Owner and Chairman
On November 17, 2011, when Major League Baseball unanimously approved the purchase of the Houston Astros by a group headed by Houston businessman Jim Crane, a new era of Astros baseball began.
As the new Owner and Chairman, Jim Crane hit the ground running upon taking control of the Astros by immediately putting his plan to rebuild the franchise into place. As a highly-successful businessman in Houston and former standout college pitcher, Jim has the credentials to make the Astros a winning team both on and off the field.
From the start, Jim has been clear about his goals: To make the Astros a ballclub that can have sustained success at the Major League level by building a top-notch farm system, and to provide Astros fans with an outstanding experience at Minute Maid Park.
As a Houstonian, Jim shares the same passion for the Astros as its fans and is dedicated to bringing those fans the World Series championship that they deserve.
During the last two offseasons, Jim hosted several sessions with Astros season ticket holders and loyal fans at Minute Maid Park to receive feedback on a variety of issues. As a result, several new, fan-friendly initiatives were put into place, including a reduction in ticket prices of thousands of seats and rebates for season ticket holders. Under Jim's leadership, the Astros also used fan feedback to help design the popular new uniforms and logo that were unveiled in November. Jim and the front office team will hold similar sessions in the coming year to keep the momentum going and further improve the fan experience at Minute Maid Park.
The Early Years
Jim hails from St. Louis, Missouri, where he became a loyal, spirited fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. As a teenager, he caddied for members of the Cardinals team at local golf clubs and parked cars for patrons at Cardinals games. Jim was impressed by the caring, family atmosphere on the Cardinals team and the team's close ties with the local community. He has carried these values forward throughout his life in business, philanthropic and personal relationships.
Passion For The Game
As a young man, Jim put his innate passion for baseball into action at Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri), where he was a standout pitcher for the Mules from 1973 -76 under the late, revered coach, Robert Tompkins. He had a four-year record of 21-8 with an earned-run average of 2.42, and ranks first in career complete games (23), first in career shutouts (7) and third in career strikeouts (215). Jim still holds the Mules' single-game strikeout record with 18, and in 1997, was inducted into the Central Missouri State University Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jim was the primary underwriter of a $1.2-million renovation in 1998 of the old Mules Field on the University of Central Missouri campus. On January 21, 1998, the facility was renamed the James R. Crane Stadium/Robert N. Tompkins Field in honor of Jim and his beloved coach. Jim continues to contribute to the college annually to provide athletic scholarships for Mules baseball.
Jim earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial safety from Central Missouri State University in 1976. This led to a loss control job evaluating commercial risks for an insurance company and then a move to Houston in 1982, where he entered the freight forwarding business.
Success In The Business World
In March 1984, at the age of 30 and with $10,000 borrowed from his sister, Jim founded Eagle USA Airfreight (EGL, Inc.). In his first office located in Houston with a sole employee, Jim handled the loading and trucking himself. The company made money in its first month, and Jim ultimately built it into an organization of more than 10,000 employees with 400-plus facilities in 139 countries. EGL was named one of Houston's "Best Places to Work," and reached #599 on the Fortune 1000 list during Jim's tenure. Jim has been the recipient of a long list of awards and honors for his entrepreneurial activities and business successes. The company was acquired in an LBO transaction that closed August 2007.
In August of 2008, Jim formed Crane Worldwide Logistics (CWL), a premier global provider of customized transportation and logistics services. CWL continues to grow rapidly with experienced members of Jim's management team and sales force at the helm. The four-year-old company made in excess of $600 million in sales in 2011.
Jim is the owner of Champion Energy Services, which ranks in the top five nonutility-affiliated retail electric providers in the United States and among the top 20 retail electricity companies in the nation and is also CEO and President of Crane Capital Group, Inc.
As Astros Owner and Chairman, Jim has embraced the opportunity to give back to the City of Houston and beyond. One of his first initiatives was the creation of the Astros Community Leaders Program, which is a collaboration between the Houston Astros and Houston-based corporations, and the City of Houston, Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. This ambitious endeavor will contribute close to $18.0 million to the city over a five-year period to build or refurbish youth baseball and softball fields in disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the city and purchase equipment, uniforms and more. The first fields affected by the Community Leaders Program are scheduled to be completed this spring.
Jim personally developed the Community Leaders program, which offers corporations the opportunity to partner with the Astros and the Astros in Action Foundation to become part of a team that will improve several city neighborhoods through the game of baseball. The program will also train and employ recent military veterans to help oversee and maintain the newly-refurbished facilities.
"Baseball was very important to my own development," said Jim. "Playing baseball made me a lot more confident and comfortable in my ability to achieve things. I'd like to be able to help more kids get the opportunity I had through baseball."
His love of baseball is unabated, and he has added the game of golf to his athletic endeavors. With a .08 handicap, he was ranked as the number one CEO Golfer among Fortune 1000 companies in 2006 by Golf Digest.
Jim acquired the Floridian, a private golf resort in Palm City, Florida, in 2010, which he recently had refurbished. On Feb. 3, the Floridian hosted a charity tournament, during which Jim played with golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
Jim and his wife, Franci, reside in Houston.