Steven M. Rales (born March 31, 1951) is an American businessman, film producer and chairman of Danaher Corporation. In 2018 Forbes listed him as the 88th richest person in America, with a net worth of $6.2 billion.[2]

Steven M. Rales
Steven Rales.jpg
Rales in 2016
Born (1951-03-31) March 31, 1951 (age 68)
Alma materB.A. DePauw University
J.D. American University
Film producer
Known forco-founder of Danaher Corporation
Net worthUS$ 6.9 billion (May 2019)[1]
Spouse(s)Christine Plank (divorced)
Lalage Damerell
Children3 (with Plank)[1]
Parent(s)Ruth Rales
Norman Rales
FamilyMitchell Rales (brother)

Early life and educationEdit

Raised in a Jewish family,[3] Rales is one of four sons of Ruth (née Abramson) and Norman Rales.[4] His father was raised in an orphanage, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York City, and became a businessman, who sold his building supply company in Washington, D.C. to his employees in what was the first employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) transaction in the U.S.[5] His father was also a philanthropist, founding the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation and the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service. Steven has three brothers: Joshua, Mitchell, and Stewart.[6][7]

Rales graduated in 1969 from Walt Whitman High School, in Bethesda, Maryland.[8] In 1973, he graduated from DePauw University, where he was in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. In 1978, he was awarded a J.D. from the American University.


In 1979, he left his father's real estate firm to found Equity Group Holdings, with his brother Mitchell Rales. Using junk bonds, they bought a diversified line of businesses: first Mastershield, a vinyl siding manufacturer, then Mohawk Rubber Company, then Diversified Mortgage Group. They changed the name to Diversified Mortgage Investors, in 1978, and then Danaher, in 1984.[9]

In 1985, they bought Easco Corporation, the then-largest independent aluminum extrusion manufacturer, and hand tool manufacturer which produced the Craftsman brand of sockets and wrenches for Sears.

In 1988, they made a hostile takeover bid for Interco, a conglomerate comprising manufacturers as diverse as Converse shoes and Ethan Allen furniture.[10][11] When the company responded with a poison pill, they sued, and prevailed in court.[12] They later ended the bid after five months with a profit of $60 million.[13]

In the 1980s, the AM side of WGMS was sold off to Washington, D.C., venture capitalists Steven and Mitchell Rales, who converted the music station into the first frequency for WTEM, a sports-talk station, in 1992.

He has served as Chairman of the Board of Danaher since January, 1984.[14]

In 1995 Steven and Mitchell Rales founded Colfax Corporation, a Richmond, Virginia industrial pumps manufacturer. In May 2008, Steven engineered the initial public offering of the company.[15]

Indian PaintbrushEdit

Rales owns the production company Indian Paintbrush,[16] which has funded The Darjeeling Limited (2007), and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).[17][18][19]

The company was also involved in Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012), Labor Day (2013), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015),[20] and Isle of Dogs (2018).[21]

Indian Paintbrush has a long term deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures.


He has been a major supporter of the Washington Ballet. In 2002, he was a major donor in the dedication of the Peeler Art Center at DePauw University.[22] He was a donor to GolfRocks.[23]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1983, he married Christine Plank, a 1974 DePauw University alumna.[24][25] They have three children,[26] Alexander, Gregory, and Stephanie.[27][28] They divorced in 2003.[26] In 2012, he married Lalage Damerell.[29]


  1. ^ a b "Steven Rales". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  2. ^ "Steven M. Rales Profile". Forbes. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  3. ^ Washington Jewish Week: "Five local Jews make Forbes richest list" Archived 2012-09-05 at the Wayback Machine October 7, 2009
  4. ^ "Obituary On Sunday, March 28, 2004, Ruth Rales, of Hillsboro Beach, FL and Potomac, MD". The Washington Post. March 30, 2004.
  5. ^ "Remembering Norman R. Rales 1923-2012". Jewish Family Service. March 15, 2012.
  6. ^ Sun Sentinel: "Norman Rales, orphan to wealthy businessman and philanthropist, is dead at 88" By Lisa J. Huriash March 15, 2012
  7. ^ Jewish Family Service: "Ruth Rales, 81, Philanthropist by Tal Abbady April 1, 2004
  8. ^ Murphy, Carolyn and Lynn Stander (September 2005). "We Knew Them When". Bethesda Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20.
  9. ^ "Steven Rales". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  10. ^ David A. Vise; Steve Coll (August 23, 1988). "The Rales Brothers Play for Big Stakes; Little-Known Area Family Builds an Industrial Empire". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 23, 2012.
  11. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Request on Interco". The New York Times. August 4, 1988.
  12. ^ Patrick A. Gaughan (2002). Mergers, Acquisitions, and Corporate Restructurings. John Wiley and Sons. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-471-23729-7.
  13. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Rales Brothers Sell Their Interco Stake". The New York Times. December 16, 1988.
  14. ^ "Steven M. Rales". Forbes.
  15. ^ Thomas Heath (July 7, 2008). "The Quiet Dynamism of the Brothers Rales". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ Kaufman, Anthony (2007-09-07). "Money men with a yen for films". Variety. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  17. ^ Steven M. Rales,
  18. ^ Steven M. Rales,
  19. ^ Kim Eisler (December 11, 2007). "What's a DC Billionaire Doing Aboard The Darjeeling Limited?". Washingtonian.
  20. ^ "Indian Paintbrush". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  21. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (2016-12-22). "Fox Searchlight Acquires Wes Anderson's 'Isle Of Dogs' In World Rights Deal". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  22. ^ Peeler Art Center Dedicated as Donor Remembers the Building's Namesake, Her Former Professor, DePauw University Archived 2009-01-04 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Sponsors, GolfRocks
  24. ^ Washingtonian Magazine: "Best Places To Live" by Kimberly Palmer And Mollie Reilly May 2012
  25. ^ DePauw University: Peeler Art Center Dedicated as Donor Remembers the Building's Namesake, Her Former Professor October 11, 2002
  26. ^ a b Find A Case: CHRISTINE P. RALES, APPELLANT v. STEVEN M. RALES, APPELLEE September 28, 2006
  27. ^ The Ron Brown Scholar Program:Remembering Norman R. Rales - 2010 American Journey Award Recipient"[permanent dead link] March 13, 2012
  28. ^ Hartford Courant: In the Matter of Marilyn Plank[permanent dead link] July 11, 2007
  29. ^ "Steven Rales & Lalage Damerell". The Times. September 3, 2013.

External linksEdit