Growing up in Iowa
Kris Gulick grew up on a farm outside of Garrison in Benton County. It was a typical small family farm with a few hundred acres that his Dad, Stuart Gulick, had bought before Kris was born.
His mom, Margaret Gulick, worked as a legal secretary until the farm could support the family when she became the farm’s bookkeeper and traditional farm wife. His parents often worked side-by-side to complete farm chores and raise their two children.
The Gulicks instilled in their children the need to volunteer in the community through their examples. They weren’t politically active and voted as independents, voting for the person rather than the party.
The Garrison School that Kris attended through fifth grade had 18 students divided evenly between boys and girls. Due to the school consolidation trend, Garrison schools merged with Vinton schools and Kris’ graduating class grew to 140.
College and early career
After high school, Kris planned to become a math teacher and coach. He enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa, but a challenging calculus course caused Kris to question his career path. He took a Myers-Briggs, and the results indicated he should be a teacher or a community parks and recreation director. He switched his major to Recreation Administration with a minor in business.
Jobs in his field were scarce in the early 1980s. Kris accepted a graduate assistant position with the Iowa Parks and Recreation Association. His job was to travel around the state, speaking to community leaders about the advantages of parks and recreation programs and running Amateur Softball Association softball tournaments.
In his role with the association, he also put his business minor to use, handling all the financials, from paying bills to payroll and creating financial statements.
During this time, he furthered his education by earning a master’s in Recreation Education from the University of Iowa.
After moving to Cedar Rapids in 1980, Kris met and married Deborah in 1983. There was little opportunity to advance in the parks and recreation field unless he moved out of Iowa, but Deborah, a CPA, had a good job in Cedar Rapids.
Kris decided to go into consulting, and for that, he needed an accounting degree. Soon after his first child was born, Kris quit his full-time job and enrolled at Coe College. With his minor in business, it only took him a summer and two semesters before he graduated with a bachelor’s in Accounting from Coe College in 1986. He has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1988.
Kris worked for several companies as an accountant, manager, and CFO for 16 years. In 1999, he was offered a job with a startup, which was eventually acquired by McCleod.
Kris began teaching at the college level, first teaching auditing at the University of Iowa in 2002 and then entrepreneurial finance at the University of Northern Iowa. He later taught financial reporting to non-finance majors in the master’s in Health Administration program. He loved teaching.
The Gulicks raised their son and daughter, grew their careers, and started a business in Cedar Rapids. Kris and Deborah started Entrepreneurial Services Group LLC in 2002 to provide outsourced executive accounting solutions to small and medium-sized organizations.
As they focused on serving clients and building their business, the Gulicks always made time to get involved in their community. Kris volunteered on the board of Goodwill Industries as its treasurer for 10 years. He and Deborah were active in the Chamber of Commerce on the membership and government relations committees.
Kris felt compelled to do more to build a robust local economy. During his 10 months in the Leadership for Five Seasons program, Kris began to think seriously about running for public office. At the time, Cedar Rapids was the last city in Iowa with a commission form of government. Operating a business full-time meant running for a full-time office wasn’t doable.
Then in 2005, Cedar Rapids citizens voted to adopt a home rule council-manager form of government. Kris ran for the District 1 seat and was elected. From 2006 to 2017, he was a member of a City Council that supported an “Open for Business” policy. He worked to grow the local economy through sound oversight, careful investment, and prioritizing community success.
Kris served on the City Council before and after the disastrous floods of 2008. He was driven to lead the city and region not only to recover but to thrive post-flood.
As a council member, he was active with the Iowa League of Cities. He is a certified elected municipal officer and served as president of the Iowa League of Cities and on the National League of Cities executive board. In those roles, Gulick said he was exposed to leaders from around the state and country and discovered their ideas, successes, and failures so that he could replicate their achievements locally. He was also active with the Kaufman Foundation, which helps support programs that increase entrepreneurship.
The Gulicks sold their business in 2017. Kris joined the Cedar Rapids startup EdgeData as part-time CFO the following year. A long-time small business owner and entrepreneur, Gulick serves on the Entrepreneurial Development Center board and is currently the Treasurer for The History Center. He continues to manage the family farm. His family has grown to include four grandchildren living with their parents in Eastern Iowa.
Kris is running for State Senate because he sees a need for Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha and Robins to have representation in Des Moines in the Republican party. He knows the decisions he’ll make in Des Moines will affect not only area residents but also his grandchildren for years to come.