At age 52, Ray Kroc was a traveling milkshake machine salesman. He stumbled upon a small drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California. After the owners, Richard and Maurice McDonald, bought eight of his machines, Kroc convinced them to open multiple franchises. A few years later, he bought the company from them, turning McDonald’s into an international powerhouse.
Jack Weil -- famed for inventing the snap shirt -- founded Rockmount Ranch Wear in Denver, Colorado when he was 45. The thriving company quickly became one of the biggest named in cowboy apparel. Weil served as CEO until he passed away at the age of 107 in 2008.
After working with a paving company whose impressive string of accomplishments included working on the Hoover Dam and building U.S. battleships during World War II, Henry Kaiser changed directions. At age 63, he founded Kaiser Permanente, a health care provider aimed at America’s working class.
College students everywhere owe an enormous debt to Momofuku Ando. The Japanese inventor founded Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. The company is best known for coming up with instant Ramen noodles in 1958. At the time, Momofuku Ando was already 58.
Known for revitalizing mass production through the use of the assembly line, Henry Ford became one of the wealthiest men in the world almost overnight. However, it wasn’t until the Ford Motor Company released the Model T in 1908 that the company really took off. Henry Ford was 45 when he made it big.
When Carol Gardner was 52, she was newly divorced, poor, and suffering from depression. Gardner’s attorney told her to either get a therapist or a dog, and a few months later she had a new bulldog named Zelda. She lightheartedly entered the dog into a Christmas photo contest, and after winning Gardner had an epiphany she decided to create a greeting card company, Zelda Wisdom, which she obviously named after her dog.
Although his family is known for their contributions to the world of engineering, Dave Duffield chose to move in a different direction. While at Cornell, Duffield discovered business administration and decided to move into the world of consulting. At the age of 46, he launched his own company, PeopleSoft. The company prospered for years until it was acquired by Oracle Corp. in 2005.
Although his drink started as an anesthetic for wounded Civil War soldiers, John Pemberton’s cola was forced to rebrand itself due to new laws. So, Pemberton took out the alcohol and added sugar in hopes of creating a refreshing beverage. At the age of 55, he built a company around the drink, calling it Coca-Cola. Now, you have to practically live under a rock to not know what Coke is.
Colonel Harland David Sanders
After getting fired from a series of odd jobs -- including railroad fireman and steamboat operator -- Colonel Harland David Sanders started a service station that became famous for its fried chicken recipe. At the age of 65, Colonel Sanders sold his company for $2 million dollars and Kentucky Fried Chicken has become more and more successful ever since.
While working as an accountant in San Antonio, Texas, Leo Goodwin started developing solutions for how to revamp the American insurance system. In 1936, Goodwin created the Government Employee’s Insurance Company, better known as Geico, in the nation’s capital. He was 50 years old.