3 Moguls who Survived Bankruptcy

1. Henry Ford's Bumpy Road Henry Ford probably wouldn't be too judgmental about about his company's recent financial troubles. Particularly because he was no stranger to debt himself. When Ford first started the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, the young engineer was a little too obsessed with perfection. In two years, the plant produced just twenty cars. The poor output, combined with exorbitant costs, wasn't a recipe for success. By 1901, his enterprise had gone bankrupt. Not one to wallow in self-pity, Ford reorganized his talent under a new name, the Henry Ford Company, but soon left to start yet another group-the Ford Motor Company. And that's where he finally started to make the real money. Whatever happened to the Henry Ford Company? It did alright for itself. The group changed its name to the Cadillac Automobile Company.  

2. Hershey's Bitter-to-Sweet Success Milton Heshey knew he could make great candy, but running a great business was more daunting. Hershey, who didn't have a formal education, spent four years apprenticing in a Philadelphia candy shop before striking out on his own in 1876. Six years later, his business went under. This wasn't the last time Hershey would go broke. A subsequent attempt to peddle sweets in New York City met the same fate, and the penniless Hershey returned home to Lancaster, Penn. There, he started tinkering with the use of fresh milk in caramel production. And out of nowhere, sweet success! In 1900, Heshey sold his Lancaster Caramel Company for an eye-popping $1 million. But the restless entrepreneur wasn't done yet. He immediately began work on a new idea-manufacturing a Swiss luxury import known as "milk chocolate".

3. The Burt Reynolds Bachelor Pad

Back in the 1970s, Burt Reynolds owned mansions on both coasts, a helicopter, and a lavish ranch. But the next decade was harder on the Hollywood star. Thanks to a pricey divorce and some poor career choices, Reynolds ended up owing creditors almost $10 million. In 1996, he filed for Chapter 11. But instead of hawking his valuables and putting his trademark mustache up for auction, Reynolds found a loophole to protect his wealth. In states such as Florida and Texas, there's a homestead exemption that protects debtors from losing their primary residence. The problem was, Burt Reynolds' shelter happened to be a sprawling $2.5 million Florida mansion. The issue caused such a stink that when Congress passed measures tightening the loopholes in 2001, Reynolds was one of the examples Senators used to show that bankruptcy rules went too easy on the wealthy. _______________________ The above article was written by Ethan Trex. It is reprinted with permission from the Scatterbrained section of the May/June 2010 issue of mental_floss magazine. Be sure to visit mental_floss' entertaining website and blog for more fun stuff!

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