Fred Haas (’51) is truly a self-made man with a vision — and a proud Cougar. Amiable and unassuming, his name is synonymous with his radio ads: Fred Haas Toyota World! Fred Haas Toyota Country! With one of the top performing car dealerships in the nation, Haas has more than 700 employees, many of whom send their own children to the University of Houston. With nearly 50 years in the business, he has made his mark on the automotive scene in Houston.
When asked what brought him such success, he answers: “I’ve worked for myself all my life.” Being entrepreneurial has certainly been a successful path for Haas. As a 22 year old, he owned an appliances business, purchased a second at the age of 27, and sold them both when he was 30. With his savings, he began to buy and sell cars. Since 1978, his dealerships have grown and flourished. Now his expansive inventory and philanthropic giving are helping to strengthen the University of Houston Athletics Program.
Driven To Give
Haas is a Wheels Club Member, but bringing joy and transportation to UH community members is just one of the many ways Haas gives back to the University. His journey began after high school — UH stood out to him over the other Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi colleges that tried to recruit him to play football. “The coaching staff at UH made the difference for me,” he remembers. “I had a football scholarship and even though we started out in an army barracks, we had the finest young men playing and the best coaches.”
Haas recently made a gift to the Indoor Football Practice Facility. In the words of Hunter Yurachek, vice president of UH Athletics, “An indoor practice facility will continue to provide the best possible tools for our program to recruit and compete at a national level. We are thankful that Fred Haas, along with a large number of our proud supporters, value this facility’s importance for our program, and more importantly, for our student-athlete experience as we continue to build champions for life.”
Momentum In The Right Direction
A number of student-athletes were able to hear Haas’ story at a recent gathering at President Renu Khator’s residence, the Wortham House. “President Khator is a great leader, and will surely take our University to new heights,” remarks Haas. The students were regaled with stories of the very early days of UH football, and the legendary coaches who helped them achieve greatness.
When asked what the University could do even better, Haas pauses. “What you’re doing right now is impressive,” he answers. “Improving, working, moving forward, moving upward — all this is happening right now!” He is especially excited about the $1 billion “Here, We Go” Campaign, and looks forward to what the University will accomplish by 2020. In the meantime, he travels (he has been to 32 countries and has frequented Hawaii for conferences over the years), watches his young grandson play football and attends UH games. Staying active and staying involved has kept Haas in business this long — and promises to be a fountain of youth for this former football star.
-Sarah F. Hill