Donald Trump may have fallen from Forbes magazine's 1990 listing of the 400 richest Americans, published this week, but Utah gained two new members.
Joining Utah businessmen Jon M. Huntsman, James L. Sorensen and L.S. Skaggs - Utah's only members of the exclusive club last year - in the Forbes 400 are Alan Ashton and Bruce Bastian, partners in the computer software company WordPerfect Corp. based in Orem.Ashton and Bastian join a 1990 list more notable for who dropped out this year rather than who got on. Also grabbing headlines in this year's listing of the nation's richest is the fact that many of those who made the 1990 list are considerably poorer than they were at this time last year.
For the first time since the Forbes 400 was published in 1982, the minimum net worth required to make the list went down, from $275 million in 1989 to $260 million in 1990.
Adjusted for inflation, the drop was more than 11 percent.
Former billionaire Trump was the most noteworthy loser, dropping right off the list. Communications mogul John Werner Kluge topped the list and was one of the few to buck the trend toward smaller net worths. The Metromedia founder added $400 million to his fortune during the past year to reach an estimated $5.6 billion.
Ashton, 45, and Bastian, 39, are said by Forbes to have identical net worths of $475 million each. Ashton, married with 11 children, is a former Brigham Young University computer science professor who teamed up with graduate student and band director Bastian, married with four children, to write a program that diagramed BYU band formations.
Later, they wrote a word processing program for the city's Data General minicomputer system that was made commercially available in 1980 without venture capital. In 1982 an IBM PC version of the program appeared with the name WordPerfect and they pair have never looked back.
Company profits are now cited by Forbes as around $83 million (as much as 50 percent profit margin) with no debt. Each man owns 49.9 percent of the company.
Huntsman's net worth is placed at "$450 million or more" by Forbes, the second consecutive year he has appeared on the list.
The 53-year-old chairman and chief executive of Salt Lake-based Huntsman Chemical Co., whose fortune was made in plastics manufacturing, says he foresees expansion into Europe and the Far East and is quoted in Forbes as saying, "In 10 years I expect to be running a $5 billion (revenues) corporation."
Sorensen, 69, is the richest Utahn, according to Forbes, which ranks his net worth at more than $525 million. The founder of Sorenson Research came out the wealthiest Utahn because of his shares of Abbott Labs valued at that figure.
Skaggs, 67, chairman of Salt Lake-based American Stores Co. is a regular to the list with a net worth this year of $415 million, down from $430 million last year.
In its write-up on Skaggs, Forbes describes him this way: "Known to employees as The Wizard. Likes privacy." An unattributed quote in the brief article states "Any real good businessman has a streak of barracuda in him, and so does Sam."
The heirs to the fortune of hotel and restaurant magnate J. Willard Marriott - Alice Sheets Marriott and her sons J. Willard Jr. and Richard Edwin - are listed in a separate category of "Family Fortunes." Forbes lists the Marriott family's net worth at more than $700 million. The Marriotts are not current residents of Utah but have close ties to the state and have been generous contributors to Utah causes.