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Family

Jerry Kline “One of the things is, I’ve always said that nobody works for me, you work with me. If you work for anybody, you work for yourself. I would tell them, I can’t get mine if you can’t get yours, and you can’t get yours then I can’t get mine. You’re as close to being in business for yourself as you’re ever going to be, and I will see to it that you have the tools to do what you need to do. You just let me know and we’ll just get it on. And it seemed to work.”
Joel Gottlieb “When Jerry was selling the company… he just wanted to know when they were going to “pass the slaw”, meaning, when were funds going to be disbursed? He grew to realize this took several months while they were doing due diligence and we were negotiating contracts and such. So we, in the contract, I defined – the term which would normally have been a “Closing Date” became the “Slaw Date”, and that was the date the slaw was to be passed.”
Peggy Jacobs “My grandmother [Lena Kline] was very loving.  I guess it was after my grandfather died when I was fifteen, we would move to the beach every summer.  After school we went to Myrtle Beach, and my grandmother would come and stay with us for the three months that we were there.  And my mother’s mother, her name was Jenny Schwartz, and she also came and lived at the beach with us, so there were three months out of each year from fifteen on that I was with my grandmothers especially.”
Amy Kline  “I have memories of being paged by my dad throughout the building to come to his office. Sometimes it was to meet someone he was doing business with, or to sit in on a business call, or to just catch up on life. As focused as he was on Kline, his family was his number one priority, and he always made it a point to make it home every night for dinner, attend tennis tournaments and dance recitals, and to attend my brothers baseball and football games. Also, my dad took me on a few business trips to New York.”
Cathy Kline  “As a child I can remember on Sundays [my dad] would take me to the office, and in the back, like you’ve seen in these old movies, it was a big room with typewriters where all the secretaries would be and he’d put me back there and I’d just sit there and type while he worked there for hours on a Sunday. Sometimes we’d go in the plant and we’d put on hard hats, and I would look for these little circles, I guess they punch them, from the steel beams. It was just always a really fun place for me to go as a child.”
David Kline  “I don’t have memories of my grandfather working, but I certainly have a lot of memories of my dad. And my dad took me around with him a lot, and I sat in a lot of meetings and went on a lot of business trips with him, so those are the types of memories I have. Dad’s a real focused guy, and being a little kid and going around to all these meetings, didn’t really understand what was going on. I think, now that I look back on those memories and those experiences kind of being with him, it’s more kind of a retrospective learning experience than the things he might have taught me as he was going through. With my dad it was always about your character and do what you say you’re going to do, and surround yourself with the very best people, and be proactive, and how putting people in a position to be successful and being the leader.”
Harold Kline  “Mt. Sutro Tower… we were in the tall tower business for televisions stations… heavy structural towers, and this tower was needed in San Francisco Bay area because I believe they had nine TV stations there and they wanted this one tower to support all of the antennas for the Bay area… It’s a very, very unusual tower and it stands above the horizon of San Francisco, you can see it from many directions and I guess one day it’ll be featured as much as the San Francisco cable cars. It looks like a sailing vessel when it sticks up through the clouds with the three masts of TV antennas, and most of the time whenever they show news from San Francisco you can always see it in the background. Yes, it was very successful and a very unusual construction.”
Jay Kline “I always wanted to work with Kline and contribute to the family business.”
Sol and Harold Kline  “I think the story that we remember is he [Myer] had a horse and wagon and they lived in Baltimore and they used to take the horse and wagon and he would be gone six days a week, and [then he moved to Charlotte and] he would travel from Charlotte into Columbia. And a horse and wagon I guess it maybe went ten miles an hour so it took them a long time to get here. And the story we heard is he saw some scrap in a field [in Columbia] and he asked around if anybody knew who the scrap belonged to and they didn’t, so he loaded it on his wagon and took it to a junkyard and sold it. And I think he said he got something like $10 or $20 and he thought that was like manna from Heaven. It was a lot of money and that’s what enticed him to wanna go into the scrap business.”
Sue Kline  “It was always fun to go to New York and look at the tower array on top of the World Trade Center and know that that was built in Columbia, South Carolina by Kline Iron & Steel Company. And I don’t know if anybody’s told you, but there are pieces of those towers that survived at the World Trade Center Museum……… So yes, there’s a lot of pride in knowing that Kline Iron & Steel was that family business. People, including our children, were real instrumental.”

