Cheerful attitude after 75 years in business
By Dirk Webb
Photo courtesy of Dale Pickett
Kleinhenn Company, Inc.
PO Box 700
Anderson, IN 46015
If your child or grandchild gave you a Christmas gift this season that was purchased through their school’s “Holiday Fair,” “Gingerbread House” or 1,000 other type venues across the country, chances are the product was distributed through David Kleinhenn’s namesake establishment.
From their location on Main Street in Anderson, Kleinhenn Company spreads the optimism of Madison County business far beyond our borders. The venerable greeting card and school fundraising firm distributes wholesale products through its subsidiary, Cheerful House, to around 25,000 customers nationwide.
Kleinhenn’s actually started with David’s father, Melvin, who began distributing Greeting Cards from Gospel Trumpet in Anderson to school fund raisers all over the Mid-West. David Kleinhenn recalls, “The students would sell their items and earn a Bible. Later they would sell greeting cards to earn money for their school.”
After attending Anderson College (now Anderson University) and meeting his wife, Coila, Melvin started the business in the basement of their 7th Street home in Park Place in 1941. David recalls helping unload trucks of inventory there. Melvin moved the business to Crystal Street in 1955, and then finally to their current location on Main Street in 1960. Another long time Anderson based company, Duo Supply was also started by Melvin and later sold.
David Kleinhenn went to work for a CPA firm in northern Indiana for five years before his father made him “an offer I couldn’t refuse” in 1979. Says David about his father, “We never had a retirement party for him, though, because he never really retired.”
Today, Kleinhenn’s is still an industry leader in the warehousing and distribution of trophy components with school fund raising still being a significant part of its business.
Would you consider Madison County to be in the midst of sunrise? What does the business sunrise across the horizon look like to you?
"I can absolutely say we are in the midst of a sunrise. We’ve been through tough period of time but we are at a crucial point where we are redefining our business climate with new companies. It’s also a crucial time as our leadership attempts to define what the future looks like. I think the picture looks good.”
What does "A New Day" mean to you?
”We have the opportunity to shape the future. As opportunities come up, we’re open to change, embrace it and have a chance to make a positive effect on the area.”
How has your optimism helped you guide your company’s vision?
"You have to be optimistic in business. There is no other choice. You have to believe you can do things that will be successful understanding that not everything will work out. Change is inevitable but it seems change seems to happen faster now. I can tell you that to not change is a recipe for failure.”
Is your optimism ever threatened?
”I suppose everyone’s optimism is threatened from time to time but I honestly can’t remember when mine was significantly. By nature, if you’re not optimistic or don’t think you’ll succeed you’ll probably close your doors soon.”
If Optimism leads to achievement, what is it you hope your company will achieve in 2016?
“I have to come back to the fact that change is so inevitable. For a company like ours with a long history and some success it can be especially difficult to change. You hate to cannibalize what you’re doing. My hope is that we are open and adaptable in order to have the greatest success possible even if the change may be uncomfortable.”
If you were to have five minutes with someone who was considering relocating to Madison County what would you tell them?
”It’s an easy story to tell. A lot of outsiders prejudge Madison County based on news stories on the change with GM. If we get the opportunity we need to tell about the reinvention of our community. For our business where we are distributing around the country Madison County is perfect. We have to bring product in and move product out so it’s a great location to work from. We are, after all, ‘The Crossroads of America.’”
To view past award winners, or to read more about the awards, visit MCC's Wall of Fame.