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9 incredibly successful companies founded by military veterans

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  • Some of the world’s most recognized companies have founders who served overseas. 
  • The companies include retail giant Walmart, whose founder Sam Walton served as an Army captain.
  • Here are other successful businessmen with roots in the military.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It should be no surprise that skills learned in the military such as decision-making under pressure, organization, and leadership translate well to the corporate boardroom.

People like FedEx CEO Fred Smith or Walmart founder Sam Walton have become household names for their business success. Less known is their service prior to founding major companies.

After World War II, nearly 50% of veterans went the entrepreneurship route, though that number has substantially declined today. Still, there are currently around 2.5 million majority-veteran-owned businesses.

Here are nice companies started by military veterans.

Paul Szoldra wrote a previous version of this article.

Real-estate giant RE/MAX was cofounded by Air Force veteran Dave Liniger.


Prior to founding “Real Estate Maximums” — better known as RE/MAX— Dave Liniger served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

From 1965 to 1971, he served as an enlisted airman in Texas, Arizona, Vietnam, and Thailand, according to his LinkedIn.

“The military really gave me the chance to grow up. It was fun. I thought it was a fabulous place,” he told Airport Journals. “It also taught me self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.”

After he got out of the military, he started flipping houses for profit, and eventually got his real-estate license. He cofounded RE/MAX with his wife Gail in 1973.

Sperry Shoes was founded by Navy veteran Paul A. Sperry.


You can thank a former sailor in the US Naval Reserve for inventing the world’s first boat shoe.

In 1917, Sperry joined the Navy Reserve, though he didn’t stay very long. He was released from duty at the end of the year at the rank of Seaman First Class.

Still, his experience there and further adventures sailing led to the founding of his company, which eventually created the first non-slip boating shoe. He founded Sperry in 1935.

During World War II, the Navy purchased Sperry Top-Sider shoes by the boatload. Nearly a century later, they are still a favorite of sailors everywhere.

FedEx was founded by Marine Corps veteran Fred Smith.

F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Back before FedEx was the behemoth logistics company it is today, founder Fred Smith was observing how the military was getting things from point A to point B.

After graduating from Yale University, he was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer and served two tours in Vietnam. He earned a Bronze Star, Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts, according to US News.

Only two years after he left the Corps, he started Federal Express.

“Much of our success reflects what I learned as a Marine,” he wrote for “The basic principles of leading people are the bedrock of the Corps. I can still recite them from memory, and they are firmly embedded in the FedEx culture.”

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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SEE ALSO: This man built a cutting-edge stealth boat for the US Navy. Then the government tried to put him out of business.

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