It’s Packers vs. Vikings week here in Minnesota, and even though Keith Kleinschmidt is a life-long Packers fan, we won’t hold that against him, as he’s Innovative Office Solutions’ “Coffee Fanatic,” the persona of the month for November.
Keith is the Furniture Project Manager/Designer here at Innovative and you might recognize him as the guy who, “used to always have a cup of coffee with me to sip on from morning into the evening.” He started at Innovative in June of 2001, and although he’s switched from coffee to tea during the week, he still enjoys a cup of coffee on weekend mornings.
He started drinking coffee in his late teens and while French roast is his standard, he loves an espresso with a little sugar added.
Keith manages the designers, furniture account coordinators and furniture purchasing. He helps the sales reps find solutions for customer issues, planning and suggesting solutions. His favorite part about working at Innovative is the people, both co-workers and customers, who, he says, “Have become my work family in so many ways. I have always enjoyed learning about what our customers do and how they do it. When you can get a passionate person talking about their company, I find that fascinating.”
We asked Keith a couple of rapid-fire questions to get to know him a little bit better:
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Central Wisconsin, the mailing address said Hamburg, not even a town or a collection of buildings, but it had a post office—out of an addition to the postmaster’s house. I lived on a house on two acres surrounded by farms and farm families. We lived right down the road from Fromm Brothers Inc., the world’s largest silver fox and ginseng farm, at least back in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. You could hear the yelps and cries of foxes during the night from my childhood home.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: Merrill Sr. High, Merrill, Wisconsin, and then the University of Wisconsin-Stout, in Menomonie, Wisconsin. I went to Stout for Graphic Arts (Printing) and then switched to Psychology with a minor in History and Business Administration.
Q: How do you like to spend your free time?
A: There is nothing better than tromping through the woods. Several years ago I joined the Minnesota Mycological Society, so now I have more reasons to go walking through the woods, finding edible mushrooms adds an additional reward. I need to learn about foraging for other wild plants…
Q: What’s your ideal weekend?
A: Good food and drink shared with family and friends, a hike in the woods at sunrise, time spent outside in the sunshine.
Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
A: Southeast Asia—the sand, sun, people and food.
Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: Picking a favorite is tough. I love the crispy, crackly crust of fresh baked bread, the fragrance of fresh extra virgin olive oil, beef short ribs braised until just before they fall apart, dim sum with sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf, crème Brule with its burnt sugar topping the creaminess below, bacon cooked over a campfire… I could go on and on.
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: Pulp Fiction, it just never gets old.
Q: Favorite TV show?
A: This Old House.
Q: What was your go-to music in high school?
A: Rock ‘n roll, my favorite album at the time was Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”.
Q: What’s the last good book you read?
A: I just finished Peter May’s, “The Lewis Man,” it’s the second of a trilogy that I’d recommend. I try to read daily, a little before bed and then maybe a few minutes in the morning to wake up. I end up reading about 30 books a year, I’ve been keeping a book list for over 10 years now and it’s enjoyable to look back at the titles and think about parts of the stories.
Q: What are some things you’d still like to do?
A: 1. Learn to work with metal on an anvil blacksmithing forge. 2. Learn to marble paper. 3. Work with a team of horses. 4. Learn how to distill Irish whiskey. 5. Build a stone building or foundation. With each thing I learn, I uncover more things I’m curious about.
Q: How would your family describe you?
A: Hard working, dedicated, loyal, and maybe a little controlling.
And even though Keith’s had a recent change in his daily drink of choice from coffee to tea, is there any chance of getting him to switch his favorite NFL team? Nope.
A: Green Bay Packers, no matter if they’re winning or losing, I’m still a Packers fan.