A Winning Success Story You’ll Never Believe

A Winning Success Story You'll Never Believe

A Winning Success Story You’ll Never Believe

Could you imagine making your fortune of discarded bananas? We do not know about you, but when we heard this story, we could not believe what we were hearing. In 1895, a Russian immigrant found nearly rotten bananas on a train that was headed north.  Seeing that the bananas would go to waste, he formulated a mind-blowing idea, as the idea made him the “Richie Rich” of New Orleans. This is the winning success story of Sam the Banana Man, Samuel Zemurray.

The Start of a Legacy

A distraught and frustrated Samuel Zemurray was an 18 year old from Russia who had dreams to make it big in the United States. On the fateful day, in 1985, his rotten luck changed because of rotten bananas lying on the train. Hoping to get a fresh start, he made the decision to buy the bananas at a discounted rate and sold them to the locals and grocers. His entrepreneurial mind earned him his nickname at the age of 21.

The Rise of the Banana Man

Samuel aimed to broaden his reach and import his bananas to the markets of Latin America, especially to Honduras and Nicaragua. Upon reaching Honduras, the first thing he did was to buy land. However, his debt, during that time, rose significantly. With the situation regarding his debt getting worse, he feared that he would lose his business due to owing a huge amount of tax. He reached out to officials for help, but only met with rejection. With all the avenues closed, he took matters in his own hands.

He smuggled back the exiled president of Honduras along with weapons to overthrow the government. After the government was overthrown, he emerged as a winner with his business saved from the brink of bankruptcy. Living of the fruits of his success, he decided to retire in 1930, selling his company to United Fruit Company, his rival company for millions in stock.

The Comeback

When United Fruit Company suffered management setbacks, Zemurray came in to save the day. His return back to the banana business was an eventful one as he put his brilliant mind into first gear once more. He bought the controlling share of the company, voted out the board of directors, and decentralized the decision making process to make his one time rival company bask in profits again.

The End of a Legacy

In 1954, Zemurray stepped down from his post as president of the United Fruit Company. After retirement, he donated to the Tulane University, showed support for President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, and was asked to help develop the Agricultural Adjustment Administration codes. To this day, people know him as the man who saw opportunities in places where others failed to recognize. He remains as one of the most influential and opportunistic entrepreneurs in history. With his passing in 1961, the tales of seeing slightly rotten bananas and making them into a moneymaker is still told to agricultural students today.

What's YOUR Story?


“If you have the will to win, you have achieved half your success; if you don’t, you have achieved half your failure.” ~ David Ambrose

“If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it;  Every arrow that flies feels the attraction of earth.”    ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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