Henry L. Hillman
Henry L. Hillman
Henry L. Hillman was born in Pittsburgh in 1918 and died in 2017. He attended Princeton University, where he majored in geology. He entered the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked and became an aviator. He left the Navy at the end of the war and, in 1946, joined the Hillman organization, which then was headed by his father, J. H. “Hart” Hillman. Henry assumed leadership when his father died in 1959.
Henry took risks in business. Under his leadership, The Hillman Company sold its largely industrial operations and became a diversified investment company. One of the earliest investors in private equity funds, the company was a founding investor in the first funds of both Kleiner Perkins and Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts (KKR), betting on them before they had a track record. An early investor in Genentech, Tandem Computers, Hybritech, and other high-tech start-ups, The Hillman Company during the early 1980s was the largest single venture capital investor in the country.
During his career, Henry served on the boards of a number of public companies, including General Electric Company, Chemical Bank, Merck & Company, Cummins Engine, and PNC Financial Corp. Henry provided local civic leadership as well, serving as president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development from 1967 to 1970.
Henry stepped down from active management of The Hillman Company in 2004. As chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, he remained active in the company’s governance. He also took a very active role in the family’s philanthropic activities as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hillman Family Foundations.
In 1911, John Hartwell “Hart” Hillman, Jr. transformed his father’s business from a firm that brokered coal and coke to a successful, vertically integrated enterprise based on coal. This began a legacy of industry and investing that has enabled The Hillman Company to anticipate and capitalize on dramatic changes in financial history. Beginning in the 1960s, Hart’s son Henry L. Hillman boldly pivoted the company from its industrial origins into a diverse array of businesses and private equity investing—including companies and asset classes that have shaped the electronic and information age and the modern financial industry.
Today this dynamic history serves as a catalyst for The Hillman Company’s investments and relationships with leading equity funds throughout the world.