Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana and Dentons Bingham Greenebaum announced the 2024 JA Dubois County Business Hall of Fame Laureates at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 11, at Vincennes University Jasper Campus.
The 2024 laureates are U.B. “Butch” Klem and the late Robert Siebert.
U.B. “Butch” Klem: U.B. Klem Furniture Company (Active)
Butch Klem is a perfect representation of the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven both economic growth and quality of life in Dubois County for generations. Mr. Klem is President Emeritus of U.B. Klem Furniture Company, which he founded in 1973. He was the company’s only employee when he started the company in a small machine shed by maxing out his Sears credit card to buy the basic barebones woodworking equipment needed to begin his journey of creating his own manufacturing operation.
Like most successful entrepreneurs, Butch took great risk by starting his own operation at the age of 22 when he and his spouse, Kathy, were just starting their married life, but he had a vision and was confident in his ability to make the operation successful. Butch, along with Kathy, steadily grew the company, over the course of many years, through a combination of long hours of hard work, a never-ending drive focused on both the company’s productivity and the quality of their products, as well as an unwavering belief that they could enhance not only their own quality of life, but also that of their employees and their community.
Butch’s lifetime commitment was to do whatever it took to grow the company into the major national provider in restaurant furniture manufacturing.
Butch’s major business accomplishment is obviously the growth of his company, over the course of these past 50 years, from a start-up on a shoestring budget to a company with a national focus comprised of 100 associate employees and $15 million in annual sales. The customer base of U.B. Klem Furniture Co. over the years has included numerous national restaurant franchisors, such as Black-eyed Pea, Bonanza, Cheddar’s, Denny’s, Drake’s, Fazoli’s, Grandy’s, Jerry’s, Kenny Roger’s Roasters, Long John Silver’s, Noble Roman’s, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, and TGI Fridays along with contract work for many other furniture manufacturers. This amazing 50-year overnight success story was recognized with Butch receiving the Indiana Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Manufacturing in 1995, as well as through his active involvement in the National Association of Manufacturers.
Butch has played a pivotal role in the success German American Bancorp, Inc., another major Dubois County based company. Butch joined the Board of Directors of German American in 2004 and served as the lead director of the company from 2009 to 2021, when he retired from the board. Butch, who is always a student of how various businesses prosper, dedicated himself to learning what makes banking organizations successful. He was a key contributor to German American’s evolution from a local community bank to a regional financial services provider, which has been recognized as one of the highest performing community banking organizations in the nation.
Butch and Kathy, who have been life-long residents of Dubois County, are fully committed and dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life of both present and future citizens of our county. Butch, who strongly believes in the values taught through youth sports, coached numerous youth sports teams for many years. Butch and Kathy have also supported numerous churches and local, non-profit organizations in both their capital campaigns and annual operating needs. In that light, they have established the U. Butch and Kathleen Klem Catholic Faith Endowment at the Dubois County Community Foundation to provide continuing support for churches located throughout the county for many years to come.
Robert (Bob) Siebert: Siebert’s Clothing (Historical)
Bob owned and managed Siebert’s in Jasper, which has existed in the Jasper community for over 98 years. Upon his retirement in March of 1997, Bob sold it to his sons, Jim and John, making the store a part of three generations. Bob was also the owner and president of General Beverage in Jasper.
He was a graduate of Jasper High School and a 1950 graduate of Indiana University, where he earned a B.S. in Marketing. He, then, attended the Naval Preparatory Academy in Bainbridge, Maryland and served in the United States Navy during WWII.
Bob had a background of many achievements and awards with associations during his lifetime. He was awarded the Phi Kappa Psi Pledge of the Year at Indiana University, president of the Indiana Men’s Wear Retail Merchants Association, the Outstanding Retailer of the Year for Indiana in 1965, a commissioned Kentucky Colonel, awarded the Jasper Jaycees’ Boss of the Year, Jasper Chamber of Commerce “Excellence Award”, and Jasper High School Distinction Award, was the Grand Marshall in the Jasper Strassenfest Parade and was the recipient of the Good Scout Award at the Dubois County Distinguished Citizens Award Banquet, awarded by the Boy Scouts of America, Lincoln Heritage District.
In addition, he was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Jasper, the past president and board of director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, past president and active member of the Greater Downtown Jasper Business Association, charter member of the Jasper Action Team 1975, 12-year member of the Jasper Park Board, 15-year Explorer Scout leader, three-year Cub Scout leader, Jasper Retail Merchants president and director, past director and current member of Haysville Ruritan Club, charter member of Jasper Memorial Hospital Foundation (Core Group), Jubilee Steering Committee member of Memorial Hospital’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, co-chairman, with Joann Siebert, of the Memory Book Committee for Memorial Hospital, board member of Friends of Southern Hills, and member of Vincennes University Jasper Center’s Foundation (Core Group).
Bob was one of the founding board members for Junior Achievement in Jasper. He was active in the fund drive during his tenure on the board. He often hosted events and activities to encourage other members to make the drive successful. He co-sponsored JA companies made up of high school students and aided Company Program advisors and lead the student company.
Bob believed service and giving back meant so much, and in effect, donated a lot of time and treasure to various organizations in the community. In Bob’s words “I believe that if you have a business and are fairly successful, you should give something back to the community that helped make you a success”. He served on Fund Drive Committees for the Providence Home (Cathedral Health Care), Southern Hills Counseling Center, Memorial Hospital, the Downtown Jasper Renovation, the Boy Scouts, and the Sisters of St. Benedict. He was currently or previously a member of the Jasper Kiwanis Club, Indiana University Varsity Club – Hoosier Hundred, Jasper Knights of Columbus (4th Degree), American Legion Post #147, V.F.W. Post #673, National Eagle Scout Association, Jasper German Club, Ireland Sportsman Club, Fraternal Order of Police, Huntingburg Fraternal Order of Police, Jasper Loyal Order of the Moose #1175, J-Men’s Club Jasper High School Athletic Association, Jasper Country Club, Schnellville Conservation Club, the Jasper Outdoor Recreation Association, and the Jasper Jaycees, of which he was now a lifetime associate member.
Produced by: Kaitlyn Neukam