Industry Leader, Retired President and Chairman of the Board for Brandtjen & Kluge Dies

Henry Brandtjen, Jr., retired Chairman of the Board of Brandtjen & Kluge Inc., has died. He was 85.

ST. CROIX FALLS, WI—January 7, 2014—Henry Brandtjen, Jr., retired Chairman of the Board of Brandtjen & Kluge Inc., has died.

Brandtjen, who was 85 passed away quietly at home, having put up a brave fight with cancer, surrounded by family, on January 4, 2014.

Brandtjen graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1952 with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering. He was also a member of the Chi Psi Fraternity. Upon graduation, Brandtjen served in the U.S. Army and, in 1955, went to work at the family business and became the third generation to run the company.

When Brandtjen took over leadership of the company the biggest challenge he faced was the rapid advancement of offset printing technology. At that time the company dominated the letterpress printing equipment market but that dominance was coming to an end. Brandtjen guided the company through transition and steered it into the market it continues to be the world leader in today: foil stamping, embossing and diecutting equipment. “It was tough, we were in a place where technology was changing our industry and we had to focus on reinventing ourselves and establishing a new niche in the printing industry,” Brandtjen said in an interview with a company archivist.

Brandtjen also headed the acquisition that lead to Kluge’s strength and success in folding and gluing equipment. “He lived and breathed Kluge, he loved the products, customers and employees,” Brandtjen’s son, Hank, said on Tuesday.

Under Brandtjen’s leadership in the 1960’s the company earned the prestigious E Award for export excellence from the U.S. Government and followed that up with the E-Star Award for continued excellence. “Henry was not only a friend but a mentor and adviser,” revered Michael Aumann, Brandtjen and Kluge CEO. “His tremendous technical aptitude and tenacity allowed our company to achieve great success and weather some of the most severe storms in our 95-year history. At Brandtjen and Kluge we are proud to carry on Henry’s legacy.”

Affectionately known as “Mr. B.” to his employees and co-workers, Brandtjen was noted for his technical knowledge and passion for the printing industry. Brandtjen was honored with the Corporate Gegenheimer Award by NPES, the trade association that serves printing equipment manufacturers. In 1992 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Printing Impressions magazine and in 2005 the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Foil Stamping and Special Effects Association (FSEA).

In the 1960’s, Brandtjen earned his private pilot’s license and went on to own his own airplane which he used for both business and pleasure. He continued to fly his own plane into his 70’s.

Always a believer in taking care of one’s body and a lover of the outdoors, Brandtjen never shied away from a challenge. He canoed to the Arctic Circle, peddled his bike across Europe multiple times and yearly took on the Minnesota Ironman. In 1978, Brandtjen found his passion when he went heli-skiing with Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH). He continued to heli-ski until he was 75 and eventually skied over 10 million vertical feet. The friends he made while skiing with CMH and the company itself honored him the Silver Skier Award in 1989. When diagnosed with cancer in March 2013 he immediately headed to Vail, CO, to ski with his family.

Brandtjen is survived by his son Henry Brandtjen, III “Hank” (Kirstin), President of Brandtjen and Kluge, his daughter Julia Mitchell Fink (Michael), and four grandchildren.

A Celebration of Henry’s Life will be held Saturday, January 11 at 11 AM at Bradshaw Funeral Services, 678 South Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, MN. Memorials are preferred to Brandtjen Family Endowment c/o Saint Paul Academy, 1712 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105.

About Brandtjen & Kluge Inc.
Adding value since 1919, Brandtjen and Kluge is a fourth generation family owned manufacturer of specialty print finishing equipment. For over 90 years the brand name “Kluge” has represented innovation, productivity and rugged durability to companies worldwide. Headquartered in St. Croix Falls, WI, Brandtjen and Kluge markets equipment through a direct sales force in the United States and Canada and has a well-established network of industry-qualified distributors to provide global coverage.

Source: Brandtjen & Kluge.

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  • David Leskusky

    I only had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Brandtjen a few times but his love for the printing industry, for Kluge and his family was obvious. I believe you learn most about a person from the people they’ve touched, and from talking with those who knew him, Mr. B lived life to the fullest and helped as many people as he could along the way. His personal and professional resume above speaks for itself and I’m sure he’s smiling somewhere on the legacy he’s left behind. I spoke with Hank briefly today and I think he summed up his Father’s achievements the best… "If my Dad had a bucket list, he died with it being completely empty." My condolences to Hank, Ki, little Henry and to everyone at Kluge.

  • Chris Price

    On behalf of our teams at NPES and GASC – our thoughts and prayers go out to the Brandtjen family and the entire Brandtjen and Kluge team. We have lost a true industry pioneer!