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James Robert Crane (born January 17, 1954) is an American businessman from Houston, Texas. Crane is chairman and chief executive of Crane Capital Group, the majority shareholder of Champion Energy, Crane Worldwide Logistics, and Crane Freight & Shipping. He is also the owner and chairman of the Houston Astros.[1]

Early life and educationEdit

Crane, who grew up in the north St. Louis suburb of Dellwood, Missouri, attended Lutheran High School North and graduated in 1972.[2] He gave the school a donation of $1 million to improve their athletic facilities and enlarge the size of the campus from 40 acres to 67 in 2004.[2][3] The school named the James R. Crane Athletic Complex for his contribution.[4]

Crane earned a degree in industrial safety from Central Missouri State University[5] (now the University of Central Missouri) in 1976, where he became a member of the fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. He pitched for the Central Missouri Mules baseball team.[6] Crane's father died between his freshman and second years, and he seriously thought about dropping out of college; however, his coach Robert N. Tompkins drove to his home in north St. Louis and talked Crane into returning to school.[7]

In 1998 Crane was the largest donor in a $1.2 million upgrade of the CMSU baseball stadium, which was then named James R. Crane Stadium.[8]

CareerEdit

After graduating from college he followed his father and went into the insurance business. He moved to Houston in 1980, and in March 1984 Crane borrowed $10,000 from his sister and founded Eagle USA Airfreight, an air freight logistics business.[7][9] In 2000, Eagle USA was subject of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation regarding hiring practices of minorities and women.[10]

Eagle USA Airfreight later became Eagle Global Logistics, and then EGL, Inc., and moved into the supply chain management and information services business. In August 2007 EGL merged with United Kingdom-based CEVA Logistics, owned by American private equity capital management and leveraged buyout firm Apollo Management L.P.. Crane owned approximately 17.6% of EGL's stock at the time of the merger. He had wanted to do a leveraged, management, or combination of the two, buyout of EGL, prior to the merger with CEVA, but was unable to obtain financing on acceptable terms. Later, after he obtained equity backing he initially offered $36 per-share for EGL, but Apollo then engaged in a bidding war and the shareholders eventually went with the Apollo/CEVA offer of $47.50 per share. He was opposed to the EGL and CEVA merger.[11]

Crane took his profits from EGL and formed Crane Capital Group. He also became a director and shareholder (less than 1%) in Western Gas Holdings, LLC, the general partner in Western Gas Partners, LP, a mid-stream (mainly pipelines and natural gas gathering assets) energy company operating in the southeastern Rocky Mountain region and southern Mid-Continent area (Oklahoma and Texas) of the United States. Western Gas Holdings and Western Gas Partners were acquired by Anadarko Petroleum.[9] Crane is also the majority shareholder in Crane Worldwide Logistics LLC.,[5] director of Fort Dearborn Life Insurance Company (a subsidiary of Health Care Service Corporation),[5] and a director and executive officer in Champion Energy Holdings LLC.

A scratch golfer, Crane has been ranked as the nation's top CEO golfer. In April 2010 he purchased The Floridian National Golf Club from Wayne Huizenga. The Floridian in Palm City, Florida recently completed major renovations and additions under the supervision of architect Tom Fazio.[citation needed]

Crane reached an agreement to purchase the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball from Drayton McLane for a reported $680 million.[12] He was unanimously approved by MLB on November 17, 2011.[13] MLB Commissioner Bud Selig intended for Houston to move from the 6-club National League Central to the 4-club American League West. Crane received $35 million bumps from McLane and the MLB in exchange for this league-change stipulation, which McLane had previously committed to.[14]

"It was two things (owning a team and golf course) that I never thought I would be able to accomplish," Crane mused at his Floridian National Golf Club's reopening. "I was able to pull it together and I am very happy about it."[15]

Personal lifeEdit

Crane and his ex-wife, Franci Neely Crane, are financial supporters of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.[16][17][18][19][20]

During the Memorial Day weekend in 2017, Crane married Whitney Wheeler. The ceremony took place at Crane's Floridian National Golf Club. This is Crane's third marriage. Crane and Wheeler have a son together, James Robert Crane II.[21] His son Jared is president of baseball operations for the Astros.[22]

Crane is a supporter of the Democratic Party and frequently golfs with former U.S. President Barack Obama.[23]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ McTaggart, Brian (November 22, 2011). "Crane group officially takes control of Astros: Ownership transfer from McLane completed on Tuesday". Major League Baseball. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Hollinshed, Denise (September 23, 2004), "School's expansion shows staying power", St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  3. ^ Miklasz, Bernie (May 21, 2011), "Bernie Bits: Cards producing plenty of surprises", St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  4. ^ "Sports Facilities". Lutheran High School North. Archived from the original on January 10, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c 10-K, Western Gas Partners LP, February 24, 2011
  6. ^ "Why Jim Crane Could Become Baseball's Most Controversial Owner". Forbes. June 14, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  7. ^ a b From Fanning Batters to World-Class Deals, Focus Pays Off for Jim Crane, University of Central Missouri, Winter 2006
  8. ^ James R. Crane Stadium/Robert N. Tompkins Field. – University of Central Missouri.
  9. ^ a b Form S-1, Western Gas Partners, LP, January 23, 2008
  10. ^ "EEOC report assails Eagle hiring practices". Houston Chronicle. May 5, 2000. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  11. ^ SCHEDULE 14A, EGL, Inc., June 26, 2007
  12. ^ "Ultimate Astros " Jim Crane has 'constructive' meeting with Bud Selig". Houston Chronicle. October 10, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  13. ^ "Jim Crane Unanimously Approved as New Astros Owner", The Sporting News, November 17, 2011
  14. ^ "Sale of Astros to Jim Crane, move to American League in 2013 approved". Major League Baseball. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  15. ^ "PHOTO GALLERY: Renovated Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City draws rave reviews". Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  16. ^ Members of the planned giving societies at the MFAH, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  17. ^ MFAH Leadership Circle (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, January 6, 2011[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Arts of Asia, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, archived from the original on October 28, 2011
  19. ^ Turkey 'Ud (Lute), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, archived from the original on May 28, 2012
  20. ^ Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  21. ^ Baldwin, Chris. "Mega Millionaire Astros Owner Jim Crane Gets Married in a Dreamy, Fantasyland Wedding".
  22. ^ https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/astros/article/Astros-reassign-Reid-Ryan-new-role-Jared-Crane-14817687.php
  23. ^ https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/11/02/astros-white-house-visit-donald-trump