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# 345 Dennis Washington $6.23B

Random fact: His Attessa IV won award for best rebuilt yacht in 2011.


Washington is the owner of Washington Companies, an industrial conglomerate with interests in copper mining, waste remediation, shipyards and railroads. The Missoula, Montana-based company has more than 900 miles of rail track in its home state. He also controls a major stake in Seaspan, which has more than 100 container ships.

As of :
Last change -$23.9M ( -0.4%)
YTD change +$603M ( +10.7%)
Industry Industrial
Biggest asset Montana Rail Link
Citizenship United States
Age 86
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Dennis Washington's net worth of $6.23B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Washington's fortune is derived from his sole ownership of the Washington Companies, a Missoula, Montana-based conglomerate that has businesses split among eight main subsidiaries. The company doesn't disclose revenue or profitability. The value of each subsidiary is based on other information disclosed by Washington Companies and the metrics of publicly traded peer companies.

Washington's Montana Resources unit is valued by cross-referencing federal mine rankings with disclosures by publicly traded competitors. Its rail businesses are valued by multiplying a cost-per-cargo multiple derived from company-reported annual cargo shipments and the average revenue-per-carload of its peers. Closely held marine assets are valued by using fleet data provided by the conglomerate and ship-broker sales reports. Replacement costs are based on broker and government reports.

The valuation of Washington's dry-dock business is based on Canadian government projections of revenue issued in conjunction with a federal ship contract. It's then calculated at 1x sales. The value of winglet manufacturer Aviation Partners is based on revenue of $500 million, a figure disclosed in a 2012 court case.

Larry Simkins, Washington's chief financial officer, said the billionaire declined to comment on the calculation of his net worth.


Birthdate: 1/1/1934
Family: Married, No children

Dennis Washington was born in Spokane, Washington, during the Great Depression. He moved around the Pacific Northwest with his family to places where work could be found. 

At age 8, while his father was working as a dock hand, Washington contracted polio. An aunt smuggled him out of the quarantined town where they were living to a hospital in Seattle, where he was one of the early recipients of heat therapy. Returning home a year later, he learned his parents were divorcing. Over the following years, he lived with relatives in three states before settling in Missoula, Montana, with his grandmother, whom he's described as the greatest influence on him as a young man.

Washington was self-sufficient by age 14, selling newspapers, working as a mechanic and shining shoes, according to a biography provided by Washington Companies. By age 26, he was an executive at a construction company. He decided in 1964 to go into business for himself, backed by a loan from a Caterpillar dealer. Early work included cutting a parking lot at the summit of Glacier National Park and building roads for the U.S. Forest Service. He was the largest contractor in the state five years later.

He purchased the dormant Continental Mine in Butte, Montana in 1985 and restarted copper production. He diversified into other businesses, including heavy equipment sales -- he is a Komatsu dealer -- and railroads such as Montana Rail Link, a 900-mile stretch of track that moves oil from North Dakota to the west coast.

Washington's business centered around construction until 2007, when the business was sold for about $2.6 billion. More recently, he has amassed a controlling stake in Seaspan, a publicly traded marine-freight company. He also owns several closely held entities that use the Seaspan name and operate shipyards, ferries, tugboats and barges, primarily in the Vancouver, British Columbia, region.

With his wife, Phyllis, Washington splits his time between Montana; Palm Springs, California; and his yacht, the 332-foot Attessa IV. Their philanthropic efforts include providing life-changing experiences for disadvantaged children. Two sons, Kevin and Kyle, are executives at Seaspan.

  • 1934 Dennis R. Washington is born in Spokane, Washington.
  • 1942 Contracts polio at age 8 while living in Bremerton, Washington.
  • 1964 Forms construction company to repair roads for U.S. Forest Service.
  • 1976 Buys heavy equipment dealer Modern Machinery.
  • 1987 Montana Rail Link formed with lease of southern Montana train route.
  • 1992 Purchase of Canadian tugboat company marks foray into marine transport.
  • 2005 Seaspan sells shares in an initial public offering.
  • 2011 Closely held Seaspan wins Canadian contract to build non-combat vessels.