Frank C. Mars opens its earliest incarnation, a homemade candy shop that operated out of a his Washington home, in 1911. After consumers went crazy for the Milky Way bar, launched in 1923, Mars hired a full-time staff.
Now, the company has grown to have more 65,000 employees worldwide. It remains a private company, and its Board of Directors is made up of Mars family members.
9. Bechtel Group
Image: Bechtel Group
Owned by: Bechtel Family
Headquarters: San Francisco, Calif.
Annual Revenues: $30.8 billion
Engineering and construction giant Bechtel Corporation helped build the Hoover Dam, asserting itself as a high-powered contractor. But in the past 20 years or so, the company has faced criticism over ethical concerns about its project choices.
Riley Bechtel, the great-grandson of founder Warren Bechtel, now leads the company as CEO. His father, Stephen Bechtel, Jr., preceded him.
8. HCA Holdings
Image: AP Images
Owned by: Frist family
Headquarters: Nashville, Tenn.
Annual Revenues: $31.5 billion
Started in the 1960s by Dr. Thomas Frist and his son, Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr., helped form a hospital management company. Since then, the company has seen a meteoric rise.
When it sought to go public earlier this year, it was touted as one of the biggest public offerings in a long time. Two Frists sit on the board, including former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist (who was on track to become the GOP presidential nominee in 2008 until he made controversial claims about Terry Schiavo).
7. News Corp.
Image: By Alex E. Proimos on Flickr
Owned by: Murdoch Family
Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
Annual Revenues: $33.4 billion
Family patriarch Rupert Murdoch is still at the helm of the multinational media conglomerate, which he founded in 1979. Recently, though, the company has come under some serious fire amid a widely reported phone-hacking scandal in the UK.
At the center of the debacle is Murdoch's son, James, who is on the News Corp. board and was previously thought to be his father's successor. But now, as he's been implicated in the scandal, the future of the Murdochs' empire isn't as clear as it once was.
Image: By Kevin Burkett on Flickr
Owned by: Roberts Family
Headquarters: Philadelphia, Penn.
Annual Revenues: $37.94 billion
Comcast's founding family still has heavy influence, as the son of its inaugural chairman took over his father's post. Both Ralph Roberts and his son, Brian, sit on the Comcast board, too.
While customers have blasted Comcast for sub-par customer service and for plucking prominent figures' relatives for employees to sustain its influence in certain markets, the Robertses have focused on acquiring media entities to build on the colossal conglomerate.
5. Carlson Companies
Image: By Doug Wallick on Flickr
Owned by: Carlson Family
Headquarters: Minnetonka, Minn.
Annual Revenues: $38 billion
This multipurpose company started out in the 1930s with an idea to use stamps to drive customer loyalty. Since the wild success of that branding ploy, Carlson has extended its reach into the travel industry, where it now focuses the bulk of its efforts.
Former CEO Marilyn Carlson-Nelson chairs the Board of Directors.
4. Koch Industries
Owned by: Koch Family
Headquarters: Wichita, Kan.
Annual Revenues: $100 billion
The Kochs built a business in the early 1940s based on a new method to convert oil into gasoline. Since then, Koch has grown into a energy conglomerate with 50,000 employees.
The company has faced criticism for its environmental practices and its substantial financial support of Republican political candidates. Charles and David Koch lead the company today.
The Cargill Building on the U-M campus.
Image: University of Minnesota
Owned by: Cargill/MacMillan families
Headquarters: Wayzata, Minn.
Annual Revenues: $107.88 billion
This ag industry super-giant was born as a grain storage facility in 1865. Since then, Cargill has fashioned itself the preeminent business in agriculture, amassing enough revenue to make it the largest privately held company in the nation.
Over the years, Cargill has caught flack for distributing contaminated food and deforestation. Its current CEO, Gregory Page, is the first in company history to not be from the Cargill or MacMillan families.
2. Ford Motor Co.
Image: By toprankonlinemarketing on Flickr
Owned by: Ford Family
Headquarters: Dearborn, Mich.
Annual Revenues: $128.95 billion
A tough economy nearly wrecked the auto industry, among others, but through that -- and the entire evolution of the automobile, really -- the Ford family has retained control of a company rife with Americana.
Three Fords sit on the board today, and William Clay Ford, Jr., has taken over for his forefathers as executive chairman.
Image: By mjb84 on flickr
Owned by: Walton family
Headquarters: Bentonville, Ark.
Annual Revenues: $421.85 billion
America has a love-hate relationship with Wal-Mart, but the company continues to grow after its inception in 1962, which coincided with the birth of discount retail as we know it today. It's faced concerns over its non-union workforce and questionable ethics, though the company has become as ubiquitous as any other retailer.
Founder Sam Walton's son, Rob, steers the company as chairman of the Board of Directors.
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