The late John H. Johnson started JPC in 1942 with Negro Digest, the predecessor to Ebony and Jet, some 30 years before the first BE 100s list. He would create an international conglomerate that included magazines, book publishing, radio stations, a fashion show and cosmetic companies. For more than 60 years, he touched the lives of millions of African Americans in every facet of life, sharing their talents and potential, exposing injustice and racism, and shattering social and commercial barriers. At the same time, he introduced corporate America to the black consumer market.
Among the JPC brands housed in the Michigan Avenue building Johnson owned: Ebony, Jet, Ebony Fashion Fair, Fashion Fair Cosmetics and Supreme Life Insurance Co., the employer that launched his career that he would eventually place among the top 10 on the BE INSURANCE list. Due to these milestones and many more, Johnson was named BE's Entrepreneur of the Decade in 1987.
A decade later when Johnson enjoyed Marathon Man status, the company was No. 2 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE List with gross sales of $326 million. Today, JPC is run by its chairman Linda Johnson Rice, the founder's daughter, and CEO Desiree Rogers, former White House Social Secretary. It is still positioned among the BE 100s. A speaker at our 2014 Women of Power Summit, Johnson Rice said that she sold an equity stake to JPMorgan Chase's Special Investment Group and divested assets such as the office building to reposition the media and lifestyle company for the digital era.
Ranked No. 43 0n the 2013 BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE list with $70 million in revenue, JPC is a smaller, nimbler entity as Johnson Rice and Rogers seek to leverage its collection of media assets to connect with today's consumers.