CEO, Fortune Brands Home & Security
Chris Klein (BBA85) gives the Tippie College of Business the credit for much of his success. So when he and his wife, Elise, recently gave an outright gift of $100,000 to establish the Chris and Elise Klein Excellence Fund (and an additional $400,000 deferred gift), it was because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of another generation of students.
Klein began his studies at Iowa as a political science major, considering a law career. But after a year and a half, the courses, he says, “just weren’t exciting.” But he took an accounting and an economics course, and those “clicked” with him.
“Once I changed to a finance major, I knew I’d found a track I could run on,” he says. “Iowa was the first place where all of my aspirations came together. My time here was transformational, giving me a strong direction in my life, and it was the foundation for a lot of the success I’ve had. I even met my wife at Iowa our last semester senior year! When I graduated in 1985, it was a tough job market, but I took a position with a bank right after graduation. I was on my way,” he says.
Today, Klein is chief executive officer and board member of Fortune Brands Home & Security (NYSE:FBHS), which includes the operating divisions of such brands as Moen faucets, Master Brand cabinets, Simonton windows, Therma Tru doors, Master Lock padlocks, and Waterloo tool storage. Since taking over the Home and Security business in 2009, and taking the business public in 2011, Klein and his team have grown the business in the face of a tough housing market.
When his daughter enrolled at Iowa a few years ago, he reached out to the college to become reengaged with the school since he knew he’d be visiting Iowa City often. Over the years, Klein has served as a guest speaker in both undergraduate and MBA classes, and when the college asked him to serve on the Tippie Advisory Board he willingly said “yes.”
Immersed as he is in the life of the college and the university, Klein understands well the importance of unrestricted gifts to the college. The Kleins knew the college had many scholarship funds that support students, and because funding from the state is dwindling, their gift could give the college the flexibility to use the resources for current programs or for new initiatives.
“In Tippie Advisory Board meetings, Dean Gardial presents a strong vision for the college and the need for the college to evolve in order to better educate the next generation of students,” he says. “I hope our gift and pledge will support that vision so the college continues to excel and to distinguish itself.”