CINCINNATI — Kenneth F. Klosterman, former chairman and chief executive officer of Klosterman Baking Co., a member of the American Society of Baking’s Hall of Fame and once a professional magician, died Oct. 21 at the age of 87.
“Ken Klosterman, Cincinnati’s bread baron, was a ‘magical’ force in the baking industry,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based American Bakers Association. “As a longtime ABA board member and a revered leader, Ken not only propelled Klosterman Baking Co. but took great care to grow and support the entire baker community. His family continues his legacy of leadership. Our sincerest condolences go to them and to all who knew Ken.”
Mr. Klosterman, a third-generation baker, came from a family with a baking history going back to 1848 in Germany. Frank Klosterman, Mr. Klosterman’s great-uncle, arrived in Cincinnati in 1880 and opened the French Baking Co.
Ken Klosterman, after succeeding his father, Bernard Klosterman, as chairman and CEO of Klosterman Baking Co. in 1972, led the company through years of growth. Sales increased more than 400%, and the number of employees doubled between 1973 and 1983.
The company built a second bakery plant, called KBI, in Morristown, Ind., in 1978 that supplied buns to McDonald’s restaurants in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois. Klosterman Baking acquired Schafer Baking Co. in Springfield, Ohio, in 1984 and renamed it KBO, Inc. Klosterman Baking Co. added West Baking Co. in Indianapolis in 1987 and renamed it KBW.
Mr. Klosterman was president of the Variety Bakers of America and the Ohio Bakers Association. He served on the boards of the ABA, The Long Co., the Greater Cincinnati Restaurant Association and the Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was inducted into the ASB’s Baking Hall of Fame in 2011.
Mr. Klosterman received a bachelor’s of arts degree from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., and he served in the US Army from 1955-58, rising to the rank of first lieutenant.
Besides baking, magic was another area where he excelled. The Smithsonian magazine in 1991 published a 10-page article on Mr. Klosterman and his magic tricks. He was president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
“I do recall at the summer board dinner at The Hay-Adams (a hotel in Washington) that he did a magic trick where a series of needles threaded on a thread was drawn out of his mouth as well as a second trick where he took a dollar from his key competitor Joe Schwebel, and it being retrieved from the middle of an unsliced lemon,” said Lee Sanders, senior vice president, government relations and public affairs for the ABA. “So clever!”
Klosterman Baking is still family-owned. Kim Klosterman, his daughter, is now chairman and CEO while Chip Klosterman, his son, is president. The bakery provides items such as fresh hearth bread, rolls and other baked foods to more than 4,000 restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals and schools in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Four bakeries produce over 400 varieties of bread, buns, rolls and flatbreads. The company also distributes frozen products throughout the United States.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Judith. Survivors include a son, Kenneth “Chip” Fuller Klosterman Jr.; two daughter, Kimberly Klosterman (Michael Lowe) and Jayme Klosterman (Carl Shapiro); three grandchildren, Katie Klosterman O’Shaughnessy, Ellen Klosterman and Olivia Klosterman; and a great granddaughter, Georgia.
Private services will be held at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions are suggested to Hospice of Cincinnati c/o Bethesda Foundation 10500 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45242 and/or Lindner Center of HOPE Attn: Development Office 4075 Old Western Row Road Mason, OH 45040.