Philip “Flip” Kleffner, 30, who in college “walked on” to the University of Idaho football team, grew up dreaming of becoming a professional athlete “of whatever was in season,” he says. Later, at the halfway point in his college years, he decided to be a dentist. Then, when he took a year off between college and dental school, he started working at Wells Fargo Bank.
“As deadlines came and went, I just kept working at the bank. I got an opportunity to work in business banking,” he says. “I’d always wanted to be a business owner – now I could help other people be successful business owners.”
Adopting a strategy of “working harder than anybody else in the room,” Kleffner has already cut a wide swath of career success in three markets – Salt Lake City, Spokane and now southwest Idaho. “I don’t ever plan on being the smartest person in a room,” he says, “and while I’m okay with that, I will never be okay with not being the hardest working person.”
It is a strategy that has worked well. As a business relationship manager, he increased loan balances by $12.5 million and deposits by $25 million – a 58 percent increase over two years. Today, as business banking manager, he manages a team responsible for more than $200 million in deposits.
“Flip” Kleffner’s moniker comes from his grandpa, also a Philip/Flip. The two were close, in bond as well as location. “We lived in Moscow and my grandpa lived 100 yards away,” Kleffner says. “I am beyond blessed,” he says. “I am who I am, because of the numerous great examples I had as a kid. I am also blessed because I don’t even have to look outside my family to find the people that were the biggest influences for me.”
Kleffner’s namesake was a community leader and served on the city council. His maternal grandfather impressed Kleffner with his 4 a.m. wake-up work ethic. “I remember thinking ‘I’m going to wake up before Grandpa wakes up – but I could never do it,” he says. His mother, a dental hygienist, also was at work early every morning, by 5:30. And, “as I grew up people would constantly tell me how much they appreciated my dad and his ability to lead with the right decisions, even when it wasn’t popular. I can be proud of who I am because I am a product of them.”
Kleffner’s father worked for the University of Idaho athletic department, providing him an atmosphere of athletic leadership, work ethic and integrity. “There was nothing around me but people leading by example,” he says.
Professionally, Kleffner says being named business banking manager at Wells Fargo for southwest Idaho is his biggest accomplishment to date.
“The most significant personal accomplishment I’ve had is starting my family with my wife, Tara, over the last three years. We have two beautiful children, Tyce, 2, and Ivy, 6-months, and they have absolutely changed my life. They have instantly reminded me as to what’s important in life and how important family is.
“How do I make sure everyone understand how lucky I am? The challenge for me is filling those shoes.”
Not surprisingly, Kleffner, who is active in Leadership Boise, the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Vandal Scholarship Fund, enjoys any spare time he has with family. Favorite movies include Rudy, Caddyshack and Good Will Hunting, and his favorite music? Journey, Meatloaf, Foreigner, BTO, Boston and Queen. He likes classic rock music so much that he wanted to ditch his senior prom for a James Taylor concert. His mom intervened. “I lost that argument,” he says.
Finally, what would even close friends be surprised to know about Kleffner? “Growing up I played the drums for a couple of years. I played drums for the youth Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic church in Moscow.”
Most memorable airplane trip: “I remember flying to Disneyland as a kid and how excited I was to get there. I would admit that, as a kid going to Disneyland, I was excited enough that the flight was a blur. As an adult, a good flight is one that’s got good people-watching, a good drink, no turbulence, and nobody in the middle seat.”