Daniel Klein, 37, was convinced when he left for college that he wouldn’t join his family business, the real estate development firm Klein Enterprises. The Park School graduate studied business and economics, and worked as a residential real estate broker on the side — a job that, among other things, led him to rent a home to his future wife, Anna.
But family has a funny way of pulling you back in, and 15 years after he returned to Baltimore, Klein lives with his wife and three children in Pikesville, working under his family name and as a director-at-large for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
The JT caught up with Klein to talk about his business, meeting Associated president Marc Terrill in high school and chesed.
You’re the fourth generation of Kleins to head up Klein Enterprises. What does it mean for you to continue on that tradition?
It means a lot. I think whenever your name is on the sign or on the door outside the company it means that I’m representing more than just myself. I’m representing a lot of people and a lot of history and a lot of values in terms of how we try to do business every day. It means I need to be much more aware of my interaction with people, about decisions that I make, how we conduct ourselves, because there’s so much more of a focus of what I’m doing, because I’m linked to the company in so many different ways.
Did you always know you were going to join your family’s business?
No, actually, when I was growing up, I never thought that I would live in Baltimore after moving away for college. I always enjoyed real estate, but never really envisioned a life here. My grandfather was 86 when I graduated college, and he asked me if I would come back to Baltimore try it out, and I figured I’d come back for a few years and then see what else was out there. But I ended up enjoying it and realizing that having a family business that can sustain itself over multiple generations is something be proud of, and realized there’s a real opportunity to grow, and I could create opportunities for other people.
How did you come to work with The Associated?
I actually had a meeting with Marc Terrill when I was in high school. Before the Diller program ever existed, Marc had an idea at that point to effectively come up with some type of program like Diller, and get high school students exposed and involved.
It was premature. It’s not something I think I was prepared for but something that I definitely remembered when I moved back from college. And I think my first meeting outside of the office when I moved back to Baltimore with my grandfather was with Marc Terrill, to learn about what The Associated does in Baltimore and my family’s history of involvement and where our support had historically been. Marc had said, “We want to start a real estate industry network through The Associated. Would you like to get involved?” And I helped start it with Michael Saxon, and it’s a big group that’s still a part of The Associated today.
When you’re in Baltimore and you’re willing to put in time and energy and you want to give back to the community, there are no shortage of good opportunities to do so.
Do you have a larger goal in mind for what you want to accomplish with The Associated?
I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I’ve been the beneficiary of support from agencies, and I’ve been able to see how support benefits others. My goal is to continue to be a steward and try to do good things for the community. I have three young kids, and my wife I are always preaching to them about our value system and what’s important to us. They come home from school and we talk about chesed, and we talk about tikkun olam, and we talk about tzedakah, and there’s nothing more important to me than for them to see us living those values on a daily basis.