Robert Michael Haft is an entrepreneur, primarily in health care, and became a household name in the Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and Los Angeles markets for his Crown Books television commercial tagline, "Books cost too much".
Robert M. Haft
|Known for||Founder, Crown Books, Main Street Lender, Morgan Noble|
Haft earned a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1974. He simultaneously earned an MBA from Harvard Business School as well as a master's degree from Harvard's School of Design.
Based on a thesis he wrote in business school, Haft founded Crown Books, a discount book chain and a subsidiary of the Dart Group, in 1977 after traveling around the country for five months learning about the book business. His father, Herbert Haft, funded the initiative. In 1979 he and his father founded a discount automotive chain called Trak Auto, which sold auto parts and accessories such as mufflers, batteries, pressure gauges, and seat cushions for 35% to 51% below suggested retail price. They also founded Cabot Morgan real estate company, Dart Financial, and purchased an interest in Shoppers Food Warehouse.
In 1982 he was appointed president and chief operating officer of the its parent company, Dart Group, which made him "one of the youngest executives to head a major national company" at 29 years old. Crown Books enjoyed booming success in the early 1980s and 1990s, and Haft expanded the chain rapidly, and envisioned expanding the name to other lines, including Crown Software and Crown Music, some of which never saw actualization.
In the heat of a bitter divorce, Robert's father, Herbert Haft, then Chairman of the Dart Group, which owned a controlling share of Crown Books and Trak Auto, fired the Board of Directors of Dart Group, Crown Books, and Trak Auto, and Robert Haft as the book chain and automotive chains president. Robert countersued and won all claims; Dart Group and Crown Books were ordered to pay him about $34 million in compensation. After he left both previously successful chains fell into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
With a portion of the money from the sale of his interest in Dart Group, and proceeds from a 1994 wrongful-termination lawsuit, Haft purchased Phar-Mor discount drug chain in 1995, founded and grew Vitamins.com, which had internet, retail, and catalog operations, and has led National Diabetic Pharmacies and other health care businesses. In 1997, he founded Morgan Noble Healthcare Partners, a private company that invests in healthcare services and healthcare technology, which has invested in companies like Privia Healthcare, Captify Health, and Carestream Health.
In 2005 he founded MainStreet Lender, which provides lending services for small business borrowers.
He is married to Mary Haft.
He is additionally on the board of directors for Canadian book company Indigo.
- "Herbert and Robert Haft: The Dynasty Behind Dart's Expanding Empire", New York Times, January 25, 1987
- "'Our Destiny is in Our Hands' Says Phar-Mor CEO Haft, Drug Store News, October 9, 1995
- "Phar-Mor's Haft to Step Down", Drug Store News, September 8, 1997
- "Crown Books Company History", International Directory of Company Histories Volume 21, St James Press, 1998
- "Private Sector: Denouement of a Family Feud?", New York Times, June 20, 1999
- "Robert Haft Biography" Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine, University of Pennsylvania Press, September 2007
- "The Media Business: Aggressive Discounting Pays Off for Crown Books", New York Times, June 25, 1990
- "The Growing Battle of the Big Bookstores", New York Times, November 8, 1992
- "Herbert Haft, Founder of Discount Drugstores, Dies at 84", New York Times, September 4, 2004
- Robert D. Hershey, Jr., "A Reopening of Wounds in Haft Family Struggle", New York Times, September 12, 1994
- "Wharton Launches New Family Business Fellows Program Modeled on Successful Entrepreneur-in-Residence Series Now in Tenth Year".
- "Robert Michael Haft MBA". Bloomberg. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- Rudolph A. Pyatt Jr. (1 October 1982). "Robert M. Haft Succeeds Father as Head of Dart". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
- Nash, Nathaniel C. (25 January 1987). "Washington Raiders: Herbert and Robert Haft; The Dynasty Behind Dart's Expanding Empire". New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- Keith Bradsher, "Jury Rules Haft Wrongfully Dismissed Son", New York Times, September 21, 1994
- "Dart Group Corporation History". Funding Universe. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- "Morgan Noble: About Us". Morgan Noble. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- Nancy Doyle Palmer, "My Best Friend. They inspire each other. They look out for each other. They laugh and cry together. These 12 women have friendships built on love and loyalty", Washingtonian, March 1, 2008
- "$2 Million Gift from Alumnus to Support Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program and Wharton Fund". University of Pennsylvania Almanac. 54 (7). 9 October 2007.
- "INDIGO'S BOARD OF DIRECTORS".
- "The Haft Rivalry rides herd on the Internet", Nightscribe.com, 1995