Ben Kleinpeter, Former Head of Kleinpeter Farms, Dies at 91
Ben Kleinpeter, the former head of Baton Rouge-based Kleinpeter Farms, died on Wednesday. He was 91.
Kenny Kleinpeter, currently the general manager of the dairy, said his dad passed away in his sleep.
Even though Ben Kleinpeter stepped down as president of the company 14 years ago, he still played an active role in the business. "He was there half-a-day yesterday," Kenny Kleinpeter said.
Kleinpeter Farms was started in 1913 by Ben's grandfather Sebastian and his father Leon at the family farm near Highland and Perkins roads. As the middle child out of 11 children, Ben Kleinpeter began working for the dairy at a young age. "If there was a dirty job, I did it and never complained," he told The Advocate earlier this year.
When Leon retired in the mid-1960s, he gave stock in the diary to his five sons. In 1987, Ben bought out his four brothers and took control of the business.
"He was instrumental in the development and success of Kleinpeter Farms Dairy," Kenny Kleinpeter said.
In 1998, Ben Kleinpeter returned the dairy to its roots, buying a 514-acre farm near Montpelier that would house all the cows. The dairy would expand to more than 1,200 cows.
Later on, he would turn the business over to his children. His son Jeff served as president and chief executive from 2004 to 2015, then his daughter Sue Anne Kleinpeter Cox took over the reins.
"I always took great pride in the Kleinpeter name with the dairy business because our quality was so good," Ben Kleinpeter said. "We always relied on word-of-mouth. We gave good service 24 hours a day. We built good relationships with our customers, and they would push Kleinpeter milk. Eventually, we wiped everybody else out."