Bill Britt: Amway Legend

     Bill Britt, one of the most successful MLM businessmen in history and the man who built one of the world’s largest direct sales networks, died this week of heart failure.  He was 81 years old.  There will be a funeral service held in LaGrange, North Carolina and a memorial service next week in Raleigh.
 
 
     Britt was famous as a straight shooter, unabashed and uncompromising in his views.  While most entrepreneurs would advise against mixing the subjects of religion or politics with business, those were always the central themes of any of his speeches.  Britt’s strong patriotism and conservative political views were stated clearly – before crowds of thousands – without hesitation.  And his Christian faith was declared loudly and without apology.  If Margaret Thatcher was the “Iron Lady,” to her generation, Bill Britt was surely the “Iron Man” within the world of network marketing.
 
 
     The North Carolina businessman was seldom thought of as separate from his wife, Peggy.  It was always “Bill and Peggy Britt,” even though Peggy was a quiet, soft spoken, a contrast to her husband’s more bombastic personality.  Peggy could often be seen at large conventions, looking on adoringly as Bill gave speeches, like a Nancy Reagan, supporting her man.  And like Mrs. Reagan, Peggy was known to be alert to those who would take advantage of her husband.
 
 
     Likewise, when Bill Britt’s name was mentioned it was often in the same sentence with Dexter Yager, Bill’s upline networking colleague.  Bill made a career out of demonstrating public loyalty to Dexter.  It was surely part of the secret to his success at keeping together such a large, cohesive network organization, for such a long time.
 
 
     On Bill’s 80th birthday, at a gathering of several hundred networking leaders, Bill Britt brought back Dexter Yager to honor him and tell his leaders that “this is the man who changed my life.”
 
 
     Britt was a city manager in North Carolina when he was first shown the networking business by Dominick Coniguilaro, a downline friend and distributor of Dexter Yager.  As the Yager network expanded across North America, Bill Britt’s organization followed a close second.
 
 
     A major turning point in the history of networking took place when Yager and Britt were confronted by a young man with a big idea.  Richard Clark suggested that they build their own cassette tape manufacturing plant.  As networkers they already had a customer base that would justify the investment and if the plant were big enough they could make a fortune when massive orders for a hit song or a political candidate suddenly demanded it.
 
 
     According to the story widely accepted on the street, Yager declined the Clark suggestion and Britt said, “Yes.”  It was a decision that would soon make Britt and network marketers worldwide extremely rich.  Within a few years Britt’s company would be one of the major suppliers of cassettes in North America.  For a time, the Amway Corporation and Dexter Yager, himself, would buy their tapes from Bill Britt’s manufacturing concern.
 
 
     Britt was late to the international networking game.  He invested large amounts of money and fielded a superb staff but the formula of God and Country that worked so well in North America fell flat in other markets.  Not only did he fall behind Jim and Nancy Dornan who built Network 21, the largest worldwide network, but for a while he fell behind his upline, Dexter Yager, as well.
 
 
     Britt found his comeback in Kanti and Lata Gala, business persons from India.  They went on to build a huge business worldwide.  Arguably, the largest surviving remnants of the Britt organization in North America are led by Ron Puryear in the Pacific Northwest and Larry and Pam Winters in North Carolina.   Other domestic leaders include Angelo and Claudia Nardone and Paul and Leslie Miller.
 
 
     Joel Griffing says that Bill Britt came from a troubled home.  His father was an alcoholic.  In a rare moment, when asked when and how his life changed he offered a story that was seldom told onstage.  He was an enlisted soldier in Korea, he said, when another soldier came along and said “Bill, you’re officer material.”  According to Britt, that small exchange turned his life around.  He went to officer candidate school, found his faith in God, and gained the confidence to pursue his destiny.
 
