Resnick in 2017
|Born||Lynda Rae Harris
1944 (age 72–73)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
|Residence||Beverly Hills, California, U.S.|
|Net worth||US$ 3.9 billion (October 2017)|
Stewart Resnick (1973–present)
Lynda Rae Resnick (born 1944) is an American billionaire entrepreneur and businesswoman. Resnick is married to Stewart Resnick, who is her business partner. Through their holding company The Wonderful Company, they own the POM Wonderful and FIJI Water brands, the Teleflora floral wire service company, and other businesses.
Resnick was born Lynda Rae Harris in 1944 in Baltimore, Maryland, but raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father, Jack H. Harris, worked as a film distributor during the 1950s; he is known for producing The Blob, which later became a cult favorite. Her mother, Muriel (née Goodman), was an interior designer. Because of her father's occupation, Resnick, at the age of four, had a recurring role on The Horn & Hardart Children's Hour broadcast from WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. Resnick graduated from Harriton High School. After a brief stint at a local college, Resnick took a job at the in-house ad agency for Sunset House catalog. Resnick founded an advertising agency, Lynda Limited, at the age of 19.
Resnick, then Lynda Sinay, began doing occasional work for the antiwar movement during the Vietnam war era. Her friend, Daniel Ellsberg, asked to use her copy machine on nights and weekends in order to distribute top-secret military documents. Ellsberg gave these documents to The New York Times, which then published them. Dubbed the Pentagon Papers, they detailed aspects of the war hidden from the public and damaged the credibility of the Presidents involved. Resnick was designated an un-indicted co-conspirator for her role and pursued by prosecutors for two years. Legal actions were eventually dropped.
Career and companies
Lynda Resnick has been involved in many companies. The Wonderful Company, formerly Roll Global, is a holding company which the Resnicks use to facilitate their various business ventures. Notable brands controlled by the Resnicks include POM Wonderful, FIJI Water, Wonderful Citrus, Wonderful Orchards and Wonderful Pistachios. They also operate large industrial citrus and nut farms in California. The Resnicks met while he was president of American Protection Industries, Los Angeles, California, and she was pitching her ad agency to get his business.
The Resnicks purchased Teleflora in 1979, at which time Lynda left her advertising job to become the company's executive vice president of marketing and eventually president. She introduced "Flowers in a Gift" in 1982, a marketing idea that saw the flowers delivered in a keepsake container which won her a marketing communications Effie Award. Resnick became Teleflora's chairman in 1986. Still with Teleflora as of 2009, she has been involved with securing flagship TV sponsorship roles. A campaign associated with a Mother's Day special on NBC resulted in another Effie win. January 2009 saw her company's first Super Bowl advertisement, which was voted one of the best Super Bowl ads by several newspapers, blogs and online fan sites.
The Resnicks purchased The Franklin Mint in 1984; Lynda began directing the company's international marketing efforts, a position she held until 2000. She influenced a new business plan of providing products that delivered "emotional satisfaction", such as the high-end collectible doll business. According to the book "Encyclopedia of American Women in Business" the first run of a Scarlett O'Hara (Gone with the Wind)-inspired doll generated $35 million in sales. Also during her tenure, licensing was arranged for products related to the Louvre art museum in Paris, the Vatican, board games like Monopoly and Scrabble, classic cars, and famous people like John Wayne, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe. Franklin Mint began having some problems in 1997, when Tiger Woods sued the company after it produced a commemorative medal of his win in the 1997 Masters tournament. Franklin Mint paid Woods an undisclosed sum to settle the case. In May 1998, the estate of Princess Diana filed a lawsuit to keep Franklin Mint from profiting from the sale of commemorative merchandise. The Resnicks sold Franklin Mint in 2006.
According to her memoir, she acquired a pistachio orchard that also contained some Wonderful variety pomegranate trees in California's San Joaquin Valley. In 1996, intrigued by folklore, she began to sponsor medical research regarding the pomegranate's health effects. By 2000 there was research published with findings regarding effects of regular pomegranate consumption. Resnick designed the POM Wonderful logo, and her design team developed an hourglass-shape bottle, the company later expanding into other liquid products and pills.
