Henry John Kaiser
entrepreneur, industrial contractor
Birthplace: Sprout Brook, N.Y.
Kaiser seemed to have a knack for being at the right place at the right time, winning government contracts to build highways, dams, and other public works projects in Canada, Cuba, and the U.S. He started his own construction business in 1914, building highways in Cuba, and managing the team that built the Hoover Dam (1931), and supplying concrete for the Shasta Dam (1939), and building the Parker, Bonneville, and Grand Coulee Dams. During World War II, he switched gears to invest in shipyards and supplied over 1,450 ships to the U.S. Navy. A prolific entrepreneur, he also founded businesses in industries ranging from steel to aircraft (with Howard Hughes), aluminum (Kaiser Aluminum), automobiles, and residential real estate (Kaisser Community Homes Corp.). Concerned with retaining key employees, he offered employees the first prepaid health plan in 1938, then in 1942 he founded what would become the country's largest health maintenance organization, Kaiser Permanente.Died: 8/24/1967