Owners, Kleine Companies
by Megan Scott '96
Mark and Jeannette Kleine have a vision, and it's one that permeates their lives, from their business investments to their volunteer activities to their philanthropy. It's all about making Galesburg a vibrant community. "We invest in things that we feel a community needs in order to be vibrant and to be able to attract people to move here," says Mark.
The Kleines' vision finds its roots in their unique partnership as husband and wife. When they married in 2011, Mark was owner of the farm equipment dealership Kleine Equipment, and Jeannette had a 30-year career in the healthcare industry. They didn't expect to find themselves where they are today, dedicated full-time to investing in Galesburg through the Kleine Companies.
"We knew that we were going to live in Galesburg, so we thought, let's work to make it better," says Jeannette. "We wanted to help people start a business, particularly businesses that would help grow our community."
The Kleines started their new venture by purchasing a building in downtown Galesburg. This investment grew quickly, from one building to multiple ventures, and they've since helped provide support for a number of new businesses in downtown Galesburg. They've invested in downtown lofts and in the construction of a new subdivision; serve on a number of local boards; and are generous supporters of OSF St. Mary Medical Center, the YMCA, the Orpheum Theatre, and Discovery Depot, among others.
The Kleines are also long-time supporters of Knox. Mark served on the Board of Trustees for nearly a decade, stepping down in 2016. During his service, he chaired the Gateway Task Force, which oversaw the renovation of Alumni Hall. "I've always said, 'So goes Knox, so goes Galesburg.' It's important that Knox is vibrant and strong," says Mark. "Alumni Hall was great for Knox and great for Galesburg," Jeannette adds. "With so much development in downtown Galesburg, it fit right into what we were doing."
While the Kleines recognize that there are challenges ahead for both Knox and Galesburg, they remain optimistic for the future. "We have a community that has invested in infrastructure, invested in education. We have a vibrant arts community. And Galesburg is an affordable community.
We hear over and over again 'My gosh, I can move to Galesburg, buy a house, and start a business on Main Street.' Yes, yes, you can," says Jeannette. "Come to a community like Galesburg and make a difference," adds Mark.