Former MasterBrand chairman and CEO dies at 84

Former MasterBrand CEO and 34-year Aristokraft/MasterBrand company veteran, Gilbert “Gib” Verkamp, 84, of Jasper, died at 2:35 am on Nov. 26, 2023, at his Santa Claus, Indiana, home surrounded by family.

 Under Verkamp's leadership at Aristokraft/MasterBrand Cabinets Inc., the company went from a small regional player to becoming the most recognizable cabinet company in North America. 

In a statement from the company, Verkamp was lauded for his accomplishments. "We are saddened to learn of the passing of Gilbert “Gib” Verkamp, former president of MasterBrand Cabinets. 

"Thank you to 'Gib' for giving so much of himself to MasterBrand Cabinets and for all the contributions he made as leader of our organization for so many years. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time." 

In 1968, he started with Aristokraft/MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. as assistant to the president and founder, Stan Krempp. Verkamp became president in the early 1980s when Aristokraft was about $20 million in annual sales, according to a Dubois County Free Press story about his induction into a local business hall of fame. 

According to the Free Press story, through organic growth and acquisitions, the company was worth nearly $800 million when he retired in 2000. He led the company through its first major acquisition which was the Schrock Companies in the mid-’90s. This acquisition led to its channel strategy and current success.

Today, MasterBrand Cabinets Inc. is now an FDMC300 listed company, ranking #3 of the largest wood products manufacturers in North America with 2022 sales of $3.3 billion and employing more than 14,000 workers.

Obituary

He was born in Huntingburg, Indiana, on May 4, 1939, to John and Wilhelmina (Schipp) Verkamp.

He married Catherine Hoffman on May 11, 1968, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Jasper. They were married for 44 years before she preceded him in death on December 28, 2012. 

Following the death of his wife, Verkamp reconnected with a childhood neighbor, Rita Uebelhor, and they were married on February 28, 2015, at St. Meinrad Archabbey.

He was a 1957 graduate of Huntingburg High School and a 1961 graduate of Indiana State University. He retired as Chairman and CEO of MasterBrand Cabinets in 2000 after a 32-year career with the company.

Verkamp was a recipient of the Boy Scout Distinguished Citizen Award and an inductee into the Junior Achievement Dubois County Business Hall of Fame. He served as president of the Indiana State University Alumni Association and the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, as Board Chair of Freedom Bank and Indiana Furniture, and as a founding Board member of the Dubois County Community Foundation.

He is survived by his wife, Rita Verkamp of Santa Claus; children, Max (Jen) Verkamp of Jasper and Ann (John) Kvach of Huntsville, Ala.; grandchildren, Lauren, Ryan, and Erin Verkamp and Ben and Tom Kvach; two sisters, Virlee “Perk” Kreilein of Jasper and Sr. Mary Ann Verkamp, OSB of Ferdinand; one brother, Bernard Verkamp of Vincennes; extended family, Beth (Jarid) Hirt of Santa Claus, Don Alan (Roxanne) Snyder of Santa Claus, and Sara (Rich) Fischer of Evansville, their children and grandchildren.

Preceding him in death are his parents, his first wife Catherine, his sister Sr. Mary Aquin Verkamp, OSB, and his brothers Robert Verkamp and Francis “Frank” Verkamp.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. EST on Thursday, November 30, 2023, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Jasper, with burial to follow in Fairview Cemetery. Friends may call from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, at the Becher-Kluesner Downtown Chapel in Jasper or 9:00 a.m. EST on Thursday morning before the Mass at St. Joseph’s.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).