The Resnicks acquired the FIJI Water business in 2004, after which Lynda supervised marketing that focused on promoting the uniqueness and exotic nature of the water. According to Resnick's book, sales of Fiji Water soon increased by 300% by 2008 becoming the largest imported bottled water brand in the US. In response to bad publicity regarding the FIJI brand and bottled water in general Resnick introduced a promotional campaign touting an environmental policy and plans for a reduced carbon footprint through a series of press releases. Fiji Water laid off 40% of its staff in December 2008 due to weakening sales.
Resnick is a "life trustee" of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Board of Trustees. She is a trustee emeritus of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In September 2008, she and her husband announced a $45 million gift to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for the construction of a new exhibition pavilion, as well as $10 million in artworks.
She is on the executive board of UCLA Medical Sciences; the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Milken Family Foundation. In 2005 a UCLA operated Neuropsychiatric Hospital was named for Resnick and her husband in honor of their involvement. They made a $4 million donation to Children's Hospital Central California in 2006.
She is on the board of trustees and chair of the marketing and communications committee at the Aspen Institute. In 2009 they announced the opening of a pre-school billed as one of the first in the US to be environmentally friendly. The same year they also announced plans to bring charter school, Paramount Bard Academy, to the Central Valley. At Caltech's 2009 graduation ceremonies, Caltech announced that the Resnicks had donated $20 million towards a "sustainability center" to be named after themselves.
Resnick has been married twice. Her first marriage to publisher Hershel Sinay ended in divorce in 1969. They had two children: Jason Sinay and Jonathan Sinay. Resnick second marriage is to Stewart Resnick, who is also her business partner. They live in Beverly Hills, and have a home in Aspen, Colorado.
In 2009, Resnick, with Francis Wilkinson, co-authored a book, Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in Your Business which details her life by explaining marketing and business ideas she used to build successful brands. In a U.S. News & World Report article Resnick explained that her book promotes a concept she labels transparency: "Transparency, is very new...you have to be a good citizen of the planet. You have to give back."
Lynda Resnick and her husband Stewart have been criticized for their role in growing water-intensive nut tree crops (a single almond requires more than one US gallon [3.8 l] of water) in the Central Valley, mainly for export, during California's ongoing drought. According to Forbes Magazine: "Their oasis has plenty of water, the result of relentless opportunism that has given their orchards access to more water than nearly any other farm during the worst drought on record in California’s history. The Resnicks use at least 120 billion gallons [450 million m3] a year, two-thirds on nuts, enough to supply San Francisco’s 852,000 residents for a decade. They own a majority stake in the Kern Water Bank, one of California’s largest underground water storage facilities, which they got fairly but sagely from the government 20 years ago. It is capable of storing 500 billion gallons [1.9 billion m3] of water. They have also spent at least $35 million in recent years buying up more water from nearby districts to replenish their supplies."
At the same time as exporting almonds to Asia and other locations, they import Fiji bottled water from the South Pacific. Again according to Forbes: "Regarding their water business in Fiji, they have been vilified as greedy capitalists for hogging the archipelago’s precious water supply. They bought Fiji Water in 2005 and started pumping out and bottling millions of pricey water bottles from a pristine aquifer. Meanwhile island natives didn’t always have water to drink themselves, due to crumbling and insufficient infrastructure."
In addition their claims for the POM pomegranate drink have been contested. Forbes: "The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in 2010 that the Resnicks’ POM Wonderful had used deceptive advertising when marketing the antioxidant-rich drink as being able to treat, prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. In 2012 a federal judge agreed that some of the ads were misleading. In 2013 FTC commissioners denied the Resnicks’ appeal. In October of this year the Resnicks asked the Supreme Court to take the case." In May 2016 the Supreme Court declined to take the case.
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- Mother Jones: It Takes How Much Water to Grow an Almond?! Feb. 24, 2014
- LA Times: California farms lead the way in almond production Jan. 12, 2014
- Forbes Magazine: America's Nuttiest Billionaire Couple: Amid Drought, Stewart And Lynda Resnick Are Richer Than Ever November 23, 2015
- "LA Times: Pom Wonderful case not wonderful enough, Supreme Court says" May 4, 2016