Through her New York-based holding company, Patriarch Partners, Ms. Tilton owns all or parts of 74 companies with revenues of more than $8 billion and 120,000 employees. By most measures, Patriarch is now the largest woman-owned business in America.
Ms. Tilton, 52 years old, built her fortune from an unlikely corner of the economy: down-and-out industrial firms. Her strategy is to buy manufacturers headed for the scrap heap and bring them back to life with new management teams and products. In the process, she’s become an unlikely crusader for America’s rust-belt. “The key to America’s future is manufacturing,” she says. “We simply have to become a country that can make things again.”
“If we don’t become a country that makes things again, we won’t have enough jobs for our people,” she said. “Without jobs, we could have social unrest. And that’s not science fiction.”