Dueling Perspectives: Anne and Rob Klamar

By Barbara Spector

Recalling big family and business changes

Anne Eiting Klamar and her husband, Rob, were physicians raising two young sons together in April 2000 when the board of Anne’s family company, Midmark Corporation, named her the company’s president.

Anne and Rob were living in Urbana, Ohio, about an hour away from the small town of Versailles, Ohio, where Midmark’s headquarters was then located. He was practicing medicine full-time; she practiced part-time while serving on the board and as part-time medical director of Midmark, a manufacturer and supplier of healthcare products, equipment and diagnostic software.

To facilitate Anne’s new role, the family moved to Versailles, and Rob became the primary parent to their children, Christian and Carl, who then were ages 5 and 3.

In 2016, Anne, a fourth-generation family member, became Midmark’s board chair. Non-family member John Baumann assumed the role of CEO. The company moved its headquarters to Dayton in 2013, though the Versailles campus remains its largest site. Today Midmark employs more than 1,800 teammates worldwide.

Anne and Rob recently took a stroll down memory lane to answer our question: What do you remember about moving to Versailles to fully engage with the family business?

Anne Klamar:

"I was pretty scared, because the company was losing money and was not in a good place. I wasn’t scared about moving back, because frankly, I was sick of the hour-each-way commute.

“There was a part of me that was scared about what was happening at the company, and could I make the company profitable and growing again? That was balanced by the relief of not having the drive and getting to spend more time with our children. I got to be the primary parent when they were little. I really enjoyed that role. Rob was a better primary parent as they grew up. So it worked well.

“Rob’s dad’s a physician, and his two brothers are physicians. I was worried about him emotionally, going from what a Klamar man does to taking a more part-time role, and how is that going to impact him with his family? [But] his dad was so proud of him, that he had the range and ability to step into that part-time role and that he wasn’t driven by ego, but rather by the right thing to do.

“From a family business perspective, there was something special about living in the same town with a lot of our teammates, and seeing them at football games on Friday nights, and seeing them in church and in the grocery store. Obviously, there was a lack of privacy. On the other hand, it felt like we were a family; it felt like we were a team.”

Rob Klamar: 

“I had no idea what we were getting into. I was focused so much on the day to day and us switching roles, my going from a full-time practicing physician to part-time, taking care of the kids and running the household.

“I went from full-time family practice in a small hospital where we took care of our patients in the intensive care unit — I did hospital medicine, I was on call every night — to five mornings, one afternoon. No calls on the weekends, no hospital, but with Anne traveling extensively.

“So I was home a lot with the kids alone. I got to volunteer in schools. On parent appreciation days, I was the only guy. I got to be a Cub Scout leader and Boy Scout leader. I got to help with the track program. So I was the one more active in the community, because I had the time available and Anne was gone so much.

“Anne was very sensitive to the public nature of her job when we moved back initially. She had difficulty going out in public, thinking that people would be judging her. But as she established herself and the company thrived, and they saw we were committed to the community, it became a much, much more comfortable fit. But there was a real adjustment period there.”

Copyright 2019 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

Article categories: 
Issue: 
May/June 2019

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