent(s) Ruth Rales
Norman Rales
Family Mitchell Rales (brother)

Steven M. Rales (born 1951) is an American businessman, film producer and chairman of Danaher Corporation. He is listed as the 118th richest person in America, with a value of $3.2 billion.[2] In 2016, Forbes estimated his net worth at $4.6 billion.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Raised in a Jewish family,[4] Rales is one of four sons of Norman and Ruth Rales. His father was raised in an orphanage, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City and later became a businessman who sold his building supply company in Washington, D.C. to his employees in what was the first employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transaction in the U.S.[5] His father was also a philanthropist founding the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service. Steven Rales has three brothers: Joshua, Mitchell, and Stewart.[6][7]

Rales graduated in 1969 from Walt Whitman High School, in Bethesda, Maryland.[8] In 1973, he graduated from DePauw University, where he was in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. In 1978, he was awarded a J.D. from the American University.


In 1979, he left his father's real estate firm to found Equity Group Holdings, with his brother Mitchell Rales. Using junk bonds, they bought a diversified line of businesses: first Mastershield, a vinyl siding manufacturer, then Mohawk Rubber Company, then Diversified Mortgage Group. They changed the name to Diversified Mortgage Investors, in 1978, and then Danaher, in 1984.[9]

In 1985, they bought Easco Corporation, the then-largest independent aluminum extrusion manufacturer, and hand tool manufacturer which produced the Craftsman brand of sockets and wrenches for Sears.

In 1988, they made a hostile takeover bid for Interco (including Converse, and Ethan Allen).[10][11] When the company responded with a poison pill, they sued, and prevailed in court.[12] They later ended the bid after five months with a profit of $60 million.[13]

In the 1980s, the AM side of WGMS was sold off to Washington, D.C., venture capitalists Steven and Mitchell Rales, who converted the music station into the first frequency for WTEM, a sports-talk station, in 1992.

He has served as Chairman of the Board of Danaher since January, 1984.[14]

In 1995 Steven and Mitchell Rales founded Colfax Corporation, a Richmond, Virginia industrial pumps manufacturer. In May 2008, Steven engineered the initial public offering of the company.[15]

Indian Paintbrush[edit]

Rales owns the production company Indian Paintbrush,[16] which has funded The Darjeeling Limited (2007), and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).[17][18][19]

The company was also involved in Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012), Labor Day (2013), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015).[20]

Indian Paintbrush has a long term deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures.


He has been a major supporter of the Washington Ballet. In 2002, he was a major donor in the dedication of the Peeler Art Center at DePauw University.[21] He was a donor to GolfRocks.[22]

Personal life[edit]

In 1983, he married Christine Plank, a 1974 DePauw University alumna.[23][24] They have three children,[25] Alexander, Gregory, and Stephanie.[26][27] They divorced in 2003.[25] In 2012, he married Lalage Damerell.[28]


  1. ^ a b Forbes: The World's Billionaires - Steven Rales July 2014
  2. ^ "Steven M. Rales Profile". Forbes. Retrieved 20 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Forbes 400". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-10. 
  4. ^ Washington Jewish Week: "Five local Jews make Forbes richest list" Archived 2012-09-05 at the Wayback Machine. October 7, 2009
  5. ^ "Remembering Norman R. Rales 1923-2012". Jewish Family Service. March 15, 2012. 
  6. ^ Sun Sentinel: "Norman Rales, orphan to wealthy businessman and philanthropist, is dead at 88" By Lisa J. Huriash March 15, 2012
  7. ^ Jewish Family Service: "Ruth Rales, 81, Philanthropist by Tal Abbady April 1, 2004
  8. ^ Murphy, Carolyn and Lynn Stander (September 2005). "We Knew Them When". Bethesda Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. 
  9. ^ "Steven Rales". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-11. 
  10. ^ David A. Vise; Steve Coll (August 23, 1988). "The Rales Brothers Play for Big Stakes; Little-Known Area Family Builds an Industrial Empire". The Washington Post. 
  11. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Request on Interco". The New York Times. August 4, 1988. 
  12. ^ Patrick A. Gaughan (2002). Mergers, Acquisitions, and Corporate Restructurings. John Wiley and Sons. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-471-23729-7. 
  13. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Rales Brothers Sell Their Interco Stake". The New York Times. December 16, 1988. 
  14. ^ "Steven M. Rales". Forbes. 
  15. ^ Thomas Heath (July 7, 2008). "The Quiet Dynamism of the Brothers Rales". The Washington Post. 
  16. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (2007-09-07). "Money men with a yen for films". Variety. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  17. ^ Steven M. Rales,
  18. ^ Steven M. Rales,
  19. ^ Kim Eisler (December 11, 2007). "What's a DC Billionaire Doing Aboard The Darjeeling Limited?". Washingtonian. 
  20. ^ "Indian Paintbrush". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 9, 2014. 
  21. ^ Peeler Art Center Dedicated as Donor Remembers the Building's Namesake, Her Former Professor, DePauw University
  22. ^ Sponsors, GolfRocks
  23. ^ Washingtonian Magazine: "Best Places To Live" by Kimberly Palmer And Mollie Reilly May 2012
  24. ^ DePauw University: Peeler Art Center Dedicated as Donor Remembers the Building's Namesake, Her Former Professor October 11, 2002
  25. ^ a b Find A Case: CHRISTINE P. RALES, APPELLANT v. STEVEN M. RALES, APPELLEE September 28, 2006
  26. ^ The Ron Brown Scholar Program:Remembering Norman R. Rales - 2010 American Journey Award Recipient" March 13, 2012
  27. ^ Hartford Courant: In the Matter of Marilyn Plank July 11, 2007
  28. ^ "Steven Rales & Lalage Damerell". The Times. September 3, 2013. 

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