In Memorium: Entrepreneurs Who Died in 2009

Los Angeles Times
10 of 30

John Barry, CEO of WD-40

Barry had a simple, two-part business strategy: Make it simple, and make it all-purpose. When he took over the Rocket Chemical Company in 1969, the firm made rust-fighting lubricants but had less than $1 million in annual sales. Barry slashed the product line to one—WD-40—and refused to position the product as being a fit for any particular industry; it was consequently adopted for a wide range of purposes. Barry was his product’s biggest fan: He once threw a fit during a visit to his company’s ad agency upon discovering a squeaky gate untreated by his product, which brought in $317 million in revenue in 2008.