John Richard (Jack) Simplot was born in Dubuque, Iowa in 1909. He was brought to Idaho at an early age, grew up along the Snake River and through hard work, diligence, and perhaps some good luck, gained an international reputation as a self-made billionaire industrialist.
Mr. Simplot’s contribution to the agriculture industry is well known world wide, and his contribution to Manitoba’s agriculture industry and to our communities over the past four decades has been noteworthy.
He first learned about phosphate as an essential nutrient for his potato crops in the 1930’s. This was the start of the J.R. Simplot Company’s Minerals and Chemicals Group, which grew to become the largest phosphate fertilizer producer in western North America. Under his leadership, Simplot Canada Limited established a fertilizer manufacturing facility in Brandon in 1965, doubling its capacity in 1998. Simplot subsequently founded a series of retail fertilizer and chemical outlets around the province of Manitoba that for a number of years were known as “Simplot Soilbuilders”.
Mr. Simplot’s involvement in the potato industry resulted in the Simplot Food Division, one of the world’s largest potato processing organizations. In 1962, in conjunction with the farmers in the Carberry area, a potato processing plant was established. Because of this plant, Manitoba’s potato industry began to grow in size and prosper. The jointly owned facility in Carberry is presently called Mid-West Food Products Inc.
The J.R. Simplot Company is currently building a potato processing facility at Portage la Prairie. Scheduled to open in 2003 at a cost of $120 million, it will employ 230 people and will continue to foster diversification in Manitoba’s economy.
A Simplot cattle feedlot operated for many years in Carberry, and was one of Mr. Simplot’s favourite destinations when he travelled to Manitoba.
Mr. Simplot has served on the boards of large American companies, including McDonald’s Corporation and Continental Life and Accident Company and as chairman of the board of trustees of the College of Idaho. He was one of the founders of Micron Technology and served on that company’s board for 22 years.
Mr. Simplot is married to Esther Becker Simplot and has two sons, Don and Scott, and a daughter, Gay. A third son, Richard, is deceased. The Simplot family believes in reinvesting in the community. They recently donated land and material to create the Millennium Baseball Park in Brandon. This is one of many examples of the Simplot family’s commitment to Brandon and other Manitoba communities.