Preferred Shares
Preferred Shares Podcast
Henry Crown and Material Service Corporation

Henry Crown and Material Service Corporation

Welcome to Episode 12 of the Preferred Shares Podcast.

In this episode—the third in our series on the beneficiaries of the spending on the interstate highway system of the United States—Preferred Shares does a deep dive into the life of businessman and investor, Henry Crown.

In this episode

  • Henry Crown is born in Chicago in 1896 to a family of poor immigrants.

  • Henry and his brother Sol started Material Service Corporation (MSC) in 1919.

  • Henry enlists as a Lt. Colonel in the Army in WWII and is awarded the Legion of Merit at the end of the war.

  • Three outstanding investments outside of MSC during the 1940s and 1950s: defaulted bonds of the Rock Island railroad; Hilton; and the Empire State building.

  • Henry sells MSC to General Dynamics (GD) in 1959, is ousted from GD in 1966, and then acquires a 20% stake in GD in 1969 after GD’s share price tanks.

  • Henry retires from GD’s board at the age of 89 in 1986.

  • Henry dies in 1990 at the age of 94. The Crown family is worth billions.

Aerial photo of downtown Chicago looking west on April 19th, 1930. Courtesy of Bldg. 51 archive and Urban Remains.
MSC bond offering advertised in Chicago Daily Tribune, October 25, 1928 (click for larger image)
Nov. 3, 1952, TIME magazine
Concrete (trade publication), September, 1959
Henry Crown, 1986, General Dynamics World

Episode Resources

Additional Reading

Curious to see what else we’ve been working on? Below are some pieces we’ve written independently that we think you’d like:

"Going South: Implications of Business and Population Migration", a whitepaper by Douglas Ott (Andvari Associates) and Lawrence Hamtil (Fortune Financial) published June 2024.

Enjoy this episode? Share it with someone who loves business history as much as you do!

You can also follow Preferred Shares, Devin, Doug, and Lawrence on Twitter.



All opinions expressed by Preferred Shares hosts and guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinions of their respective employers. This podcast is for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. None of the information contained in the podcast or this web site constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.

Clients of Andvari and Fortune Financial may maintain positions in the securities discussed in this podcast. Furthermore, from time to time, the Hosts may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Podcast and may trade for their own accounts based on the information presented. The Hosts may also take positions inconsistent with the views expressed in its messages on the Podcast.