Phillip L. Rinaldi, founder and former chief executive officer of Coffeyville Resources, an oil refining and nitrogen chemicals business, will receive New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.
Rinaldi, a Bridgewater resident who graduated from NJIT in 1968, will be honored during the university’s annual benefit dinner, called Celebration, held Nov. 4, 2005 at the Pleasantdale Chateau, West Orange.
Proceeds from the dinner will benefit students enrolled in the Albert Dorman Honors College at NJIT. Many of the students are the first in their families to attend college and rely upon merit and need-based scholarships. The Dorman Honors College, founded in 1995, enrolls more than 500 students who are offered special classes, seminars and colloquia by distinguished professors. The proceeds will endow scholarships to support an additional 100 Dorman students. Dorman’s mission is to transform students into leaders in their fields.
“Rinaldi’s career exemplifies leadership, and he is a role model not only for the Dorman students but for the entire student body at NJIT,” said Jacquelynn Rhodes, associate vice president for development at NJIT.
In June of 2005 Rinaldi’s career as an entrepreneur in the energy and natural- resource industries reached a pinnacle when he sold Coffeyville Resources, of Coffeyville, Kansas, to another firm at six times its purchase price. The transaction was hailed at the time as one of the most profitable in the history of oil refining.
Coffeyville’s assets were acquired from the Chapter 11 liquidation of the country’s largest cooperative, Farmland Industries. The assets held little appeal for investors, since oil refiners could not get past the refinery’s erroneous negative reputation. But Rinaldi understood the potential of Coffeyville; he was one of the few entrepreneurs who had the technological expertise to understand the industry. To pursue this acquisition, Phil and his long-time oil trading colleague, Al Kaplan, partnered with Pegasus Capital Partners, a private equity fund that specializes in complex transactions, to form Coffeyville Resources, LLC. The bankruptcy court approved Coffeyville Resources as the bidder and the purchase was approved in 2003.
Rinaldi, Coffeyville Resources’ founding CEO, made the firm profitable, establishing early production rates and efficiency records, and implementing a reorganization of the commercial structure in both the refining and nitrogen sectors. Less than 16 months from its creation, Coffeyville Resources, a profitable, $1.8 billion a year business, was sold – at a profit measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The story of the acquisition and the sale of Coffeyville embody the characteristics that have typified all of Rinaldi’s entrepreneurial business transactions. He has excelled at seeing value in assets that others have overlooked, finding ways to enhance the value of those assets, and then showcasing them in a way that attracts premium value buyers.
Rinaldi’s career began at Exxon, where he gained a comprehensive business foundation and managerial experience in the international oil business.
But he attributes much of his success to the stability of his working-class background. He was raised in Belleville, among thousands of post-war families, where immigrant grandparents searched for opportunity and parents weathered the Great Depression and World War II. One of the overarching themes in Rinaldi’s family was the value of hard work and the importance of education. In honor of his parents, Rinaldi has endowed the Louis and Marie Carmella Rinaldi Scholarship, which is given to NJIT students who live in Belleville.
Rinaldi credits his technological expertise in large part to the education he received at the Newark College of Engineering at NJIT, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1968 and a master’s degree in chemical engineering in 1976. During his college years, Phil was an outstanding member of the campus community, displaying his natural ability to lead. He was president of the NJIT class of 1968 and of his fraternity – Theta Chi – as well as president of the Inter-fraternity Council at NJIT. He continues to serve NJIT as an active member of the Board of Overseers, to which he was elected in 1999. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Susan; they have two sons, Marcus and Julian, and one grandchild, Dominic Rinaldi.