The two richest men in Mississippi are siblings.
Hattiesburg brothers Tom and Jim Duff own Duff Capital Investors and are the only Mississippi residents on this year’s Forbes list of the world’s billionaires.
The brothers won’t disclose their net worth, but they are estimated to be worth $2 billion each. That ranks them 1,513 on the 2022 Forbes list of the world’s billionaires and at the top of the heap in Mississippi.
Under the umbrella of Duff Capital Investors, which is based in Columbia, sit 23 successful businesses. The list includes the Frozen Food Express, DeepWell Equipment Rentals, Southern Insurance Group, KLLM Trucking, TLWallace Construction and five car dealerships. Duff Capital Investors has earned $4.2 billion in revenues and employs more than 12,000 employees, mostly in Mississippi.
The ticket to the Duff fortune was the retail tire store started by their father, Ernest. Southern Tire Mart started in 1973. The billionaires started their careers as teenagers, learning to retread tires at their father’s business.
When Ernest sold the business in 1997, sales were at $140 million. Profits fell to $80 million annually under the new owner and the siblings managed to buy the business back and then turn it around. Southern Tire Mart now does a healthy $3 billion in sales annually, according to the Duffs.
Southern Tire Mart is one of the largest tire suppliers in the trucking industry. The company retreads tires for Penske, UPS and Ryder and sells more than 2 million truck tires annually, according to Forbes.
The Duffs are huge supporters of Mississippi higher education. They pledged more than $30 million to the University of Southern Mississippi in 2020 and $26 million to Ole Miss. Both campuses honored the brothers by dedicating buildings to them: the Jim and Thomas Duff Athletic Center at USM and the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation at Ole Miss.
The family also donated tractor trailers to the football programs at USM, Mississippi State, Jackson State and Ole Miss.