For Immediate Release January 13, 2005
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
Charles Kleman, cell: (239) 707-4605/Ryan DiMillo, cell: (716) 998-9334
SUNY GENESEO FRATERNITY HOUSE UNDERGOING "EXTREME MAKEOVER"
Chicos Executive, class of 1975, is funding renovations
GENESEO, N.Y. Some homes have repairs made on them. Others are renovated. And then there are the rare few who undergo extreme makeovers.
The Delta Kappa Tau (DKT) fraternity at the State University of New York at Geneseo is in the midst of that rare extreme makeover, thanks to one of its alumnus brothers Charles Kleman, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Chicos Fashions Inc., headquartered in Ft. Myers, Fla.
Kleman, who graduated from the college in 1975 and serves on the Geneseo Foundations Board of Directors, became the mortgage holder of the home at 17 Franklin St. in December. He opted to go all out and immediately renovate the 3,000 square foot, 12-room home inside and out before the start of the spring semester, rather than wait until summer break. So, he dispatched contractors who are used to opening Chicos stores to Geneseo to ensure a speedy and quality renovation.
"This is Extreme Makeover Greek style," said Art Hatton, president of the Geneseo Foundation and vice president for college advancement for SUNY Geneseo. "This is a generous gesture that reflects Charlie Kleman's strong loyalty to the college and fraternity and, as the new landlord, he has made clear his expectations that the renovated property be kept in good condition."
Contractors already have put on a new roof, and new windows for the entire house were delivered Tuesday. By the time the project is completed, the home will have new flooring throughout, as well as new kitchen cabinets and appliances, toilets and entry doors. In addition, the house is being equipped with multiple smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as emergency lighting. The interior is being painted the fraternitys colors maroon and white throughout. The exterior will be painted the same colors this summer, when crews also will build a gazebo top for the patio.
The DKT fraternity members, who formed a Limited Liability Company, which provides limited personal liability for debts and obligations, so they could own the home, have lived in the home since 1995. They approached Kleman with a proposal during his recent visits to Geneseo. A member of the fraternity throughout all of his years at Geneseo, Kleman wanted to give back.
"It just seems like a great college with a lot of great goals," Kleman said. "It just seemed like there was a lot going on."
"It is a beautiful house," said Kleman, who lives in Ft. Myers, where the womens clothing and accessories retailer is based. He plans to visit Jan. 22 to check out the work.
A native of Waterloo, N.Y., Kleman spent his early career in upstate New York, in Waterloo, Rochester and Syracuse. In 1988, he joined Chicos, which since has grown from 12 stores to more than 656 stores across the nation, including one in Pittsford, N.Y.
As an executive of Chicos, he is responsible for accounting, financial reporting, management information systems, investor relations and overall management of the distribution center.
Kleman, who received his bachelors in management science from Geneseo, is an active alumnus. He joined the Geneseo Foundation Boards of Directors in 2002 and is a charter member of the Florida-based Geneseo Advocates.
Geneseo junior Ryan DiMillo, house president of the fraternity, is one of four fraternity brothers spending his winter break helping to renovate the home. He is one of seven of the fraternitys 20-plus members who live in the house.
"Flat out, this is the greatest thing to happen to the fraternity since 1871," said DiMillo, referring to the date the fraternity was formed.
"We can actually do it right," said the communication and business major from Lockport, N.Y., whose parents, Ange and Susan Pepe DiMillo, graduated from Geneseo in 1977. "We love this house, so we want to keep it in good condition as much as possible."
Bob Morin of Tennessee constructs Chicos stores in other parts of the country. Kleman called him right before the holidays about this project, and now Morin is overseeing a 12-member crew at the Franklin site.
"This is the only way to get this done," said Morin, adding Klemen wanted to renovate the interior right away. "The students needed someplace decent."
"We just went hog wild," said Morin. "Charlies a very generous person."
Benjamin Weinheimer, a junior accounting major from Syracuse, is also working on the renovations.
"Finally, our dreams were realized," said Weinheimer. "Charlie came up on alumni weekend and said, What do you guys need?"