Who Is Mitchell Rales: Early Life, Education, Career, Personal Life and Net Worth. Photo: Forbes
Who Is Mitchell Rales: Early Life, Education, Career, Personal Life and Net Worth. Photo: Forbes

Who Is Mitchell Rales - Biography

Mitchell Rales (born 1956) is an American billionaire businessman and a collector of modern and contemporary art and is the richest person in Maryland.

He co-founded Danaher Corporation in 1983 and is the chairman of its executive committee. Rales is one of the Washington, D.C. region's eleven billionaires. In collaboration with his wife Emily Wei Rales, an art historian and curator, he has established Glenstone, a private museum in Potomac, Maryland, which presents exhibitions of their collection of art. As of October 2021, his net worth was estimated at US$7 billion.

Mitchell Rales: Early Life & Education

Photo:  LittleSis
Photo: LittleSis

Raised in a Jewish family, Mitchell is one of four sons of Norman and Ruth Rales. His father was raised in an orphanage, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City and later became a very successful businessman who sold his building supply company in Washington, D.C. to his employees in what was the first employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transaction in the U.S. His father was also a philanthropist founding the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service. Mitchell has three brothers: Joshua, Steven, and Stewart.

Mitchell grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Walt Whitman High School in 1974. He earned a degree in business administration at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1978 and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Mitchell Rales: Career

Photo:  Catillation
Photo: Catillation

In 1979, he left his father's real estate firm to found Equity Group Holdings, with his brother Steven M. Rales. Using junk bonds, they bought a diversified line of businesses. They changed the name to Diversified Mortgage Investors, in 1978, and then Danaher, in 1984.

In the 1980s, the AM side of WGMS was sold off to Washington, D.C., venture capitalists Steven and Mitchell Rales, who converted the music station into the first frequency for WTEM, a sports-talk station, in 1992. In 1988, he made a hostile takeover bid for Interco, (including Converse (shoe company), and Ethan Allen (furniture company)). He later ended the bid after five months with a profit of $60 million.

In May 2008, they engineered the initial public offering of Colfax, a Richmond, Virginia industrial pumps manufacturer.

Mitchell Rales Danaher

 Photo: DCist
Photo: DCist

Mitchell is the co-founder of Danaher where he serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee on Danaher’s Board of Directors since 1983, where he served as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Danaher since 1984. He has served there for more than five years in private and public business entities in the manufacturing area.

He is a member of the board of directors at Colfax Corporation. He and his brother Steven Rales founded The strategic vision and leadership which helped him to create the Danaher Business System and guiding Danaher down the path of consistent, and profitable growth that continues up to date. As a result of his substantial ownership stake in Danaher, he positioned to understand an articulate advocate for the rights and interests of Danaher’s shareholders.

Mitchell Rales Colfax

He is the co-founder of Colfax and he has served as its director since its founding in 1995. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors. He is also the co-founder of Danaher’s board of directors and he also serves as a member of the board of directors at Danaher Corporation, a global science, and technology company, since 1983 and as Chairman of Danaher’s Executive Committee since 1984.

Mitchell Rales was also a member of the Fortive Corporation board of directors, which is a diversified industrial growth company that was spun off from Danaher in 2016. For over 25 years he has been serving as a principal in a number of private business entities with interests in manufacturing companies and publicly traded securities. He helped in the creation of the Danaher Business System, on which the Colfax Business System is modeled, and he then provided critical strategic guidance to the Company during its development and growth.

Glenstone Museum

Photo:  Healthy Wire
Photo: Healthy Wire

The museum houses his collection of modern and contemporary masterworks. Located on of landscaped lawns, meadows, and woods in Potomac, Maryland, this private art museum was designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. The structure, which is part of an assemblage of buildings and outdoor sculpture, stands across a pond from the client’s home, guesthouse, and pool house. The museum is a multiple volume, single-level structure clad in zinc panels and French limestone. A large, naturally lit sculpture gallery is the organizing element for a sequence of 18-feet-high gallery spaces with state-of-the-art museum environmental controls, and an administrative office suite. The sculpture gallery is also the gathering space for receptions and special events and opens onto a terrace overlooking the pond and grounds. Support space to one side of the galleries includes high-density art storage, temporary holding space, a service dock, and a catering kitchen.

