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Arthur Carlsberg, 32, of Los Angeles, has earned $5,000,000 in the business in which fortunes have traditionally been made fastest: real estate. He is chairman of Rammco Investment Corp., a Southern California land-investment firm that has shown a canny ability to pick farmland plots that later boom into building sites. Exuberant demand for choice landwhich has helped send the price of housing sites in the U.S. up 15% annually during the 1960senables a land speculator to multiply his money in a hurry.
At the University of Southern California ('53), Carlsberg ran a profitable entertainment magazine, then began renovating old houses and investing his savings in land. He was fascinated by the fast spiral in prices, but astounded to discover that few experts thoroughly researched the factors that made values soar. Says he: "Ninetynine percent of the real estate agents didn't know what they were talking about."
He decided to remedy that. To analyze potential investment land, he began compiling a store of 14 statistics about undeveloped areas, including such basics as the value of industrial payrolls and proximity to railroads, airports, highways and utilities. By applying his techniques to a business that is usually short on facts and long on rumors, Carlsberg collected his first million well before reaching 30.
Last year he joined with two other millionaire land investors, Bernard Selwyn and Herbert Edwards, both 42, to form Rammco. The company's aim: to make money by letting other investors in on the land boom. The partners buy up huge plots in Southern California, then sell chunks to investors and manage the land for them until its value rises and the owners sell out to other investors. Rammco earns its profit by charging a 10% commission on each transaction, now manages $50 million worth of land.
Merlyn Francis Mickelson, 38, of Minneapolis, a high school dropout and former disk jockey, has exploited a high degree of ability in a specialized technical field. He is president and 75% owner of Fabri-Tek Inc., a $16 million-a-year company that is the nation's largest manufacturer of memory cores for computers. His stock holdings in the firm are worth $47 million.
Born on a drought-stricken Minnesota farm, Mickelson quit high school in 1943, joined the merchant marineand was sent into radio training. That led to a succession of postwar jobs as radio-station engineer, broadcaster, electronics technician. In 1953 he joined Remington Rand and was put to work designing memory cores for Univac. Computers were in their infancy, and a skilled designer could quickly make a mark in the field.
Authorities at the federally subsidized Argonne National Laboratories outside Chicago heard of Mickelson's expertise in this narrow specialty, invited him in 1955 to start building experimental computer parts, offered to supply the raw materials. Mickelson figured that the demand for memory cores would be so great that even a small firm could cash in on it. He set up Fabri-Tek in his basement, working nights and weekends while he held his daytime job at Remington Rand. His total investment in the new company was for "some wire, solder, tweezers, and a little pair of nippersaltogether $7.21."