In-N-Out owner is nation's youngest woman billionaire

innout2.jpgShe's 30-year-old Lynsi Torres, who according to Bloomberg's Seth Lubove has little formal management training and no college degree, took control of the iconic burger chain after several family deaths. In-N-Out was founded in 1948 in Baldwin Park by her grandparents, Harry and Esther Snyder, and since the privately held company is really private, Lubove could only put together bits and pieces about Torres. That includes the $17.4 million purchase of a 16,600-square-foot mansion in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. She has been married three times and competes in National Hot Rod Association races (her most visible activity). Torres is among dozens of "hidden" billionaires that Bloomberg reporters have discovered.

Torres's grandmother Esther -- Harry's widow -- maintained control of the company until her death in 2006 at age 86. When she died, Torres was the sole family heir. She now controls the company through a trust that gave her half ownership when she turned 30 last year, and will give her full control when she turns 35. The company has no other owners, according to an Arizona state corporation commission filing. Few in the restaurant industry have met or know much about the hamburger heiress. "I have no clue about her," said Janet Lowder, a Rancho Palos Verdes, California, restaurant consultant, who said she was one of the few people to extract the company's internal finances from Esther Snyder in the 1980's for industry-wide surveys. "I was even surprised there was a granddaughter."


The company's pace of expansion was one of the issues at stake in an exchange of lawsuits in 2006 between Torres, In-N- Out executives and Richard Boyd, the company's former vice president of real estate and development. Boyd was one of two trustees overseeing the trust that controls the company's stock on behalf of Torres. Among other allegations filed in California state court in Los Angeles, Boyd claimed Torres and Mark Taylor -- her brother- in-law from a half-sister -- conspired to remove Esther Snyder from the company to gain control of In-N-Out. He filed a separate petition with the probate court seeking to prevent Torres from removing him as a trustee.Torres denied the allegations in both a formal answer to Boyd's complaint and a 2006 letter to the editor published in the Los Angeles Times, in which she said she only had "minimal involvement" in the company's business decisions, and didn't favor rapid expansion.

The chain has been expanding in recent years, with openings in Texas, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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