William F. Farley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

William F. Farley (born October 10, 1942) is the sole owner of Farley Industries, a private equity firm based in Chicago. For 15 years (1985–99), he was chairman and CEO of Fruit of the Loom until he was ousted by the board of directors on August 30, 1999. Currently, he is the Founder, CEO and majority owner of Zrii, a multilevel marketing company based in Salt Lake City.


Early life and education[edit]

Farley was born the elder of two children to a working-class Irish Catholic family on October 10, 1942 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.[1] He was the son of John Farley, a postal worker and part-time musician, and Barbara Farley, a receptionist.[2]

Farley attended grade school at St. Leo's School in Pawtucket, and later became a recruited high school athlete and student at St. Raphael Academy,[2] his father's high school. He graduated from St. Raphael's in 1960.[3]

Farley attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, from 1960–64, where he majored in government and earned an academic scholarship. At Bowdoin, he was a varsity athlete in football, swimming, and baseball.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Early years[edit]

After graduating from Bowdoin in 1964, Farley traveled across the U.S. and Mexico for six months, eventually settling in Los Angeles.[1] In Los Angeles, Farley sold Collier's Encyclopedia door to door.[2] Within two years he was the company's leading salesman, and was appointed head of training for the national sales force.[5]

NL Industries and Lehman Brothers[edit]

After attending Boston College Law School, Farley moved to New York City, where he took a job in the mergers and acquisitions division of NL Industries, a manufacturing company with a number of subsidiaries. At NL Industries, Farley did analysis on potential acquisition targets, and rose to director of long range planning and acquisitions. In 1972, Farley was transferred to Chicago, where he functioned as the regional manager of NL Industries' metals division.[4]

Farley Industries[edit]

In 1976, while Farley was working at Lehman Brothers, NL Industries was searching for a potential buyer for Anaheim Citrus Products Co., a small subsidiary that produced pectin, a thickening agent used in foods and other products. In October 1976, aged 34, he executed his first leveraged buyout for $1.9 million. To facilitate the buyout, Farley founded Farley Industries, a private holdings company in the Sears Tower in Chicago.[6] After six months, Farley had raised the funds for the buyout, including his life savings of $25,000, plus $1.7 million in loans and notes borrowed against the company assets.[7]

Within two years after the buyout, Farley had doubled Anaheim Citrus sales. In 1977, Farley purchased Baumfolder Corporation, a struggling manufacturing company, using funds from equipment sales at Anaheim Citrus. Farley quit Lehman Brothers and moved to Ohio to oversee the Baumfolder turnaround.[1][2] He later sold Baumfolder to its employees for $10 million.[8]

In 1982, Farley purchased NL Metals, the same group he used to run at NL. The purchase price was $118 million, making NL Metals the first in a line of significantly larger acquisitions that Farley would make over the next decade.[5]

Farley Industries soon encompassed numerous companies within the manufacturing, mining, and apparel industries. The largest acquisition was Northwest Industries, for $1.4 billion in July 1985.[8] Farley Industries had 50,000 employees and nearly $4 billion in annual sales by the late 1980s.

West Point Pepperell[edit]

In 1988, Farley completed a hostile takeover of West Point Pepperell, Inc., a textile company that had been family-owned in West Point, Georgia, and surrounding communities for more than 100 years. Farley paid $1.5 billion for the company, eclipsing the mark of $1.4 billion he had paid a year prior for Northwest Industries. Farley financed his purchase of 95.3 percent of the company through bank debt and high-yield bonds. [9] Less than four years later, the company filed for bankruptcy, and Farley resigned. [10]

Fruit of the Loom[edit]

Though Farley eventually sold most businesses within the Farley/Northwest Holding Corp. conglomerate, he kept Fruit of the Loom Inc.[11][12]

In March 1987, Farley completed a successful $565 million public offering of Fruit of the Loom shares.[13]

Farley served as president and CEO of Fruit of the Loom from 1985-99, when he was ousted by the board of directors due to the company's increasing financial difficulties.[14]

Zrii, LLC[edit]

In May 2007, Farley launched a brand-new multi-level marketing health and beauty company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Zrii, a Sanskrit word which means "light, luster, splendor, and prosperity", was endorsed by lifestyle guru Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. The basis of its namesake product was a juice extracted from the amalaki fruit, which is grown exclusively in India at the base of the Himalayas.[15]

In February 2009, 35 employees staged a walkout of Zrii headquarters and demanded that Farley resign.[citation needed]. In December 2009, Farley won $400,000 in a settlement agreement with LifeVantage Corporation, where many of his former employees were hired.[16]

Management style[edit]

Farley spent over $3 million a year on programs at his subsidiaries that encouraged physical fitness, good nutrition, and smoking cessation.[4] He traveled to work sites and solicited employees' opinions about the quality of their food and facilities, making improvements as suggested by employees.[17]

