Passings: Erivan Haub

Erivan Haub
Erivan Haub

Erivan Haub, a longtime supporter of York University and one of the original benefactors of the Schulich School of Business, passed away March 6 at the age of 85.

Erivan Haub
Erivan Haub

In 1991, Haub and his wife Helga donated $1.5 million to Schulich, which led to the establishment of it Erivan K. Haub Program in Business and Sustainability – one of the very first programs of its kind in the world.

“The Haub endowment was a watershed moment for our school,” said
Dezsö Horváth, dean of Schulich. “The focus on business and sustainability at an early stage in Schulich’s history became a signature element of our school’s DNA. The Haub program also served as the catalyst for our school’s expansion into related areas such as business ethics, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance.”

Born in 1932 in Wiesbaden, Germany to Elisabeth and Erich Haub, Erivan Haub became one of the most successful German business entrepreneurs, building the Tengelmann Group into an international retail empire spanning Europe and North America, including the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P).

After graduating high school, he completed his retail apprenticeship and then entered a traineeship program in North America in the early 1950s, where he worked at several prominent food retailers in Chicago and Los Angeles and for an import-export company in Cuba. Following his return home, he studied at the University of Hamburg under famous economist Professor Karl Schiller and graduated from the University of Mainz with a degree in economics. Haub met his wife while studying in Hamburg, and they married in 1958. They were blessed with three boys, Karl-Erivan, Georg and Christian, who were all born in Tacoma, Wash.

Haub entered the family business in Germany in 1963, and following the death of his uncle in 1969, he assumed the leadership of the Tengelmann Group in the fourth generation. He skillfully grew the company by acquiring key competitors and launching innovative new concepts to become Germany’s largest supermarket operator. In 1979, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of expanding to America by investing in the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, the country’s oldest supermarket business. He continued to diversify the Tengelmann Group, expanding his food retail business across Europe, investing in home improvement retail enterprise OBI in Germany and launching the clothing discount retailer KiK. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Haub entered new markets in eastern Europe, fuelling the company’s growth and culminating in the Tengelmann Group becoming one of the largest privately owned retail companies in the world.

Besides pursuing his business goals, he was also passionate about the environment. Inspired by his mother, who was one of the first environmentalists in Germany in the late 1960s, Haub embraced sustainable business practices throughout his business enterprise, long before they became mainstream, and he won numerous awards and recognition for his leadership in this area. He went on to create the world’s first university chair in business and the environment at York University in Toronto in 1991. Together with his wife, he established the Helga Otto Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming in 2004.

“The Haub program was also one of the key building blocks for transforming Schulich into a world leader in the field of responsible business,” said Horváth, noting that because of the program, every Schulich student today graduates with thorough exposure to the wider responsibilities of business toward the environment and society.

In order to strengthen the German-American relationship, he established the Erivan Karl Haub Executive Conference Center at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia in 1988, followed by the Haub School of Business in 1997. He also became a lead benefactor of the the George C. Marshall International Center in Leesburg, Va. For his accomplishments in fostering the German-American friendship, he received the Dr. Leo M. Goodman Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 1996. At Pace University in New York, he helped to establish the Elisabeth Haub School of Law in 2016, to honour his mother and to support their highly regarded environmental law program.

In 2004, the Federal Republic of Germany awarded him the Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s highest civil award for his lifetime achievements and contributions in business, culture, society and, especially, the environment.

At the beginning of the new millennium, Haub transferred the leadership of the Tengelmann Group to his sons Karl-Erivan and Christian, and took over the role of chairman of the company’s advisory board. Following his 80th birthday, and after 50 years of successful engagement in the retail industry, he retired and retreated into private life.

“Erivan Haub was not only one of our school’s earliest benefactors, but also one of our strongest and most steadfast supporters,” said Horváth. “Although he will be greatly missed, his name and his legacy will live on at Schulich through the groundbreaking program he endowed.”

He passed away peacefully on his beloved ranch in Pinedale, Wyo. Haub is survived by his wife, Helga; his son Karl-Erivan and his wife, Katrin, with their children, Viktoria and Erivan; his son Georg with his children, Robert, Alexander and Sarina; and his son Christian and his wife, Liliane, with their children, Marie-Liliane, Maximilian, Anna-Sophia and Constantin.