How Vinnie Johnson Built A Billion Dollar Company After Retirement From The NBA
Vinnie Johnson was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He was selected in the 1st round of the 1979 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics. After two seasons with the Supersonics, Johnson was traded to the Detroit Pistons where he spent the majority of his 13 year NBA career.
Johnson was nicknamed the “Microwave” because of his ability to come off the bench and get hot quickly with his scoring barrages.
From a financial perspective, NBA paycheques were not what they are today. After playing 13 seasons, Vinnie Johnson retired from the NBA in 1992 with less than $5 million dollars in career earnings.
Upon retirement from the NBA, Johnson knew he wanted to do 2 things:
- Start a business
- Give back to the community in Detroit
With his ambition in mind, Johnson began ‘Piston Automotive’ in 1995. Piston Automotive started out making packing supplies for automakers in Detroit, but they saw no success.
Bankruptcy was looming for the business and Johnson put his pride aside and asked for help. Johnson called up Harold Kutner, a VP at General Motors. After months of back & forth, Vinnie convinced Harold Kutner to come take a look at his operations.
After visiting the site, Kutner agreed for General Motors to be their first customer.
Asking for help when he needed it changed Vinnie Johnson’s life forever. By simply asking for guidance 25 years ago, the business has skyrocketed under his leadership.
Piston Automotive has 10,000 employees, $3 billion in annual revenue, and 20 locations across North America. Johnson currently serves as Chairman and CEO.
Vinnie Johnson went from $5 million in career earnings in the NBA to amassing fortune and a net worth over $400 million.
Johnson credits his success to humbleness. He says “my entire career in sports, I was willing to make adjustments. I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m not good at.”
Takeaway: According to CNBC, almost 70% of NBA players go broke within 5 years of leaving the NBA. Johnson put in the same hard work and dedication that led him to success in basketball, ultimately setting up his family for generational success.