In 1983, he created the TLC Group, a venture capital firm known for corporate takeovers of struggling companies and then turning them around. Lewis’ biggest coup came on August 9, 1987 when he purchased the international division of Beatrice Foods. At $985 million, it was the largest leveraged buyout at the time.

Renaming it TLC Beatrice International, Lewis rapidly turned around the company as its chairman and CEO. In 1992, the company earned over $1.6 billion annually. Lewis worked between offices in New York and Paris.

Lewis was often portrayed as a man who didn’t acknowledge racial matters. In fact, he was quoted as saying that he didn’t involve himself in such discussions. However, the way white businessmen were treated versus those of color quietly motivated him. Lewis used the overwhelming success he obtained as his way to combat the racist and divisive nature of American business. Lewis also remarked that his skin color wasn’t a factor in Europe. Instead, he was judged there on the merit of his many achievements.

In 1993, Lewis died at the age of 50 after a long bout with brain cancer. His wife, attorney Loida Nicolas-Lewis, took over TLC Beatrice and ran it until 2000. She still serves as chairwoman and CEO of Beatrice, LLC a family-owned investment firm.

In 2005, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture opened in Baltimore.

(Photo: Reginald F. Lewis official website.)

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Little Known Black History Fact: Reginald F. Lewis  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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