Americo Amorim, known as the King of Cork for building his fortune on cork stoppers and believed to be Portugal’s wealthiest man, has died. He was 82.
Amorim’s fortune was recently estimated by Forbes at 4.4 billion euros ($5 billion). His company, Corticeira Amorim, is the world leader in cork production.
The board of directors of his Corticeira Amorim Group announced his death, adding a statement to their website to pay “homage to this man of vision, hard work and causes, who dedicated more than six decades of his remarkable career to development of the Group and the Portuguese economy.”
Corticeira Amorim was founded by Americo’s grandfather in 1870 and the business still processes about one quarter of the world’s cork today. Americo remained chairman of the board of the Grupo Amorim holding company, which owns Corticeira Amorim, among his other interests in the energy and banking sector.
As one of the largest companies in Portugal, the family-owned Amorim has been selling cork products globally for 145 years. Now in its fourth generation of leadership, the company started as producer of wine stoppers, which today still accounts for 60% of the business. It expanded significantly in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Today, there are five business units that collectively operate in more than 100 countries: wine stoppers (4 billion sold annually), raw materials (Amorim doesn’t own the forests from which it sources its cork; this division is responsible for buying the cork and distributing to the other divisions), floor and wall coverings (a $130 million business), composite cork and insulation cork.
Amorim Flooring North America is based in Baltimore with warehouses in both Baltimore and California. The company sells to retailers through a national network of 13 or 14 distributors, most of which are among the top 25 flooring wholesalers.