 
     Bill Britt was not perfect.  In today’s world he would be labeled a homophobe and a misogynist.  It is the latter that sometimes hurt his image with fellow networkers.  One couple remembers him returning late at night from a large meal, including desert, and then ordering his wife to go to the kitchen to prepare banana pudding.  She obeyed.  Another remembers him suddenly, unexpectedly ordering his wife to step into the aisle of a restaurant and dance.  Again, she obeyed.
 
 
     As a city manager in Sanford and then Goldsboro he had his ups and downs.  And as a business investor he made some pretty big mistakes as well as some outstanding successes.  It was network marketing that worked for him and provided the steady stream of income to play with.
 
 
     Bill organized his leaders into an association that formed committees and created systems that allowed them to avoid many of the lawsuits and crisis that would come to other groups.
 
 
     If Bill was a showman onstage he always kept one foot out of the business as well.  He understood the reality outside the ballroom and the coliseum.  In 1989 I was working in the White House and arranged for him to come in to meet with the president in a Roosevelt Room meeting with twenty other leaders.  Britt wisely stripped the showy diamond rings off his fingers and blended in nicely.
 
 
     When it became apparent that they would not have children of their own, Peggy Britt wanted to adopt.  But Bill thought it was too late.   And so, his friends in network marketing became those children.  And they will be the ones who descend on the tiny little town of LaGrange next week to say goodbye to a legend.
 
 
 
     On short notice I couldn’t get to many of Bill’s friends and I am sorry for that.  Their comments and eulogies will follow in the days to come.  But here are a few loving thoughts from those I have been able to reach today.  Also see MLM Hall of Fame.
 
 
     John Crowe:  “Very few people have had an impact on me as deeply as he has.  He reinforced things I was brought up with.  Love of country.  He confronted me spiritually.  He was in your face.  Every one of us needs that sometime.
 
 
     Tim Goad: “People don’t realize that he loved to sing.  About a year ago we stopped by his place just to thank him for how he had influenced our lived and we ended up signing old hymns and songs and he sang too.”
 
 
     Bill Childers: “He was the star when we got in.  He was the one with the biggest organization under Yager.  He had John Crowe and Paul MIller and we were all were chasing them.
 
 
     Rex Renfro:  “He was very caring and tender hearted.  He could be tough but he could also cry.  I saw him go the extra mile, helping people, encouraging people. I have what I have today because of him.  He was strong.  When he believed in something he didn’t care who thought different.
 
 
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34 Responses to Bill Britt: Amway Legend

  1. Drew says:

    Thanks a bunch for sharing this. The Amway announcement only quoted from themselves. Never mentioned Yager or Congilaro or Nardone. This will mean a lot to many of us.

  2. Logan Standish says:

    Thanks for writing this. Thanks, thanks. God bless you.

  3. Thanks for this sad news. Many outside the business have naught a clue how personal leadership positively influences lives way beyond simple business objectives. The ripple effect of Bill’s teaching, and yours too, Doug, continues to touch lives.

  4. David McMann says:

    Mr.Britt brought to me a stronger example of understanding of how your soul prospers.
    Thank you for your example.
    David McMann

  5. Mike says:

    Thanks for the expanded story, Doug. Bill brought me and my wife to Christ at one of his Sunday services at a function back in 1995. I will be glad to thank him when I see him in heaven.

    • Baldeagle says:

      LIKWISE,MYFAVORITE QUOTEBY BILL.ICAN INEEDTO IWANT TO ,IWANNABEFREE,IWILLBEFREEWILLNOTBEDENIED THATSITPERIOD. Rip bb

  6. Dwight Parry Griggs says:

    Bill Britt changed my life as a man of Christ, I will miss his teaching and his leadership. He was a man that truly love God and the people upon this Earth.

  7. Baldeagle says:

    Amen

  8. False Prophets Shall Burn says:

    May that corrupt fat bastard burn in hell for all the lies and deceit he spewed. And for all the families he destroyed through his false promises and dreams.

    • Gman says:

      You sir “False Prophets Shall Burn”, are a cowardly, walking piece of junk that needs to get back into the government cheese line. Mr. Britt, may God bless you, rest in piece.

