Tom Petters, then and now
- October 25, 2008 - 4:40 PM
Born: Thomas J. Petters, July 11, 1957
Hometown: St. Cloud
Education: 1975 graduate of Cathedral High School, St. Cloud
1973: Opens Ear Electronics to sell stereo equipment from a rented office in downtown St. Cloud. A junior in high school, he advertises through fliers on cars in local high schools and colleges.
1980s: Joins Schaak Electronics in St. Cloud; eventually leaves to run a regional consumer electronics chain in Colorado. Buys five stores in Colorado and Kansas when the firm goes bankrupt.
1988: Starts Amicus Trading Group, which later becomes the Petters Co., to buy and resell overstock, discontinued and damaged retailer inventory.
1995: Opens Petters Warehouse Direct stores. Sells them to managers five years later, but buys them back in 2005.
1999: Forms RedtagBiz.com Inc., an Internet wholesaler, which becomes Redtag Inc., in 2000.
2000: Petters and Ted Deikel start BoomBuy, an Internet company. The store closes in 2003.
2002: Petters and Deikel buy Fingerhut. Petters then becomes a major investor in the firm.
2003: Petters Group Worldwide buys uBid Inc. Petters sells majority ownership in 2005 when uBid goes public.
2004: Petters' son, John T. Petters, is stabbed to death in Italy in March while on a study-abroad trip from Ohio University at Miami. Tom Petters creates a nonprofit foundation named after his son to fund international scholarship.
2005: Buys Polaroid Holding Co. for $426 million.
2006: Buys 50 percent of Sun Country Airlines with Whitebox Advisors, a Twin Cities investment firm. Petters increases his stake in Sun Country to 80 percent over the next year.
Aug. 14, 2008: Acorn Capital Group, Greenwich, Conn., files a federal lawsuit in New York accusing Petters of defaulting on $273 million in loans.
Sept. 8, 2008: Deanna Coleman, 42, vice president of operations for Petters Co. Inc., approaches the government and alleges that Petters has been running a massive investor fraud scheme since about 1995.
Sept. 24, 2008: Federal investigators raid Petters' home and offices.
© 2015 Star Tribune