John Richard or "J.R." Simplot was an American entrepreneur and businessman best known as the founder of the J. R. Simplot Company, a Soda Springs, Idaho based agricultural supplier specializing in potato products. In 2007, he was estimated to be the 89th-richest person in the United States, at $3.6 billion.
J.R. ‘Jack’ Simplot began his colorful career in 1923, near the small farming community of Declo, Idaho, when he quit school to go into business on his own. He was only 14 years old.
In this way, and throughout his business career, Jack blended the common sense lessons of his youth with a gambler’s intuition and a shrewd businessman’s judgment. In 1967, Simplot and McDonald's founder Ray Kroc agreed by handshake that the Simplot Company would provide frozen french fries to the restaurant chain. Simplot was able to supply frozen russet potatoes all year long. By the early years of World War II, the J.R. Simplot Company had become the largest shipper of fresh potatoes in the country, and was selling millions of pounds of dehydrated onions and potatoes to the military. Simplot also produces fertilizers for agriculture.
Simplot retired as president of his company in 1973, but remained as chairman until 1994. He held the title of Chairman Emeritus until his death in 2008. Simplot received an honorary degree from Utah State University in Logan in 2001, honoring him for his many contributions to the agricultural industry of America, particularly the Intermountain West.
In 1995, the J.R. Simplot Company expanded into Australia, acquiring iconic food brands like Birds Eye, Leggo's, Chiko, and Edgell.
Although Jack Simplot will remain forever fixed as the founder, leader and inspiration of the Company that bears his name, he would be the first to point out that scores of dedicated employees contributed mightily – and still do – to the success of the organization.
Learn more about J. R. Simplot company here.