Vermont’s Richest Man Got His Start Making Rolling Papers

During his days building up what would eventually make him Vermont’s richest man, Robert Stiller’s employees used to have an expression to explain how things needed to be done.  CBS was how it went, ” ’cause Bob Says,” was what it stood for.  Stiller today was in the WSJ after he was forced by his bankers to unload another $123 million in stock  of his former company, Green Mountain Coffee.

Known by his employees as a low-key yoga aficionado who wore sweaters to work, he actually had a pretty ritzy lifestyle. He bought a New York City condo once owned by New England Quarterback Tom Brady for $17.5 million and a house in Palm Beach on the intracoastal waterway. But what people don’t realize, he said in the article, is that his only income was from selling the stock of his former company, which has sagged in recent months.

The story of how he became the Green Mountain State’s greenest man began when he started E-Z Wider, a rolling paper company, in 1971. He was only 28 years old, and eventually the company claimed 25% of the market share. Still, he says he wasn’t a heavy pot smoker despite his product’s association with the drug.

The lessons that the silver-haired Stiller learned about selling stock are problems that many former CEO’s have run into. You can borrow and use the big stock holding as collateral but banks require investors to maintain a certain balance in their accounts. When the stock dips, you’ve gotta sell more to keep them happy. You can only sell stock during certain times that are not blacked out.