Richard B. Cohen

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Richard B. Cohen
Born1952 (age 67–68)
NationalityUnited States
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BS)
Known forOwner of C&S Wholesale Grocers
Net worthIncrease $11.0 billion USD (June 2018)[1]
TitleChairman and CEO of Symbotic
Spouse(s)Jan Cohen; 3 children
Parent(s)Lester Cohen (father)

Richard B. "Rick" Cohen (born 1952) is an American billionaire and the sole owner of C&S Wholesale Grocers, the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the United States.


Cohen was born to a Jewish family.[2] In 1918, Cohen's grandfather, Israel Cohen, co-founded the food distributor, C&S Wholesalers in Worcester, Massachusetts.[1][3] Israel's son, Lester, a bomber navigator during World War II, expanded the business into supplying military bases.[3] In 1970, Richard Cohen graduated from the Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts and then in 1974, he graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree economics, concentrating in accounting, and joined the family company. After a painful union strike, he persuaded his father to move the company to Brattleboro, Vermont.[3]

In 1989, Cohen took control of C&S after his father retired. In 2003, he moved the company headquarters to Keene, New Hampshire.[3] As the food distribution business is very low margin and customer retention is critical,[3] Cohen has grown the company by focusing on efficiencies and customer support.[1] C&S has been able to attain excellent efficiencies - less than 2 percent of the orders processed have errors or omissions - by using generous performance incentives combined with self-managed teams of workers who are responsible for assembling customer orders thereby eliminating costly supervisors.[3] If a customer is having trouble, rather than letting them go bankrupt (and losing them as a customer), Cohen will often purchase them outright, restructure their operations, and then sell them later for a profit.[4] Since 2008, Cohen has been a director at the Food Marketing Institute and is a director of Food Distribution Institute.[1]

Cohen is also founder of Symbotic, which produces an automated storage and retrieval system for dry goods. The system is used by C&S and other large retailers.[5]


The Holocaust studies center at Keene State College was renamed after the Cohens in thanks of their financial support.[1] In 2002, Cohen was a national finalist for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Assumption College. He serves on the Board of Trustees at the Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Cohen is married to Jan Cohen, executive producer of the Kaddish Project, a touring musical on genocide; the couple have two daughters and one son.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f The Daily Mail: "Revealed, America's most modest billionaire: Tycoon worth $11bn is so down-to-earth that neighbors don't recognize him - on street where average home is $294,000" By Helen Pow August 5, 2013
  2. ^ The Tablet Magazine: "The Jewish Billionaire No One's Heard Of" by Adam Chandler, August 5, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Bloomberg: "Hidden Billionaire Cohen Hauls Fortune in Unmarked Trucks" by Brendan Coffey & Zohair Siraj, August 5, 2013; accessed May 3, 2014.
  4. ^ Coffey, Brendan and Siraj, Zohair. "Hidden Billionaire Cohen Hauls Fortune in Unmarked Trucks", Bloomberg, 5 August 2013. Accessed 23 May 2016.
  5. ^ Robbie Whelan (20 September 2016). "Fully Autonomous Robots: The Warehouse Workers of the Near Future". The Wall Street Journal.