Tanenbaum was born to a Jewish family, son of Max (owner of York Steel) and Anne Tanenbaum. and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Cornell University in 1968.
In recognition of his contributions in the areas of philanthropy, business and volunteerism, Tanenbaum was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada on October 25, 2007. The Order of Canada is the centrepiece of Canada’s honors system and represents its highest civilian award.
In June 2012, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, by St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto.
Tanenbaum is currently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited, having served as President & CEO from 1968 to 2000. Under his direction Kilmer developed into a multi-faceted civil engineering construction company whose operating divisions and subsidiaries covered road building and paving, ready-mix concrete, aggregates, heavy construction, trucking and pipe manufacturing. The heavy construction operations included projects in Canada, the United States and South America and specialized in constructing subways, elevated transit system guideways, bridges and tunnels including the design-build of the Toronto Zoo elevated transit system, the elevated transit system in Miami and subways in Caracas, Atlanta, Calgary and Toronto. In 1984 this unit was merged with Canadian Foundation Company Ltd. which itself was later merged with Bannister International. From that time through December 2000 Kilmer’s road building, paving and aggregates operations were conducted through Kilmer’s wholly owned subsidiary, The Warren Paving & Materials Group Limited. Tanenbaum served as Chairman of Warren, which, until its merger with Lafarge North America, was Canada’s largest asphalt paving and aggregate company with operations serving approximately 54 communities. Warren’s activities also included major commercial aggregates operations, liquid asphalt trading and distribution and road maintenance. In December 2000 Warren was merged into Lafarge North America Inc., North America’s largest diversified construction materials company and supplier of cement, aggregates and concrete, and other materials for residential, commercial, institutional and public works construction in the United States and Canada. As a result of this merger, Kilmer became a significant shareholder in Lafarge NA, and Tanenbaum served on the Board and chaired its Finance Committee until the 2006 buyout by Lafarge SA. Kilmer today manages infrastructure investments through Kilmer Brownfield Equity Fund LP, Quickload CEF Inc., Host Kilmer Service Centres Inc. (ONroute), and DundeeKilmer (PanAm Village Development).
From 1975 to 1994 Tanenbaum served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of CUC Broadcasting Limited in which Kilmer was a significant shareholder. At the time of its sale in 1994 CUC was Canada’s fifth largest cable company. CUC was also a key participant in the introduction of cable television in the United Kingdom. Other operations included paging, publishing, satellite, and radio broadcasting.
Tanenbaum has had a long-standing interest in the sports and entertainment area and to that end in 1991 he spearheaded the effort to bring an NBA franchise to Toronto. In 1996, an interest was acquired in the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club and arena. In 1998 Tanenbaum was an active force in the acquisition of the Toronto Raptors basketball team and the Air Canada Centre, which, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, formed Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which as of 2015 he owns 25% of through Kilmer. Tanenbaum is Chairman of MLSE, and is a Governor and serves on the Executive Committee of the NHL (Toronto Maple Leafs), the NBA (Toronto Raptors), and Major League Soccer (Toronto FC). He is a member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario. On 20 May 2015 it was announced that Kilmer had acquired an ownership stake in the Toronto Argonauts in partnership with Bell Media, with the deal to close at the end of the year.
Kilmer also has significant investment in various other sports-related entities, including Insight Sports Ltd, which is a leading sports media company involved in the creation, production and broadcasting, on all platforms, of sports and related lifestyle content. Insight Sports holds equity positions in several Canadian specialty television services including The NHL Network and owns and/or operates the World Fishing Network (WFN) and Game TV.
In addition, Tanenbaum serves as Chairman of Kilmer Capital Partners, a private equity investment fund, which provides equity capital to small to mid-market companies, and is dedicated to building leading companies in partnership with management. Kilmer Capital’s portfolio includes Algorithme Pharma Inc., Coalision, Atelka, English Bay Enterprises Inc. and Compact Power.
Tanenbaum served as National Revenue Chair of the Liberal Party of Canada during Prime Minister Paul Martin’s term of office. He currently serves as a member of the Ontario Investment and Trade Advisory Council and a member of the Advisory Council, Toronto Board of Trade. He recently served as a member of the Advisory Committee, Toronto Prosperity Initiative, and as a member of the Independent Fiscal Review Panel of the City of Toronto, and the Mayor’s Economic Competitiveness Advisory Committee of the City of Toronto.
Tanenbaum’s involvement in Community Associations includes the following: Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors, Mount Sinai Hospital – a tertiary care teaching hospital associated with the University of Toronto; Co-Chairman of the Research Board for the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute; Member, Board of Directors, Brain Canada; Member, University Council, Cornell University; Member, Advisory Board, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care; Member of the Advisory Board, Montreal Neurological Institute; Member, Dean’s Advisory Council, Schulich School of Business, York University; Founding Board Member, Right to Play; Founding Member, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs; and Co-Chair, Tomorrow Campaign (UJA).
He is married, and has two daughters and one son.
Max Tanenbaum (1909-1983) was father of Larry Tanenbaum and who founded of York Steel, which he began after leaving family owned Runnymede Iron and Steel Company (founded by grandfather Abraham and lead by brother Joseph)