John Mars Bio: What I Know About This Secretive Billionaire

John Mars owns one-third of Mars Inc, and the American businessman is one of the wealthiest people in the world, with a net worth of over $30 billion.

I’ll admit that I’m partial to many candy products that Mars Inc produce, and the reclusive nature of the Mars family made me want to learn more about them. I love finding out about secretive billionaires, and John Mars certainly fits this profile. Even the Mars Inc headquarters has been nicknamed ‘the kremlin’ due to its mysterious nature.

I’m going to take you through what I know about John Mars, his career, his family, and how Mars Inc has grown into a multi-billion dollar company. Before we get into the detail of this John Mars bio, here are some quick facts about this billionaire who generally stays out of the spotlight.

John Mars Bio Facts

Full Name: John Franklyn Mars
Birth Date: 15 October 1935
Birth Place: Arlington, Virginia, United States
Nationality: American
Siblings: 2 (Jacqueline, Forrest)
Children: 3 (Michael, Frank, Linda)
Partner / Spouse: Adrienne Bevis (married 1958)
Profession: Businessman
Salary: Unknown
Net Worth: $33.8 billion
Social Media: N/a
Companies Associated With: Mars, Inc.
Last Updated: 2022

John Mars Key Facts Summary

  • His net worth has doubled in ten years to $33.8 billion
  • His grandfather founded Mars Inc, and his father created the Milky Way chocolate bar
  • His first job was trying to start a pet food company in Australia
  • He has donated money to Reclaim America PAC, the leadership committee of Republican Senator Marco Rubio
  • Credited with pushing Mars Inc to adopt automation, which has allowed the company to expand its manufacturing capability
  • Owns one-third of Mars Inc, which is where his $33.8 billion wealth comes from
  • Is very secretive about his private life and resides in Jackson, Wyoming
  • Received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2015
  • Currently listed as the 30th richest person in the world.

John Mars Birthplace and Early Life

Arlington, Virginia

I think John Mars’ upbringing profoundly affected how he approached business and his life as he grew older.

Mars was born in 1935 alongside his siblings Jacqueline and Forrest Jr, in Arlington, Virginia, to Audrey Ruth (Meyer) and Forrest Mars Sr. John is the grandson of Frank C. Mars, who founded Mars Inc in 1911.

Even though John Mars was born into a family that was already successful with its range of candy products, he didn’t have a luxurious upbringing. By the time he was born in 1935, Mars Inc had already released the Milky Way (an idea of his father’s), Snickers bar, and 3 Musketeers bar. The firm expanded to the UK in 1930.

Despite the considerable success of these new candy products pioneered by his father and grandfather, John didn’t grow up in an extravagant environment. His father, Forrest Mars Sr, lived a frugal life and preached the value of hard work. Contrary to some other children born into prestigious families, John didn’t experience a lot of luxury, and I think the discipline and ethics instilled during his childhood impacted his attitudes later in life.

John Mars attended Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, in 1953 and later graduated from Yale University.

John Mars Business Success

After a stint in the US Army following his graduation from Yale, John entered the family business. I was surprised that the first task his father assigned to him was to establish a pet food company in Australia.

I suppose it makes a bit of sense, as John’s father continually infused the values of hard work and making your own way in life, and I think this was an early test for the young businessman. Moving to the other side of the world and trying to establish a new business can’t have been easy, but I think this was another life lesson that served John well in the future.

He didn’t achieve instant success down under, and it took time for John to build up a business in a new country. However, I think his time in Australia laid the groundwork for Mars Inc to expand globally with their pet care and products. These days, Mars Inc sells multiple pet products in Australia, and Mars Petcare operates out of three major sites in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland.

Following his attempt to establish and grow a pet food company in Australia, John focused solely on Mars Inc.

Not every successful business person relishes the spotlight. In contrast to people such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Tom Gores, who were and are often in the spotlight and a lot is known about how they conduct their business, John Mars and Mars Inc, in particular, have always had an element of secrecy.

While I don’t know all the finer details of John Mars’ success with Mars Inc, I do know he played a vital role in steering the company onto substantial business success. John was an influential operator in crafting many of the business decisions that grew Mars Inc into a multi-billion dollar company. One such decision was to invest in automation to produce more products quickly, allowing the company to expand manufacturing worldwide.

