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The Founders of Most of America’s Retail Dynasties Were Immigrants

Many of the most well-known and successful retail dynasties in the United States were founded by immigrants.

Immigrants to the U.S. start businesses more frequently than people born in the U.S., and these companies generate billions of dollars for the U.S. economy while creating millions of jobs annually.

And this is to say nothing of companies, such as Amazon and Apple, that were created by the children of immigrants.

Here’s a look at three of the leading companies in the U.S. that were founded by immigrants.


There’s a decent chance that at least some of the phones you use or the internet you access are provided by AT&T. This telecommunications giant was founded by a Scottish immigrant, Alexander Graham Bell, in 1875 and is credited for revolutionizing how people all over the world communicate.

Mr. Bell secured the exclusive rights to the invention of the telephone and secured investors to help ensure the project’s success. He obtained a patent for the telephone while launching the Bell Telephone Company, which would eventually become AT&T.[1]

AT&T generated more than $190 billion in revenue and employed more than 250,000 people in 2017.[2]


Most shoppers have frequented, or at least know of, Kohl’s Department Stores. This vast chain, which now features more than 1,000 stores, was founded by Maxwell Kohl, a Polish immigrant, in 1962.

Mr. Kohl immigrated to the U.S. at a young age and opened a small grocery store in Wisconsin. After selling that operation, he entered the department store business and built a successful chain that offered lower prices and higher quality goods.[3]

Kohl’s Department Stores generated more than $18 billion in revenue while employing 136,000 people as of 2016.[2]


One of the world’s most well-known pharmaceutical companies, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, is Pfizer, which was founded by German immigrants Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart in 1849.

Pfizer’s two founders, who were cousins, came to New York City in their mid-20s and started the company in a small building in Brooklyn. The operation grew, in part aided by the medical demands of the Civil War. In addition, the two chemists leveraged their talents, business acumen, and resources to expand their business.

Pfizer generated more than $52 billion in revenue while employing 96,500 people as of 2017.[2]

Here at Visa Business Plans, we have helped thousands of clients achieve their immigration and business goals by leveraging our business experience and knowledge.

If you are looking to launch a business in connection with your U.S. or Canadian immigration goals, call us today to find out more about how we can assist you.

Visa Business Plans is led by Marco Scanu, a certified coach from the University of Miami with a globally-based practice coaching Fortune 1000 company executives, entrepreneurs, as well as professionals in 4 different continents. Mr. Scanu advises clients on turnaround strategies and crisis management.

Mr. Scanu received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from the University of Florida and an MBA in Management from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Mr. Scanu was also a Visiting Scholar at Michigan State University under the prestigious H. Humphrey Fellowship (Fulbright program) with a focus on Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, and high-growth enterprises.

At present, Mr. Scanu is the managing partner and CEO at Visa Business Plans, a Miami-based boutique consulting firm providing attorneys and investors with business planning services in the areas of U.S. and Canadian immigration, SBA loans, and others.

[1] https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/alexander-graham-bell


[3] https://www.ilctr.org/entrepreneur-hof/maxwell-kohl/