Brief Biographical Sketch
Melvyn N. Klein is a Corpus Christi resident who has made exceptional contributions to his community, to the great State of Texas, and the nation.
Mel was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent his childhood in Indiana. He graduated second in his class in high school in Indiana and entered Colgate University in 1959, where he worked his way through college in addition to receiving a General Motors National Scholarship. He was the New York State College Debating Champion in his junior year and, accordingly, ranked high in the nation. In 1963, Mel graduated from Colgate with Highest Honors in Economics. He went on to earn a law degree (Juris Doctor) from Columbia Law School, where he was also named an International Fellow of the University and received the Edward John Noble Leadership Award. He did further graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, concentrating in international economics and politics.
After graduation, Mel was a legislative assistant to U.S. Congressman Sidney Yates of Chicago, an international economist in the U.S. Department of Commerce assigned to the Office of the U.S. Special Trade Representative, and an associate at McKinsey & Co. He was the first person to become a member of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey’s presidential national campaign staff in March of 1968.
Mel became a senior partner of the Wall Street investment firm of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette (subsequently merged with Credit Suisse). He was one of the few people who initiated and built the firm’s investment banking business domestically and internationally. He concentrated on the entertainment and health care industries. He originated the idea of creating capital pools for principal investing and was the first to propose the creation of one of the earliest direct equity investment funds; this began the era of leveraged buyout funds and private equity funds of which he was an originator and pioneer. Klein’s vision transformed an important part of the U.S. financial structure in the final quarter of the twentieth century and the twenty-first century to date.
Mel became a leading entrepreneur, investor, and attorney who has been actively involved in capital formation and investment, building companies into market leaders and creating significant shareholder value for more than thirty years.
Mel's principal business partners for over thirty years were Dan Lufkin and Tom and Jay Pritzker. Jay Pritzker was the founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain and sponsor of the prestigious Pritzker Architectural Prize, which is the Nobel Prize equivalent in architecture. Their partnerships included GKH Partners, L.P., which was the other bidder for RJR Nabisco, history’s largest financial buy-out, and is featured in Barbarians at the Gate, which was a #1 New York Times Bestseller. Mel was the Managing General Partner of GKH, which was a co-founder of Tenet Healthcare, Savoy Pictures Entertainment, Inc. (merged with IAC Interactive and its spin-off Expedia, Inc.), and Hanover Compressor Company, (the world’s largest independent natural gas compression company), predecessor of Exterran and Archrock, and Santa Fe Energy Resources, Inc. (merged in part with Chevron and in part with Devon Energy). Mel was President and Chief Executive Officer of two American Stock Exchange –listed companies – Altamil Corp. and Eskey, both of which were successfully built and sold. Mel also co-founded a number of companies, including the energy company Eskey, Inc. He served as a Director and member of the Executive Committee of Levitz Furniture Corporation until it became a private company; he participated in that successful leveraged buy-out and subsequent sale.
Mel has served on the boards of directors and executive committees of many other private and public companies including Anixter International (NYSE), Damson Oil (merged into Pioneer Natural Resources), American Medical International, Inc. (merged with Tenet Healthcare), UGHC/Arcus (subsequently partially sold to Koch Industries, Inc.-Flint Hill Resources, L.P. and the balance merged with Iron Mountain) and Playboy Enterprises, Inc. Mel is the Founder of Melvyn N. Klein Interests and Director of Harbert, Inc. and JAKK Holding Corp. He is a Member of the Bar of the State of Texas and the District of Columbia. In 2014, Mel became Chairman of the Board of Par Pacific Holdings (NYSE).
Mel is the author of Our Time, published by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He has always been committed to the idea that hard work and perseverance, combined with being prepared to take risk, could lead to the realization of one’s dreams and goals. For this view and his accomplishments, he was elected a Member, and then also a Director of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. He is a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas and the World Presidents’ Organization.
Mel has contributed his energy, his experience, his resources, and his leadership ability to a great number of organizations and enterprises. For over 25 years, he has served the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as an active leader on its Board of Visitors and currently serves as its Chairman, the first person ever to so serve from Corpus Christi.
He is married to the former Annette Lorraine Grossman, and they have two children, Jacqueline and Jenna.