Another success was the decision in the early 1990s for Mars Inc to purchase Ethel M Chocolates, which his father started in 1980. Towards the end of the 1980s, Hershey overtook Mars as the number one candy company in the USA; however, John and his brother Forrest Jr. decided to buy Ethel M Chocolates, and this expansion moved them back to the top of the market.

Today, Mars Inc has a revenue of $37 billion and owns some of the most well-known brands in the world, such as:

  • Ben’s Original
  • Pedigree
  • Dolmio
  • Whiskas
  • Royal Canin

John Mars Videos

Mars Incorporated – Bigger Than You Know

John Mars Business Failures

Because the Mars family and Mars Inc have been shrouded in secrecy, it isn’t easy to pinpoint exact business decisions or case studies that have been a failure for John Mars.

However, as I mentioned above, Mars Inc did fall behind Hershey in the late 1980s and was pipped to being the leading candy manufacturer in the USA. I don’t think it is any surprise that Mars Inc and Hershey are rivals to each other. This didn’t last long, though, as John, alongside his brother Forrest Mars Jr, quickly responded to the situation and bought Ethel M Chocolates. Buying Ethel M Chocolates propelled them back to the number one spot by the early 1990s.

Mars Inc has been involved in various failings over the years. For example, they came under sharp criticism by PETA due to the seemingly unethical treatment of animals. Another prominent criticism was from NGO Mighty Earth due to the environmental impact of producing cocoa in Ghana.

I don’t think we can attribute these failures directly to John Mars, as he hasn’t been involved in the running of Mars Inc for several years, although he does sit as the chairman.

John Mars Family

John Mars was born into a family that was already experiencing success in the candy industry. His grandfather – Frank C Mars, founded the company in 1911, while his father, Forrest Mars Sr, started to take the company to new heights by introducing popular products such as the Milky Way.

John married Adrienne Bevis in 1958, and they had three children – Michael, Frank, and Linda.

Due to the family keeping their private life pretty secretive, I don’t have a lot of information on John’s wife and children. However, the collective wealth of John, his sister Jacqueline, and Forrest Jr’s four daughters, who have large stakes in the company, is estimated to be around $72 billion.

John Mars and Career Earnings

John Mars’ net worth is estimated to be $33.8 billion, as he owns 1/3 of Mars Inc.

His net worth has increased significantly over the last decade. In 2013 his net worth was estimated to be $17 billion, rising to $24 billion in 2020 and eventually to $33.8 billion today.

The Mars family is immensely wealthy as his sister Jacqueline owns 1/3 of Mars Inc, while his brother’s daughters own the other third (Forrest Jr passed away in 2016).

John Mars Real Estate Holdings

Unlike many incredibly wealthy people I research, John Mars doesn’t appear to have an extensive property portfolio. While he keeps his personal life very private, I think it makes sense that he wouldn’t have an expansive number of properties that are public knowledge.

The frugal nature of his father heavily influenced his upbringing, and many reports indicate that John has kept this up to a certain degree throughout his life.

I know he resides in Jackson, Wyoming, but I don’t have much information on his home or other real estates he might own.

Frequently Asked Questions – John Mars Bio

Question: What is John Mars’ net worth?

Answer: John Mars has an estimated net worth of $33.8 billion. This has doubled in the last 10 years.

Question: Does John Mars own all of Mars Inc?

Answer: No. John Mars owns one-third of Mars Inc, the company founded by his grandfather in 1911. The rest of the company is owned by his sister Jacqueline and the daughters of his late brother Forrest Jr.

Question: Where does John Mars live?

Answer: John Mars currently lives in Jackson, Wyoming. Before this, he lived in a property in Fairfax County, Virginia, although there isn’t any information available about the real estate he owns.

Question: Does John Mars give to charity?

Answer: Yes, While there isn’t a lot of public information available about the money John Mars and his family have donated, there is evidence he donates to wildlife and conservation causes.

Question: What did John Mars do before working for Mars Inc?

Answer: After John Mars graduated from Yale University, he spent two years in the US Army before trying to establish a pet food company in Australia at his father’s request.

Question: Did John Mars invent any chocolate bars?

Answer: I’m not sure if John Mars specifically invested in any popular chocolate bars, but his father invented the Milky Way and took inspiration for M&Ms from the British Candy, Smarties.

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