Sometimes the right opportunity comes along at the right time, even in a pandemic. That’s what happened to Robert Haas.

While working in his former role as Chief Financial Officer at The Swain School in Allentown, Haas became aware of an opportunity at Allentown Economic Development Corporation. AEDC was preparing to hire a new controller as current Controller Ken Vance was planning to retire in the near future. So Haas submitted his resume to AEDC, had a few rounds of interviews, and then was offered the position.

Haas started his position at the end of September and is onboarding with Vance to coordinate a seamless transition of responsibilities in the weeks ahead. “This all came together rather neatly,” Haas remarked.

During his 18 years as CFO with The Swain School he wore many hats, from accounting, purchasing, and human resources, to helping out with things like maintenance, transportation, and even landscaping and food service when needed. Prior to that, he spent 17 years with Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown, initially as a Reimbursement Specialist and later as its Controller. With the upcoming merger of Swain School with the larger Moravian Academy, Haas felt that it was a good time for him to move on. “I felt now was a great time to do something new,” he said.

Settling into economic development

“This will be an entirely new experience for me. I’m looking forward to getting to meet the clients we work with in our incubation program, as well as our community partners,” he said. “I’ve already toured the Allentown Metal Works site across the street and hope to soon tour other sites that AEDC owns and manages in the city.”

When it comes to what he likes best about the work that AEDC does in the city, he mentions bringing manufacturing jobs to Allentown, as well as the reuse of old buildings and the organization’s property management role. “Our organization is helpful to the community and the city, and that’s something I’m happy to play a part in.”

A personal work philosophy for a team player

As someone who spends many years at a position before moving on, Haas is an experienced team player. “I view my position as supporting the people I work with. I’m part of an internal infrastructure. AEDC runs an incubation program for entrepreneurs, finances businesses in need, and provides property management services. So customer service is extremely important. While I may not directly interact with our organization’s customers every day, my colleagues here do. So I want to help make it easier for them to do their jobs by doing a good job at my own. I want to provide them with the information they need to succeed. That’s what being part of a team is all about to me.”

He also takes a very personal approach to his work philosophy. “I try to treat every decision I make as if the sign out front has my name on it, as if it were my personal business. I try to do what’s best for the business every day. That’s how I was raised. At the end of every work day I like to grade my performance,” he explained. “My self-rating levels are: 1. They got a bargain today, (I kicked butt); 2. A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work (a good day, but not spectacular); 3. I stole a good day’s wage (felt like I was further ahead at the beginning of the day than at the end). Every day I want to feel proud of the work I do and the day’s accomplishments.”

Lehigh Valley born and raised

Haas grew up in Kutztown and graduated from Moravian College where he majored in accounting, followed by achieving his MBA at Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre.

Haas resides in Wescoesville with his wife of 38 years, his high school sweetheart from Kutztown High School. They have two children, a son who lives in Tampa and a daughter who lives in Macungie.

When he’s not busy balancing the books at AEDC, he can be found playing golf or taking on landscaping projects around home where he takes pride in manicuring his lawn.