Fortune 500 rank: 372
David Murdock got his start in business at age 22. He was a high school dropout, broke, and homeless. He even occasionally slept under a bush in a park in Detroit. Still, Murdock managed to cobble together the cash to buy and fix up a diner, which he sold at a profit. Then he drove west and got into real estate.
Flash forward 40 years, and Murdock's housing business generated enough profit to fund a string of increasingly large acquisitions. He bought a controlling stake in a mining company, a gas company, and -- in 1985 -- Dole Food Company, a subsidiary of a struggling Hawaiian firm. Murdock shaped Dole into a $6.8 billion business -- and the world's largest producer of fruits and vegetables.
These days, Murdock says he feels great. He eats an incredibly strict diet of mostly plants -- including citrus rinds and banana peels.
Wal-Mart retook the top spot, Berkshire Hathaway made the top five, and Apple grew enormously.