What is the most successful, *non-Tech* company founded in America since 1980?

By “success”, assume the obvious metrics - revenues, profits, market cap. Given the answer can be proved by numbers, that’s why I put this in GQ… but if it’s moved, no big deal.

“Non-Tech” is a bit harder. Like pornography, I’ll know it when I see it.

Cannot be a company which was the result of merger and acquisitions activity, spin offs, etc. (OTOH, if the founder gets laid off from a job, says “I can do better than that”, and builds a $3 billion empire from scratch, that counts. But if the founder got the company via a spinoff of an already extant operation… no.)


While I’m sure it’s not the most successful, let me kick off the brainstorming with


…from Sept 1980.

Capital One was founded in 1988.

Healthcare company Centene was founded in 1984.

Home Depot just misses with 1978 but depending on how you count technology Verison makes it with 1983.

Verizon was part of the Judge Green 1983 ATT divestiture agreement so is not eligible, sorry.

Centene is a good answer. Let me look at how they were founded…

Spun off from Signet Bank.

Boston Beer Company, founded in 1984 and now the four-largest beer company in America.

Chobani, founded in 2005 and now has the largest share of the Greek yogurt market (and possibly the biggest player in yogurt overall).

Is biotech part of what you consider tech? If not, there are many, such as Gilead Sciences, founded in 1987.

Costco, maybe… Depends on when you say it officially started.

I think it’s pretty murky how you’re defining " merger and acquisitions activity, spin offs, etc.".

I mean, Costco started in 1983, but they merged a little later with a competitor (Price Club) founded in 1976, but kept the Costco name. Would they count?

AutoNation, the big owner of dealerships, was founded in 1996.

Also, CarMax was founded in 1993.


The first one I thought of was Fed Ex, but it was incorporated in 1971.

Are online companies all ‘tech’ companies, even if they don’t make their own tech? If not, Alibaba wouod be a good example, if it were founded in the U.S. Any similar US companies? . Amazon before Kindle and AWS, when it was just a giant bookstore and distribution organization.

From this chart, how about #8 on the 2021 Fortune 500, AmerisourceBergen. Its a pharmaceutical distributor founded in 1985 with 2020 revenues of $189.9B.

If that one doesn’t count, I suspect the answer is somewhere on the linked interactive infographic.

Discovery, Inc. the owner of various cable channels, was founded in 1985.

By that one, I believe Express Scripts would be the winner. Costco if you trace their founding to the founding of Costco, not Price Club, the older firm they merged with.

I was going to mention FedEx but that’s from 1973.

I wonder too how many of the popular clothing brands or stores are recent? Banana Republic 1978, The Gap 1969, etc. Old Navy was launched by The Gap in 1994 so I assume that does not qualify?

Spirit Airlines was founded 1983 as Charter One.

Ben & Jerry’s was founded in 1978 and also just misses the cut.

Any major record labels started after 1980? TV? Hollywood studios? Does QVC count, founded in 1986? CNN was launched June 1, 1980 but was paid for by Ted Turner, who was already in the broadcast business.

Keurig Dr.Pepper, as the company is now known, has a complicated history. The Keurig part dates from 1993. The Dr, Pepper part is much older.

That’s a good question.

For the spirit of the question, I will answer “no” as, when penning the OP, I was thinking of “tech” being the traditional computer/networking/software companies and did not give a single thought to biotech fitting in my minds-eye definition.