Donald R. Horton
57, homebuilder, Fort Worth
The population of Texas is rapidly expanding—from just under 24 million today to perhaps 50 million in 2040, according to the state demographer—and someone has to put out the welcome mat for all our neighbors-to-be. It may very well be the founder and chairman of D.R. Horton, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders (first in units, third in revenues). Born in Arkansas, he studied to be a pharmacist before dropping out of the University of Oklahoma to get into the family real estate business. In 1977, he went to work for a builder of standardized homes in Fort Worth but chafed at his employer’s refusal to allow buyers to make changes to existing floor plans; within a year he quit to start his own business. Three decades later, publicly traded D.R. Horton has a market value of $4.4 billion. The company sells single-family homes priced from $90,000 to $900,000 and operates in 83 markets across 27 states. Horton’s own wallet has rapidly expanded as well: In 2005 Forbes put his net worth at $1.4 billion.