An icon in both the housing industry and in the Jewish community, Safeguard Properties Chairman Robert Klein died May 3, 2018 at age 65.
“Robert Klein loved the property preservation business and I loved speaking to him about it,” said HousingWire Editor-in-Chief Jacob Gaffney. “Even though he officially retired, he still remained active in his community and various business interests. He will be missed and the real estate industry is lesser without him.”
Klein was the founder and chairman of SecureView, a supplier of clearboarding polycarbonate material, as well as chairman of RIK Enterprises.
Klein was on a crusade to end plywood boarding, a cause he dedicated the last few years of his life to, saying, “Community blight is a cancer and if we don’t address the causes it will only get worse.”
“His passionate work to eliminate community blight across the country resulted in real change,” said Sarah Wheeler, Magazine Editor for HousingWire. “He had a profound effect in the Cleveland area and his legislative work to ban plywood was the foundation for many communities to recover.”
Back in 2009, Klein received the Ernst & Young Northeast Ohio Region Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The recognition was for demonstrating excellence and success in the areas of innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.
His funeral will be at noon on May 4 at Hebrew Academy of Cleveland's Beatrice J. Stone Yavne High School, 2475 S. Green Road in Beachwood, Ohio.
Safeguard and SecureView also expressed their shock and grief at Klein’s passing.
“The consummate social entrepreneur, Robert’s businesses and activities sought to benefit mankind and improve the world around him,” the companies said in a release. “From an early age, he determined where the greatest needs existed and sought to address them with zeal. The absence of his energies in supporting community groups and beneficent organizations will be palpable.”
And his work in the housing industry isn’t the only thing he is remembered for.
“He was one of the pillars of the community who cared for every human being,” said Rabbi Eli Dessler, Hebrew Academy of Cleveland financial director, in this local media interview. “He was behind every major project, privately and publicly, and he set the bar of charity on a tremendously high level and encouraged people by example to follow suit.”
Klein words often echoed Dessler's sentiment, as in the following interview he conducted with HousingWire. Here, he is speaking of his love for his work and the role it played in the community-at-large:
"Based on my experience I realized one of the biggest problems in our industry is the lack of communication with communities, we all have the same goal which is to maintain the properties and stop blight. I knew that in order to be successful I needed to come up with a different approach. What resulted was the idea of getting the community involved and to rehab an entire neighborhood and not just a few houses."
Goodbye, and thank you, Mr. Klein.