Odwalla nearly alienated fans in the mid-90s after the company's unpasteurized apple juice carried an E.Coli strain that killed one person and sickened 66 more. But through smart and decisive action, the company saved its brand. The CEO quickly claimed responsibility and began a $6.5 million recall. Within months Odwalla created a flash pasteurization process so the problem wouldn't happen again -- a key to engendering trust among wary customers. It also sent delivery drivers, sidelined by the halt in business, to explain the changes to wholesale buyers. In short, Odwalla changed its ways to preserve the goodwill it had spent years building.
After Gates and Slim comes the secretive Amancio Ortega, who built the world's largest fashion empire, Zara.