Name: Leonard Kleinpeter
Company: Southern Hydroseeders and Lake
Hometown: Baton Rouge
Why do you do what you do?
Since retirement from State government, I keep occupied and earn additional income with my new business Southern Hydroseeders–landscape and grass planting system. The business has continued to grow and now offers silk fencing, grass matting and other erosion control services. It is an ideal business for me as it keeps me outdoors and working with people. I’ve also started LAKE, a government relations and consulting firm involved with local, state and federal issues.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
In college, my goals were to own my own business and also work in the highest levels of state government. I owned Kleinpeter’s Bakery, was a real estate agent and consultant. Simultaneously, I served as First Assistant Secretary of State with both Paul Hardy and Jim Brown. Later, with Kathleen Blanco I was Chief of Staff of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and Special Assistant in the Governor’s Office.
What was your first job?
I sold life insurance as a college student. I worked hard and was honored by being named Rookie of the Year. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
From my Dad: be honest, loyal and never forsake a friend.
Who do you most admire in the local business community and why?
There are several because of their diverse fields: Jim Bernhard of Shaw, Ronnie Hebert of E-Tec and Ted Jones, a consultant. They are all self-made, yet still “down to earth.”
If you could have any job other than your own, what would it be?
I would be a baseball coach, preferably high school or college.
What is the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve overcome?
Twenty five years ago I failed in a business venture and had to declare bankruptcy. Working my way out and holding my family together at the same time is still my great accomplishment.
If you started over, what would you do differently?
I was drafted to play pro football with the Oakland Raiders but we could never reach a contract agreement. If I would have signed and made the team, I would have played in Superbowl II. My teammates would have included Billy Cannon, Gene Upshaw and George Blanda. I would sign up now if they would have me.
What is your prescription for life?
Pray often and follow the Golden Rule. I try to keep the great Red Skelton’s advice. When asked why he was always so nice to everyone, he said, “Christ was going to return as a human and how do I know the next person I meet isn’t him.”
What book are you currently reading?
The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers. These books include the genius of our founding fathers and the debates that established the greatest nation in history and on earth.
If you could have dinner with any three living people, who would they be? (Authors? Leaders?)
Billy Graham, George Will and Barack Obama
Who would play you in a movie?
General George Patton
What do you do to unwind?
While I miss my oil painting and will soon resume that hobby, I mostly hunt and fish.
What is the most expensive purchase you’ve made for yourself?
What is your favorite weekend activity?
Taking my grandsons, and soon my granddaughter, hunting.
What’s your theme song?
What’s your favorite spot in Baton Rouge?
Primos Steak House
How do you take your coffee/tea?
Cream in the coffee and unsweetened tea.
What is your favorite movie? TV show? Band?
Movie: Sound of Music; TV Show: South Park; Band: John Fred and the Playboys (he was my brother-in-law).
What is your favorite gadget?
Fishing graph, though friends think it should be my BlackBerry.
What is something that you can’t live without?
My computer keeps me in touch with friends and family when I can’t be with them personally.
If you could change one thing about Baton Rouge, what would it be?
We need both an inner loop and an outer loop. It will facilitate both economic development and traffic.
What is your greatest hope for Baton Rouge?
That we put more emphasis on our two great universities for business, cultural and quality of life research.
What is your greatest fear for Baton Rouge?
My greatest fear is that as a community we will not develop the courage to revamp and demand a quality public school system.