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Peter Haas

by Academy of Achievement

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Description

Peter Haas (1918 – 2005) was the chairman and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., succeeding his father Walter A. Haas. The company was founded by his great-granduncle in 1850. Haas was the patriarch of the San Francisco family that controls Levi Strauss and spent the bulk of his 60-year career building the company, with his brother Walter Haas Jr., into the world's largest brand-name garment manufacturer. Peter Haas was reluctant to join the family business. As a teen, he had watched the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge from his bedroom window and developed an interest in engineering. With the start of World War II, he tried to join the Air Force, but was thwarted by his poor eyesight. He graduated from the University of California in 1940 and later enrolled at Harvard Business School. In 1943, he graduated as a Baker Scholar, one of the school's top honors, and took a job as a riveter for an aircraft defense contractor. The experience gave Haas an understanding of the conditions of blue-collar workers, an awareness that would help mold his management style as president of Levi Strauss. Known as a benevolent and self-effacing man, Mr. Haas had unyielding commitment to corporate ethics and for championing blue-collar workers. He and his older brother led the company through a period of massive growth. Under their leadership, Levi Strauss capitalized on post-war demographic changes, marketing an extended line of blue jeans to young people. By 1971, when the family company went public, Levi Strauss had 20,000 employees worldwide. His interests and influence extended far beyond the world of blue jeans. As a philanthropist, Haas donated millions of dollars to a wide array of cultural, educational and religious organizations. The Haas family gave $27 million to the University of California, which renamed their business school, the Haas School of Business. It was the largest gift in the university's history. Peter Haas participated in the 1996 Achievement Summit in Sun Valley, Idaho and spoke to the student delegates about his role in transforming a small maker of Western apparel into one of the world's most famous clothing brands.

Peter Haas
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  • Free
  • Category: Management
  • Language: English

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