      • Gman says:

        Rest in peace* sir, you are an incredible leader and inspiration, in a world with so few real leaders.

  9. Kevin Harmon says:

    It was at a Britt/Worldwide function in Spokane that I came forward to an invitation to accept Jesus as my savior. While I haven’t built the business, and while he wasn’t a perfect man, I will always be grateful for this, as no other person ever extended that invitation. RIP Bill.

  10. Charles Chappell, Direct distributor says:

    I met him in 1981. He was a real leader, a man’s man. Bill was someone to look up to. He made a lot of sence, and he had character

  11. jetter56 says:

    Spring 1998, I attended a Spring Leadership in Portland Oregon. Sunday morning I was told I was going to the non-denominational church service. 3 hours later I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. thank you Bill Britt, Ron Puryear, Brad Duncan, David Shores, Rick Yokome.

  12. L clement says:

    Thanks for this blog, I was in the business in from 1972 to 2008

    Met this wonderful man in Atlanta, ga. what a man truly and a

    mans man, I was so lucky to be associated with Amway global

    It made me a better man for associating with great people..

    THANKS for what you have done for man kind,Doug…

  13. Mellie says:

    Wow..This morning my mind ran on Bill and Peggy Britt.. So I googled his name . Only to read this sad news. Well I will thank God for the good influence he had on me and my husband. I still quote some will ;some wont ; so what somewhere six will. Or somewhere some will.

  14. sivrajyaj says:

    Like Mellie, I stumbled on the news this morning sort of by accident. All sorts of thoughts came to mind, but suffice it to say Bill was used by God to help get my attention and change my life in my mid twenties. It was at one of Bill’s functions in 1982 that I gave my life to Jesus. While I never built a successful Amway business, the principles I learned from him and others he influenced concerning stewardship enabled me to enjoy a successful life, living debt free which led to an early retirement.

  15. Zamna Garner says:

    I have just read that Bill Britt died..I am deeply sadden..he was truly a man of God and awakened me to so many truths as I listened to him at the many WWDB functions…rest in peace my friend until we meet again..

  16. Tim says:

    Just found this after a conversation with others whom spent time in his organization.
    I learned to stand on my own beliefs from people like Bill, So Sorry he has passed, but so glad I met him in my life.
    We never know whom we are going to impact with each person we meet or hand we touch. I would not be a speaker today had I not met people like Bill Britt and Rex Renfro

  17. Velda Ijomah says:

    I was just asking my Huband about Bill and Peggy.. he googled and quickly alerted me of his Demise…My heart weep for his family.. I have met Bill in several business conventions we had.. he was just a man of God, who not only Loves God, But talks about him in public..Seldom will you see rich people giving praises to God Almighty.. May the good Lord continue to keep his wife Peggy and May Bill’s soul RIP Amen !! Farewell !

  18. mr.c says:

    its been awhile and I too was thinking of him and google. Amazing its true “ONE MAN CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE” if we are greatful for each day and make the best of what we have, help someone in some way life can be beautiful. He never knew me but his teaching and advise has help me to grow in my spiritual life, family life, and personal life.

