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# 442 Dennis Washington $5.76B

Random fact: Worked as a mechanic and newspaper delivery man as a teenager.


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 sold about 900 miles of track in 2022 for about $2 billion. He also controls a major stake in Seaspan, which has more than 100 vessels.

As of :
Last change -$1.41M ( -0.0%)
YTD change +$204M ( +3.7%)
Biggest asset Cash
Country / Region United States
Age 89
Industry Industrial
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Dennis Washington's net worth of $5.76B 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 value of each subsidiary is based on information disclosed by Washington Companies and the metrics of publicly traded peer companies.

Washington's Montana Resources unit is valued by multiplying US Geological Survey average mineral prices by the company's production numbers as provided in a January 2021 article in the Montana Standard. Southern Railway of British Columbia is valued based on rail company BNSF's February 2022 agreement to claim the rail properties of what was once the Washington Companies' most valuable asset, Montana Rail Link, for approximately $2 billion. His closely held marine assets, owned through an association of Canadian companies called Seaspan, are valued by using fleet data provided by Seaspan and ship-broker sales reports.

The valuation of Washington's Vancouver Drydock, one of the Seaspan firms, is based on Canadian government projections of revenue issued in conjunction with a federal ship contract. It's then calculated at 1x sales.

Washington separately owns around one-fifth of the publicly traded asset management firm Atlas Corporation, incorporated in the Marshall Islands. One of the two companies wholly owned by Atlas is Seaspan Corporation, a manager and charterer of more than 100 container ships.

The value of winglet manufacturer Aviation Partners is based on 2020 revenue of $422 million, derived from disclosures on the total number of aircraft sporting its winglets and production costs.

In April 2022, Washington's net worth was recalculated to account for the sale of his Montana Rail Link assets for below their estimated prior value, resulting in a decline of $2.5 billion.

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


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, which operates around 900 miles of track mostly in the state of Montana.

Washington's business centered around construction until 2007, when the business was sold for about $2.6 billion. 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.