Friends and Business Associates

Sam Brown “I was a welder, from a welder to a fitter’s helper. From a fitter’s helper…you need to learn a whole lot of stuff to run machines and stuff, like sometimes you might run a drill press or something like that. Go back there and cut stuff on this thing we call a shear, you learn that. And they had these big overhead cranes, you learned how to run those. I don’t know, I mean, we must of had over 200 and something employees there, it was a lot of us. And it was just nice, it was just real nice. The atmosphere, and the pay was good, too.”

Lewis Burns
“(On weekends) we would come to the State House and play up there in the yard up on that sliding thing up there….and we knew Kline because my dad started there in 1960, and my brother started there in ’62, my older brother, and I went there in ’64. Then I had another brother next to me, I forgot what year he came, but it was in the late sixties or early seventies.”
James Cascio “How I started as a welder and got into that was, I was down at my cousin’s house, they live three houses down from us, and my uncle, my mother’s sister’s husband, was out in the backyard and he had a little buzz box welder, was out there welding, and I was watching it and it got me hooked.  So that was how I got hooked on doing steel work and welding and stuff.” 
Comfort Charles “Our paid wages were higher than a lot of other companies. I’ve known a lot of people to come to us because we was paying a little bit more; maybe it was a dollar more, I don’t know… Mr. Kline, I think he was cool. I really think so.  And the reason I say he was cool and respected his employees–and that’s something I learned, too, and dealt with a lot–he knew all of our names.” 
Larry Dowd “But bottom line, I started Kline Iron & Steel on August 4th, 1974, the day Richard Nixon stepped aside…….essentially, I was an in-process inspector, which meant I was on the floor doing verifications of material, receiving verifications, validating the material was proper grade, size, diameter, length and so forth, would validate the steel mill-test reports that came with the steel for the chemistry and the mechanical properties, make sure they were all adequate.”
Reed Fickling “About the middle of 1984 the insurance market changed dramatically. Rates were doubling, they were tripling almost overnight…..I was still doing work as a consultant….but this idea of getting a percentage of the premium saved was no longer possible because everybody’s rates were going up. So I decided it would behoove me to join an insurance agency so that I could become an agent, I could write the insurance for these people that I’ve been doing consulting work for. So I did. Boyle Vaughan Associates is the company that I joined.”
Tony Fonseca “We had two divisions, a structural division and a tower division, and so I worked in different areas of the structural division and then I worked in the tower division in the factory. And I remember the thing that I thought was pretty neat, to this day I think it’s impressive or significant anyway, I laid out the baseplate of the tower on top of the Sears Tower in Chicago.”
Joan Fulmer “From Olympia School I went to work with Southern Bell [as a] long distance operator…then I went to work for Mr. [Bernard] Kline. And it was funny because I told him a story (laughter). He asked me could I work a switchboard and I told him yes. Well, I couldn’t. So after I filled out my application I started out the door and he said, “We’ll call you if we’re going to hire you.” I said, “No, that’s okay. I’m gone find a job today. You don’t have to call me.” He said, “Well come back,” and then he hired me. One of my friends who I worked for at Southern Bell came down and showed me how to do everything (laughter).”
James and Sandra Hartley “I started out as a welder and I done that for probably five or six years, and then I became a fitter and I did that for a few years, and then I became what they called a foreman back then. You supervised a little group of men in what they call a bay. I had the bay right behind the office on Huger Street, and I ran the work short orders and fabricated structural steel. And I did that for five, six years, and then I transferred to the West Columbia plant and worked over there, started off from the bottom sort of. I was like a fitter when I went over there, and they kept moving me around all over the plant, and then they made a supervisor out of me…..[then] I ran some of the CNC machines when they first got them in. It’s a machine that’s computerized, because most of your steel working machines back then was manual….If you put a hole in something, you had to center punch it, line that center punch up with the punch, and then you mash a pedal and it would punch a hole in it. You changed the dies for different size holes…”
Jean Lecordier  “I interviewed with Kline in March and I started in June of 1986…what made the interview interesting with Kline is because when I brought up where I was from in Mauritius, they were somewhat familiar with it because Kline had done a special project for the U.S. Navy in a country called La Réunion, which is right next to Mauritius. They’d [erected] a tall tower there.”
Joel Lourie   “And if you worked with him [Jerry], if there was ever somebody that could write a book called Every Detail Matters; that would be the name of a book that Jerry Kline could write. And as a businessperson that’s very important because, I mean, I think about that a lot when we have people that are out representing our agency and our company and they’re representing us and every detail about that matters, from the way they make a presentation to how they look to how they treat people to the kind of customer service they get to, just every detail matters and he is a very detail-oriented person.”
