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Who’s William Wrigley Jr II? Profiling the billionaire who has ditched gum for cannabis

Former CEO of Wrigley's Gum and multi-billionaire William Wrigley Jr II is entering the cannabis industry off the back of a $65m investment after selling his family's business in 2008

William Wrigley Jr II was instrumental in the sale of his family business in 2008 and ten years on has enter the cannabis industry following a $65m (£50m) investment in Surterra Wellness.

The medical cannabis start-up is a far cry from US chewing gum business Wrigley’s Gum, and received the funding via the 54-year-old’s personal investment arm in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Based in Georgia, it has licences to operate in Florida and Texas and, with this latest investment, now claims it has raised a total of $100m (£77.5m) since 2015.

Mr Wrigley, who also joins Surterra’s board of directors as chairman, said: “I am thrilled to join the Surterra team and help drive their mission to build a best-in-class cannabis healthcare business.

“After extensive diligence, we determined that Surterra has the highest quality standards, best products and most professional management team in the industry.

“We believe in the ability of cannabis to improve quality of life for patients across the country, and we are excited to build a global industry leader for the long term.”

William Wrigley Jr II
William Wrigley Jr II, also known as Beau

Who’s William Wrigley Jr II? Heading the family business

Mr Wrigley Jr II – known as Beau – joined Wm Wrigley Jr Company (Wrigley’s Gum)  in 1985 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania.

The global leader in confections had been founded on 1 April 1891 by his great-grandfather William Wrigley Jr.

During his tenure with the business he occupied several roles, including chairman, president and ultimately CEO.

He oversaw the expansion of its product portfolio through various acquisitions, including breath mint brand Altoids and confectioner LifeSavers, growing the company’s global presence to reach consumers in 180 countries.

Wrigley's chewing gum
Wrigley’s chewing gum

In 2006, he vacated the CEO role in favour of former Nike chief executive William Perez, the first non-Wrigley to head the company.

Mr Perez didn’t last long, however, and in 2008, the Wm Wrigley Jr Company was sold to privately-held Mars, Inc – a process in which Mr Wrigley Jr II was reportedly heavily involved.

 

Who’s William Wrigley Jr II? Life as an investor

Mr Wrigley Jr II currently acts as president of Wychwood Asset Management LLC, an investment company that invests in a range of venture capital and private equity interests.

The 54-year-old additionally serves on several boards of various businesses across the technology, media, and health and wellness spaces.

Speaking after his investment in Surterra, the company’s CEO Jake Bergmann said: “Surterra is proud to welcome Beau, a business leader who brings decades of world-class experience and expertise in brand building, to Surterra Wellness.

“Having a seasoned industry veteran like Beau intimately involved in building Surterra’s business is exciting for the future of Surterra, our patients and the entire medical cannabis industry.”

Mr Wrigley Jr II’s net worth currently stands at $2.9bn (£2.25bn), according to Forbes.

Wrigley
A Surterra Wellness centre (Credit: Surterra Wellness)

 

What is Surterra Wellness?

Founded in 2014, Surterra Wellness owns one of 14 currently issued medical marijuana licences in Florida and one of three in Texas, catering to 49 million Americans in two of the nation’s fastest-growing state populations.

The company operates ten Flordia-based Wellness centres in Pensacola, Tallahassee, Tampa, North Port, Largo, Deltona, Jacksonville, Orlando and Port Orange, as well as the first and only Wellness centre in Miami Beach.

wrigley
The U.S. cannabis industry is expected to grow to over $23.4 billion by 2022 (Credit: Surterra Wellness)

It offers a range of products including vapouriser pens, tinctures, oral sprays and topical creams aimed at unlocking the natural health benefits of cannabis-based ingredients.