The World's oldest CEO?

Jan 23 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Almost a year ago, we blogged a piece from the LA Times suggesting that the oldest worker in the U.S. is Ella Clarke Nuite of Georgia, who at the age of 101 still works every day at her family's bottled water business.

Entirely by chance, we now know this to be untrue. On holiday in the U.S. last week, our editor happened to be passing Rockmount Ranch Wear, a Western clothing store located in a stunning restored Victorian warehouse in Downtown Denver's LoDo area.

Fancying a new shirt, he met Jack Weil, the company's founder and CEO who, at an astonishing 104 years old, still goes into work every day because, as he put it, "what else am I supposed to do all day?"

Jack - known by his employees and family as "Papa Jack," has been described as "being to western wear what Henry Ford is to the car". And Ė inadvertently quoting our own Dan Bobinski - he added: "when you love what you do, it isn't work".

Still producing the overwhelming majority of his shirts and clothing in the U.S., Jack also refuses to sell through chain stores or discounters Ė pouring particular scorn on Wal-Mart, whose founder, Sam Walton, he described as "nothing but a hillbilly", as well as JC Penney, both of whom he holds responsible for the destruction of America's garment manufacturers and wholesalers.

The secret of his longevity? Apart from the love of his job, he quit smoking at the age of 60, drinking at 90 and eating red meat when he was 100.