Overview on Herman C. Krannert

Herman C. Krannert

Herman C. Krannert was a businessman and philanthropist in the Midwest of the United States who made millions in the corrugated fiber products industry and subsequently made generous contributions to education and the arts. Among other substantial contributions, eleven buildings bear the Krannert name, most of them at hospitals and universities in Illinois and Indiana, including the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, and the Krannert Art Museum and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Krannert was married to Ellnora Decker Krannert.

Early career

After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, Krannert was hired in 1914 by Sefton Manufacturing Company, a Chicago-based firm that made paper boxes. At age 30, he was transferred to Anderson, Indiana, and became the youngest Sefton employee to be promoted to plant manager. During his years in Anderson, Krannert met and later married Ellnora Decker, an Indiana native and graduate of Brenau College.

Krannert’s work at the Anderson plant was rewarded with the company’s president offering him a position as a vice president and director, with the caveat that Krannert would be required to vote as the president voted. Feeling that this directive was unprofessional and unethical, he left the company.

Inland Container Corporation

In 1925, Krannert started his own business in Indianapolis, the Inland Container Corporation, with six employees, all of whom had also quit the company in Anderson. The company expanded and survived the Great Depression.

During World War II, the United States government began buying large quantities of Inland’s moisture-resistant “V-Board” boxes. By the early 1970s, Inland Container was America’s second-largest manufacturer of corrugated shipping containers, with a complex of 25 plants grossing $200 million in annual sales.

Krannert School of Management

In 1960, Purdue University began to develop the first relationships with Krannert. He was referred to Emanuel Weiler for advice regarding his Indianapolis-based firm, Inland Container Corp., and later Krannert approved a management development program for his executives to be taught by Purdue faculty.

In 1962, Herman and Ellnora Krannert donated $2.73 million to Purdue University to establish The Krannert Graduate School of Industrial Administration, the university’s first endowed school. The money went to provide for a new building and trust fund.

Herman Krannert received an honorary Doctorate of Industrial Administration from President Hovde, president of Purdue, in 1962.

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

In 1964, Herman and Ellnora Krannert announced the plans for Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. The Center is known for its four first-class venues, including the Foellinger Great Hall, one of the most acoustically perfect performance spaces in the world, and it is also used as a laboratory space, housing classes, offices, and student productions for the University of Illinois Theatre Department, the School of Music, and the Dance Department.

Krannert Memorial Library

The Krannert Memorial Library, located on the University of Indianapolis campus, opened in 1977 and completely renovated in 2015 to create a 21st-century active learning environment with collaborative space for research, scholarship and engagement. UIndy’s Library is a campus destination with access to knowledgeable librarians, excellent information resources and a variety of educational technologies. The Library is open to everyone.

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