Farley installed baseball fields, tracks, and other fitness facilities at plants and factories.[1] He occasionally held meetings with managers late at night if there was no available time during the day.[8] He reportedly preferred to keep his companies small and efficiently organized, with a high level of interaction and access between top-level executives and low-level workers.[18]

Philanthropic activity[edit]

A firm believer in education, Farley has contributed millions of dollars to his alma maters. His largest single contribution was a $3.5 million gift to Bowdoin College in 1984,[2] which resulted in Farley Field House, an indoor athletic facility with a track, indoor tennis courts, and spectator areas.[19][20] He also founded scholarship programs for students at Boston College Law School,[18] and made a $1.5 million donation to endow the William F. Farley Chair at the law school. In May 1996, Farley made a $1 million donation to his high school, St. Raphael Academy, which went toward science and computer resources, tuition assistance, and the athletic department.[21] In 1998 and in honor of Farley's contributions to the school, the West Annex Building at St. Raphael was renamed Barbara Farley Hall, in honor of Farley's mother.[3]

Farley has made numerous contributions over the years to the American Heart Association, and he's been a donor to and board member of various civic and cultural organizations in his adopted hometown of Chicago, Illinois (including the Goodman Theatre, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations).[5][19] He has also sat on the board of directors for the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.[13]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1984: Farley is recognized as Outstanding Business Graduate of the Year by the Boston College Law School Alumni Association.[13]
  • 1986: Farley receives the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans award. The award is given to "community leaders who demonstrate individual initiative and a commitment to excellence, as exemplified by remarkable achievements accomplished through honesty, hard work, self-reliance and perseverance over adversity."[22]
  • 1988: Farley is inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame;[23] he is also honored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America as a Business/Community Honoree of the Year.
  • 1997: Honored by the Ireland-U.S. Council for Commerce and Industry for outstanding achievement for his work in economics, business, and commercial activity.[13] He also receives the White House's Presidential Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence.[24]
  • 2008: Farley is honored with a Freedom Award from America's Freedom Festival at Provo at Provo.[25]

Personal life[edit]

In the 1980s, Farley became a minority owner of the Chicago White Sox.[4]

Farley was an active member in the Young Presidents Organization; he is currently a member of the World Presidents Organization. He has also been a member of the Chicago Club and the University Associates of Northwestern University for years.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d Labich, Kenneth (May 27, 1985). "Bill Farley Has A Dream Machine" Fortune
  2. ^ a b c d e Chiappinelli, Bob (July 13, 1986). "Pawtucket's Horatio Alger" Providence Sunday Journal
  3. ^ a b Klein, Amy (May 11, 1998). "School's benefactor renames building for his mother", The Providence Journal-Bulletin.
  4. ^ a b c d Sheridan, Mike (April 1986). "Profile: William F. Farley." Echelon Magazine.
  5. ^ a b c "Bill Farley Casts a Wide Net for Companies." Financial Enterprise Summer 1983
  6. ^ Herguth, Bob (January 3, 1989). "Chicago Profile: William F. Farley" Chicago Sun-Times
  7. ^ Sheridan, Mike (April 1986). "Profile: William F. Farley." Echelon magazine
  8. ^ a b c C.S. (January 26, 1987). "The Buyout Man" U.S. News & World Report
  9. ^ "A Major Deal Maker of the '80s Is Drowning in Debt in the '90s". Los Angeles Times. 1990-05-13.
  10. ^ "West Point Pepperell buyer steps down as its chairman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2002-10-24.
  11. ^ "Fruit Of Loom Back As Farley Makes Changes". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  12. ^ "Bill Farley: The Hands-On Conglomerator" Industry Week June 15, 1987.
  13. ^ a b c d e Delaney, Patricia (1997). "Farley Chair in Legal Studies Endowed" Boston College Chronicle
  14. ^ "Taking the Starch Out Of an American Icon". Mobile.nytimes.com. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  15. ^ Harvey, Tom (May 23, 2008). "Draper Company Launches Zrii; Says It's A Healthful Juice" The Salt Lake Tribune
  16. ^ Harvey, Tom (December 23, 2009). "Supplement Company Zrii Settles Suits Against Rebellious Ex-Managers", The Salt Lake Tribune.
  17. ^ "Bill Farley: The Hands-On Conglomerator", Industry Week, June 15, 1987.
  18. ^ a b Brayton, Steve (January 27, 1985). "Kindness to Workers Farley's Key to Success", The Boston Herald.
  19. ^ a b "Farley Honored with Horatio Alger Award." Bowdoin Orient 1986.
  20. ^ "Bowdoin Athletics : William Farley Field House". Athletics.bowdoin.edu. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  21. ^ "Alumni Give Back to SRA" The Pawtucket Times 1997.
  22. ^ "About Us". Horatio Alger. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  23. ^ "Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame: Inductees from 1998". Riheritagehalloffame.org. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  24. ^ (43) Delaney, Patricia (1997). "Farley Chair in Legal Studies Endowed" Boston College Chronicle.
  25. ^ Davis, James (July 3, 2008). "Festival Salutes 4 Heroes", Deseret News.