Photo: Artsy
Photo: Artsy

Visitors to the museum grounds must first pass through the estate’s entry gatehouse and then drive along a maple tree-lined road, passing between two commissioned sculptures by Richard Serra and Tony Smith. The cobblestone entry court, anchored by another Richard Serra piece, has views of the pond, the residence, and a commissioned Ellsworth Kelly totem sculpture which acts as the site’s fulcrum.

Glenstone’s exhibitions remain up for a long time (the Louise Bourgeois show is on from May of this year to January 2020), and most of the shows in the pavilions are semi-permanent installations, such as the untitled Robert Gober installation from 1992. It envelops the visitor in a slightly sinister forest, bookended by bales of old newspapers juxtaposed with boxes of rat poison, lined with sinks whose taps run ad infinitum; the experience is something like undergoing Chinese water torture in a sylvan prison. It is not the kind of artwork one buys on a whim.

Indeed, the Raleses, who married in 2008 and have two young daughters together, practice what one might call “slow collecting.” They are known for their methodical, deliberate acquisitions, based on careful research and a deep well of patience. They rarely buy at auction, but work quietly and discreetly to acquire whatever is piquing their interest at the time. (Wei Rales cited the five years of discussions it took to establish “a sense of trust” before they could acquire Kawara’s Moon Landing triptych from 1969.) They do their own homework; like most collectors, they have an extensive network of friends in the museum and gallery world, but they do not work with a dedicated art advisor, according to Artsy.

“We spend a lot of time thinking about art history, we read a wide range of art writing, we stay aware of what’s in the museums and galleries, and we look carefully. Then we go with our own taste and understanding, and wait 20 years to find out if we’ve been on the right track,” Wei Rales said.

Continuous improvement

That collecting strategy comes in part from the core business philosophy of the firm that brought Mitchell Rales his billions. As the co-founder, with his brother Steven, of the industrial conglomerate Danaher, they aim to buy the top firms in each field they enter. Then, they hire the best talent they can find to manage and refine the firm’s operations—applying another Danaher principle, the Japanese concept of kaizen, which advocates continuous improvement.

Kaizen is a core part of Glenstone, too, applied to its hiring and operational practices. Recently, one of Danaher’s leading kaizen teachers held a training at the environmental center to upgrade the landscaping staff’s cleanliness practices, “how you put away and store things, all your materials and supplies,” Rales said. “We made big improvements on things.” The museum has a staff of 130, including a full-time horticulturalist to look after Jeff Koons’s flower sculpture Split-Rocker (2000), and 25 guides who are part of a program to build a pipeline of young arts professionals.

The attention to detail shows up everywhere, from the meticulous planting of more than 8,000 trees to the dove-white umbrellas offered to visitors in case of rain, to the two light-filled cafes with farm-to-table food. The buildings and the 230 acres of grounds (the Pavilions were designed by architect Thomas Phifer and Partners, and the landscaping was by Adam Greenspan of PWP Landscape Architecture) were lavished with just as much attention as the collection, to create what Wei Rales called a “holistic experience of art, architecture, and landscape.”

Mitchell Rales: Personal life

Rales has been married twice:

Lyn Goldthorp Rales with whom he has two children. They divorced in 1999. Their son Matthew founded the grass-based livestock farm ‘Grassential LLC.’

Emily Wei (b. 1976), the director of Glenstone

Mitchell Rales: Net Worth

Mitchell Rales is an American businessman born around 1956 and with a current net worth of $3.7 billion. Mitchell Rales is the richest person in Maryland. His net worth is a testament to his success in the field of business, and he currently serves as a director of the Danaher Corporation, where he has had a place on the board since 1983.

Rales is also known for his philanthropic work, as he serves on the boards for organizations such as the Hirshhorn Museum and the National Gallery of Art. He is also the proprietor of the Glenstone Museum, which is the home to Rales' collection of artistic masterpieces in a variety of media. As museums go, the Glenstone Museum is a highly exclusive venue, and visitors can only find their way into the museum by appointment.

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