Forbes details how VanderSloot pulled himself out of poverty by living in a laundromat and teaching Dutch
IDAHO FALLS — Frank VanderSloot was named by Forbes as one of the 400 richest people in America last week but the Melaleuca CEO hasn’t always been wealthy.
He was raised in poverty on a farm, lived in a laundromat during college and launched a business selling beef jerky and peanuts to bars so he could afford to attend Brigham Young University.
In a profile released Saturday, Forbes details VanderSloot’s rags-to-riches story and how he went on to become the richest person in Idaho with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Long before Frank VanderSloot was one of America’s largest landowners, he was a poor boy growing up on his family’s 80-acre farm in Colocalla, Idaho, a tiny town about 70 miles from the Canadian border. His father, a railroad laborer who dropped out of school in the third grade, departed for work every Monday morning and didn’t return until Friday night. The family was left to maintain the farm.
At age 12 VanderSloot found himself in charge of the daily responsibilities, including milking the cows; feeding the horses, sheep, goats and chickens; plus chopping wood for his mother’s cook stove and the stove that heated their home. That’s when his father, who felt that a lack of education had held him back in life, had a heart-to-heart with his young son.
“He sat me down and told me he wanted a better life for me and therefore it was important for me to go to college,” VanderSloot says. “He explained that he would not have the money to send me, so I needed to start saving.”
VanderSloot heeded his father’s advice. He manned the farm’s cream separator twice a day, turning it by hand to separate cream from milk. His dad let him sell the excess cream not used by the family, netting him $2.50 per week. He took jobs on neighboring farms too, building fences, putting up hay and operating tractors. From the beginning, he put the profits straight into a college savings account.
By the time VanderSloot graduated from high school, he had scraped together enough money to cover five semesters of tuition at Brigham Young University. “But I had not saved anything for books or for board and room,” he says. “I planned on figuring that out when I got there.”