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No. 13 , Sol Price



Estimated worth: $450 million

Sol Price, the retail industry innovator who created the concept of big-box warehouse stores first in Federated Stores and later in the Price Club, sold the latter to Costco for about $2 billion in 1993.

Both Price, 89, and his son, Robert, cashed out handsomely from that venture. They retain majority ownership in the international subsidiary called PriceSmart, Inc., which has struggled for most of the last few years but still generated annual sales of more than $600 million for the most current fiscal year and had a recent market cap of about $200 million.

The Prices also retained the property below all its stores and converted that into a real estate investment trust called Price Legacy, which sold last year for about $1.2 billion.

In the mid-1990s, Price set up a foundation, Price Charities, which funneled money into a variety of nonprofit organizations, including the San Diego Revitalization Corp., an entity that invested about $100 million into revitalizing City Heights, one of the most downtrodden areas in San Diego. Combined with city, state and federal government funding exceeding some $150 million, City Heights has become a model revitalization project that is emulated around the nation.

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Matt Hervey, director of the San Diego Revitalization Corp., said Price had been exploring a for-profit venture in City Heights in the early 1990s when he came face to face with all its problems and decided to take on the challenge of turning things around in the area near East San Diego.

“Sol has probably the most integrity of anyone who I ever worked with,” said Ray Peet, a retired Navy vice admiral who was a director, and chairman of Price REIT for several years. “He’s just an outstanding individual who has done so much for San Diego. People don’t know half of (the) things that he’s done for his community.”

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