Billionaire Profile: Michael Krasny

Some successful people seem destined for greatness from the start; Others have a less glamorous road to the top. Billionaire Michael Krasny is decidedly the latter. In 1982, after having quit his job as a car salesman at his father’s Toyota dealership, Michael had found himself in quite a predicament. With no money to his name, he was forced to take out an ad in the Chicago Tribune to sell his personal computer. Michael was overwhelmed with the response to his ad, and was able to sell the computer for much more than he had originally anticipated.

Getting Started

Krasny believed he was on to something. The first IBM clone computers had just been released, and the majority of the world did not realize the potential of the personal computer. Krasny had the vision to realize that the home computer would soon become a worldwide phenomenon. Using the money from the sale of that single computer, he bought and sold several computers through classified ads. Working out of his kitchen, Krasny named his new company CDW. Ten years later, CDW had moved out of the kitchen and was ready to become publicly traded. In the following years, CDW became the largest direct electronics retailer in the world.

Krasney credits his success to his enthusiasm for the product. Being quoted on the CDW website as having said “It has been an evolution of passion — passion for technology.” In addition, Krasny is lauded for his creation of a “People First” corporate culture, believing that an emphasis on treating both his employees and customers as well as possible would pay dividends. After having amassed a personal fortune of over $1.2 billion, It’s difficult to disagree. In 2001, Krasny decided to relinquish control of the company and retire. He has since maintained a low profile and does not often give interviews.

What we can learn

If there is one thing that aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from the story of Michael Krasny, it is simply that a great idea can come from anywhere, at any time. Krasny’s vision was not hindered by the fact that he was in financial difficulty or had failed in the past. It’s because of this perseverance that in a matter of a decade, he went from a broke failed car salesmen, to one of the most successful businessmen in America.

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