If “old-school” is defined as being a good story-teller, a problem solver, an industry veteran with a deep reservoir of integrity and a pinch of fun, Dave Haun is as old-school as they come.
Haun, owner of Haun Potato Co., Lenexa, Kan., simply solves problems, one observer said.
“What we love about Dave is his ability to get things done,” Heith Gordon, sales manager for Idaho Fall, Idaho-based Walker Produce. “He just gets it done.”
Having worked as a potato inspector at a young age and side by side with his dad in the family business for decades, Haun brings unmatched knowledge of the potato industry, Gordon said.
“Guys like Dave, the old-school guys, they know what to expect during the season, whether at harvest or during the sweat, during spring and late spring,” he said. “He works to make sure that not only the customer is taken care of, but we are taken care of as well."
Haun said a simple way to express what he believes is “fairness to all parties concerned.”
“It is one thing to learn that term, it’s another thing to be able to do it,” he said.
2017 has been a year of recognition for Haun. In August, he was recognized for his charitable work and service to the Midwest produce industry, receiving The Packer’s Jan Fleming Produce Legacy Award at the 2017 Midwest Produce Expo.
Haun has continued the annual tradition of donating tons of potatoes to the Salvation Army, with about 1.5 million pounds donated since his father Dick “Spud” Haun began the tradition in 1982.
Dick Haun opened the potato brokerage in 1965 and ran the company until 1990, handing the reins to Dave. The elder Haun died in 2016 at age 91.
While he went to Kansas State University and majored in architectural engineering, Dave Haun said that carrying on the legacy of his father is something he eventually fully embraced.
“I never wanted to do anything but continue the first-rate type of professionalism that I had around me,” he said.
Deflecting praise for his generosity, Haun said that seeing needs and responding to them is second nature.
“You don’t have to go out and hunt for ways to help people, the need is out there,” he said. “It is just a matter of talking to people, hearing about their needs and when you can, go right ahead and do it,” he said.
Haun said serving customers and suppliers is still essential to longevity in the business.
Even with the trend toward consolidation, Haun believes companies with a firm handle on quality and service can still thrive.