Jill Menhart “I was there from September 1998 to November 2001, so I was there during the American Tower Corporation transaction. So I got to see, definitely kind of pre-transaction, what the culture was. It was just like a sense of family from the beginning ….. it was just a very welcoming environment. We had about 300 employees at the time, two shifts, and I was at the main office on Huger and Gervais, and there was – in the beginning just kind of getting to know people and feeling a little intimidated and you’ve got some of these really big steelworkers that are out there moving beams and everything, and I think some of our biggest guys are the biggest teddy bears and some of the sweetest, most caring individuals.”
Tommy Mills “That’s the kind of guy Jerry was; Jerry made an impression on you, a good one. And I’ll tell you he had a loyal employee in me…..When I went to Kline [Iron & Steel Company] Jerry had just taken over the company and.…Jerry wanted to get going, he wanted to pump this up, you know, make this a great company! And he was trying to hire the right people to do it. And this first project that we really got when I was hired onboard was the BMW plant there in South Carolina, it was in Greenville… and we got that contract and we did well.”
Fred Mosley “We worked forty-eight hours a week, sometimes more… that’s how I always looked at work. The more you know, the better it is for you. And I’m going to say this, I was one of the top-payed fitters there. In my area, we were Bay One. Bay One was structural, and this was the top bay. You had people who were there before me, but by me wanting to do what I wanted to do and wanting to learn what I wanted to learn about the job, that helped me to get on up the ladder.”
Gordon Moore “Project management….that means you’re responsible for the management of all the project activities. You’re responsible for making sure that schedules are met in the shop for delivering the steel, you’re responsible for the onsite activities. Even though you didn’t do the erection, you were responsible to make sure the erection was done by a subcontracted erector that we used. Large jobs for a twenty-six year old guy, going to New York City…”
Martin Phillips “Jerry would just stop and bring…in the barbecue truck and cook hamburgers and just celebrate things and just say ‘let’s all get together’.  And this is the guys in the plant, not just the inner team of executives or whatever.  Just kind of having a moment to sit down and enjoy and relax and I think that created kind of a feeling of wellness, not just within the individuals.”
Bill Smith “If you were to go in the dictionary and look up the definition of gentleman, you would find Jerry Kline’s name next to it. That’s what he means to me, and that’s what I aspire to be, is like him. He’s just a great influence for me, and he’s great to be around. I learn something every time I’m with him, whether it’s a saying, whether it’s just a reminder. He still has the passion and the drive to continue, and that’s why he’s involved in a lot of things since he sold Kline, is because he still has it. He still has the “it” factor for business, and so I learn a lot and I just enjoy being around him.”
Bill Stern “I always tell people Jerry is a very strong man with a soft heart. He’s one of the most compassionate human beings I’ve known. If someone ever tells you Jerry didn’t do the right thing, they don’t know Jerry Kline. Jerry always does the right thing.”
Tom Strickland “Jerry’s just one of these people that when you meet him you just remember him.  I don’t know what it is.  Some people have it, very few people have it, but you just meet him and you like him.  Just the way he presents himself, the way he treats people, I just liked Jerry from the moment I met him, just a great guy.”
Frank Taylor “My title was general manager of Kline Coating……. But coating, we used a centrifugal blast machine, a wheel abrader would use steel shot and you’d recycle it.  A lot of people may be more familiar with sand blasting, but that’s how we prepared the steel, and then we would move it to wherever with the overhead cranes and paint it.  And we used coal tar epoxy a lot, which was pretty funny.  Jerry used to refer to it as black gold, because there weren’t many people – you know, it’s hard work, it’s nasty, a lot of people don’t want to do it, but it was definitely good for us…”
Ray White “Jerry created an environment where he empowered people to do things, and he was never afraid to try something different……..We had to build a tower that was 90 feet tall and it needed to move backwards and forwards just in a line….the distance of travel wasn’t that great, maybe 30 feet something, but it had to move, had to be on wheels, which wouldn’t be so bad except it was 90 feet tall, so we had to figure out a way to put it on wheels but still hold it down.”
John “Woody” Williams “Peggy Kline’s the one that started that wellness program, I’m pretty sure. One day, the nurses were testing us for this and that, [and] my blood pressure was way up. Both of them looked at it and they said, “Mr. Williams, you need to go see a doctor; your blood pressure is way up.” And so I did, and sure enough when I got to the doctor’s office and they took me back and put a pill under my tongue. And then they got me straightened out, thanks to Peggy Kline. I believe she saved my life.”