  19. Jim Britt says:

    Doug Jim Britt here Bill Britt’s brother we have met a couple of occasions at some of functions of Bills, organization, I just wanted to let you know that the article you wrote about Bill Britt: Amway Legend in paragraph 7 should be corrected for the starting of the motivational cassettes was started when I moved up to Carrboro North Carolina and was living with Bill & Peggy when they first started their Amway business. I handled stocking, shipping and receiving of the Amway products and I had cassette duplicators made by Recordex from Atlanta, GA lined up on the walls of the bedroom I slept in and I would stay up nights duplicating tapes with the most popular at the time was a cassette by Dexter Yager named AM-13 as Bill & Peggy’s business grew and then he was able to but the property at 812 Kenmore Rd. in Chapel Hill we moved the duplicators to the basement bought more duplicators and increased production and as the business grew even more and they purchased the property next door at 820 Kenmore Rd. we purchased more duplicators and hired our other brother Bobby Britt to start running the duplicators in the basement of this property as the cassette industry grew in the early 80’s we moved the business to a location at 110 W. Main Street in Carrboro NC and thus AMI was born at that time our other brother Eddie Britt and his wife Cindy Britt got involved in helping run the cassette business then as technology changed we purchased duplicators made by Otari and purchased equipment to automatically put the labels on the tapes instead of labeling them by hand, after that Bill started a publication named the Lamplighter and thus we purchased printing equipment for this and printing marketing brochures, after this again as technology changed and cassette tapes went by the wayside and cd’s took over we purchased cd duplicators and as the business outgrew the location we were in Bill purchased a location in Burlington, NC and shortly after that is when Richard Clark got involved for we started doing the sounds systems for the conventions and seminars and this was Richards expertise, as the business grew Richard took over and I went to run the offices for the Britt Organization when Amway opened in Mexico, I stayed their 4 years and then Amway expanded to South America and I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina to run the office their and corrdinate the meetings and seminars, in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chili. I lived in Argentina for 3 years and returned to the United States in 1998 and 2 days later I was at Bill’s house in Chapel Hill and started having strange feelings in the upper part of my body Bill called the paramedic’s and they came out and did an EKG on me and called the hospital at UNC and they suggested that I come to the hospital so we got in the car and Bill drove me to the UNC Hospital and as I was walking in the hospital door I felt something in my heart explode and it was what they called and aortic dissection which only 1 out of 10 people live through so in essence Bill saved my life, but just for the record the motivational tapes was my idea.

    Regards, Jim Britt

  20. John Baker says:

    Bill Britt changed the way I see America and my relationship with God. Thank you, Bill. I know you are walking the streets of gold now.

  21. Tim Anderson says:

    I want to leave a legacy. This I know for sure. Good article Doug !

  22. Maruj Carr says:

    Doug I was one of the attendees for a dinner with Pat Boone at the white house with then President Reagan. Thank you very much… It was awesome.
    Bill Britt is a legend and a very compassionate Christian. Winners loved him losers hated him, nothing in between. He is very well missed in the organization…

    Good article Doug, Thank you very much.

  23. Thank you for this deeply insightful post.

  24. Brian Chalsma says:

    Bill brought me to Christ at one of his Sunday services at a function back in the early 1990’s. He is one man who made a huge difference in my life, changed my family to a very positive Christ centered focus for generations to come. Today I still teach the truths Bill taught me. I will be so glad to thank him when I see him in heaven.

  25. Joshua Heising says:

    I’m not in Quixtar/Amway anymore, haven’t been in a while, but when I was I had the opportunity of meeting Bill on two separate, short occasions. He was a mans man, a leader among leaders, a compassionate Christian, and a fierce fighter.

    It is with great sorrow that I just now learned of his passing. Though I don’t plan to follow in his MLM footsteps, I am thankful for the role he played in the development of my character. I hope to continue living with the same passion and conviction I learned from him.

  26. Bernard says:

    Hi I was sponsored in Australia and had the opportunity to meet Bill Britt in the Czech Republic. I was 40 levels deep from Dominick and Pat Coniguliro. Over time people in my line of sponsorship dropped out and after many decades I soon became personally sponsored by Dom and Pat. I love Dom and Pat and although they are no longer in amway they thought me to respect those that had built massive business. Spending time with Bill will forever be etched in. My mind. He taught you to stand up for your dreams and make a difference. I have many stories of Bill but I must say it was the time I spent with Dominick that truly changed my life. Forever grateful Bernard.

  27. Anthony Calise says:

    Is there a way that I can buy old tapes from the business? Britt himself, but also Larry winters. John Crowe , David Taylor brad Duncan Joe marcewics

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