Bradley Wayne Hughes
Net Worth: $1 billion
Source of Wealth: Mini-warehouse storage space
Wall Street has been very good to Bradley Wayne Hughes, founder of Public Storage Inc., the country's largest mini-storage company.
As the company's earnings soar, so does the value of Hughes' shares. Public Storage stock was trading last year at about $17 a share, but in recent weeks it's been in the $30 range. That means the value of Hughes' 19 percent stake has nearly doubled, from $353 million to $623 million.
Two years ago, the company began its newest venture, a pick-up and delivery service in which large crates are delivered to homes, customers fill them up, and Public Storage ships them out to be stored.
"Right now they are still incurring losses, but in the long run it will prove to be an outstanding decision," said Paul Puryear, an analyst for Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersberg, Fla. "The stock has had a tremendous run and the future looks promising."
The company started out as "Private Storage" a marketing miscue, as it turned out, because people thought it was closed to the general public. Once the name was changed, customers started rolling in. And Hughes discovered that storage generated the same rent per square foot as garden apartments.
Hughes got the idea in the '70s when he drove past a similar operation in Texas. Public Storage now owns 67 million square feet of space in 1,067 mini-warehouses in 38 states and Canada.
Hughes lives in a 13,000-square-foot Malibu estate, where he and his wife Kathleen own a stable of 14 racehorses. His philanthropic activities include the formation of the Hughes Institute at the University of Minnesota, which researches childhood cancers.
Despite joining the billionaire's club this year, Hughes still drives his own car five days a week for the one-hour commute to Public Storage's offices in Glendale.
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