Harbor Freight Tools
Eric Smidt is chief executive, owner and founder of Calabasas-based Harbor Freight Tools, a $4.5 billion national retailer of discount tools and equipment. Smidt founded the company as a 17-year-old in 1977 when he began transforming his father’s small phone sales business into a mail order tool business. Smidt has had 100 percent ownership of the company since 1999. Smidt and his wife, Susan, support education, medical research, the arts and other causes through the Smidt Foundation. They gave $50 million to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center earlier this year—the largest gift in the center’s history—to create the Smidt Heart Institute to advance vital research and innovative practices across the fields of cardiology and cardiovascular surgery. Smidt has an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion and is No. 21 on the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of Wealthiest Angelenos.