John C. Merritt ’61
Owner and President of Dockside Marine Supply; Former Chairman and CEO of Van Kampen Merritt Holding Corp.
Jack Merritt became an entrepreneur out of necessity.
"Money was tight when I was at Babson," he says, "and one of the few ways of getting more was to have your own business." With two classmates, Merritt founded a laundry business on campus and launched his entrepreneurial career. "That was back in the days when we had to wear shirts and ties to class," he laughs, "so ours became a booming business."
Following his graduation in 1961, Merritt went to work with Drexel and Company as a municipal bond analyst. In 1965 he transferred to Philadelphia to take charge of Drexel's municipal underwriting and trading activities. Seven years later, Merritt joined Butcher & Singer where he was responsible for creating the first state insured bond fund, as well as the first state open-end managed tax-exempt bond fund. He was later named president of Butcher & Singer Asset Management Corporation. In that capacity Merritt headed the portfolio buying area for the company's state open-end fund. In 1976, he left his position to become the Marketing Director of Butcher & Singer and head of the newly created Unit Trust Division. He believed that packaged products were the wave of the future for individual investors and that marketing, an often overlooked aspect of Wall Street, was the key to success. In addition to other creations, he was the first to package a state managed mutual fund.
Eager to try new ventures, Merritt joined Robert Van Kampen in founding their own firm in 1980. As president of Van Kampen Merritt, he developed the underwriting, marketing, and Easter Seabord unit trust business for the firm. His unique concept of manufacturing products for regional investment banking firms became highly regarded and successful.
In 1983, Van Kampen Merritt was acquired by Xerox Corporation. Today, the company retains its original name while a member of Xerox Financial Services and Merritt has become its chairman and chief executive officer.