Herman C. Krannert
He founded Inland Container Company and made millions. His name adorns Purdue’s School of Management. But who exactly was Herman Krannert?
You should’ve known this guy. A man’s man. Think Clooney-cool. He was a self-contained force of nature. If Herman was in the room, you just knew it. You could feel it. This guy knew exactly who he was, what he believed and how to live those principles.
Your word is your bond. Don’t borrow money unless you have to. Education is valuable when used to make decisions, make things happen and earn a profit.
Meetings are of limited value. The truth was the only answer. He could deal with a problem, but you darn well better never lie to Herman.
What was his integrity worth? His boss calls him to Chicago and tells him he’s promoting him from somewhere out in the sticks to VP and a seat on the board. Cushy job. Nice office in Chicago. Big bump in pay. The boss tells him he’s earned it through hard work, which he had.
Then the boss tells Herman that he’s expected to vote however this guy tells him. Herman quits on the spot. What was he supposed to do? Be this guy’s lackey? No way. Unemployed with integrity is better than being some spineless yes-man.
The guy’s who worked with Herman at the factory hear what happened. They quit on the spot and come to his house on a Sunday morning. “So what are we gonna’ do, Herm?” They knew. He was going to do fine and they wanted to be with him.
Then there’s Ellnora--Mrs. Krannert. Her reaction to all this? She was proud of him. She knew. He’d do well in whatever he did next. Providing for the family was Herman’s responsibility. He was going to make sure they were taken care of. Never a doubt in her mind.
She probably never imagined they’d become one of the wealthiest families of their time. She probably didn’t think that together they would amass a fortune. In those days she probably never dreamed that they would build hospitals, art galleries and universities. But they did.
He wrote a book on management. It should be required reading for everyone. Not just for students or business people. Everyone should read this. Simple, timeless lessons. To a man like Herman, it was just common sense: be honest, work hard, quit complaining. Do not gossip or waste time. Do you best. Don’t ask permission for every little thing – make a decision and go!
How cool was he? Addressing the graduates of his school of management here at Purdue, he basically says, ‘Ok sure, you’ve read a lot of books, but you haven’t done anything yet. Get a job and do something. And it better make your parents, professors and me all proud.’
Herman Krannert was very smart in his time. Today he’s a genius. He stood right here on campus. Watched the Krannert Building rise from nothing. He sent his managers here to learn the right way -- and you bet there is a ‘right’ way to do things. He addressed graduates of his school. ‘Now get a job and do something.’.
The Krannert School of Management is a ‘do something’ place. Our graduates do things all over the world. They lead in every industry and occupation you can imagine. Herman C. Krannert lives on in every Krannert grad who innovates, discovers or makes something.
“…and while success isn't everything, failure isn't anything at all.”
July 29, 1968