Following a forty-five year career in the baking industry, the American Bakers Association’s senior adviser to the president & CEO Dave Van Laar has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2020.
Van Laar has served in his current role since 2017, and prior to his current position, he led the Biscuit & Cookie Manufacturers Association (B&CMA) as President following his term as the organization’s industry chair.
During Van Laar’s tenure as ABA’s senior adviser to the president and CEO, he played a critical role in developing ABA educational programs as well as leading the merger and implementation of B&CMA to ABA. In the process, he served as a champion for establishing strong relationships within the organization and contributed significantly to the merger’s success.
“Dave’s far-reaching accomplishments in this industry are a direct reflection of the passion he has for this industry,” said Robb MacKie, president & CEO, American Bakers Association. “Dave has always shared easily and patiently the broad array of technical expertise and deep knowledge garnered through decades of experience. We are all grateful to his dedicated service to the industry.
“I am here today because special people took an interest in me long ago and mentored me,” said Dave Van Laar. “I would love to impart what I have learned over the last 45 years to those coming up in the industry.
Prior to his work with ABA, Van Laar served in a variety of leadership roles. From 2001-2013, he served as president & CEO of Oak State Products in Wenona, Illinois, followed by the position of Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. While there the business grew into a major competitor in the contract manufacturing arena by establishing strong relationship with national branded companies.
From 1993-2001, Van Laar held a variety of positions within President Baking Company in Atlanta, Georgia. He started as the director of logistics and moved on to become the vice president of technical services, leading the teams responsible for developing the Murray Sugar Free line and integrating the Famous Amos business, among many other responsibilities. He eventually facilitated with the acquisition of President Baking Company by Keebler company.
Beginning in 1980 until his time at President Baking Company, Van Laar held multiple leadership positions in various locations throughout the United States with Pepperidge Farm Inc., a division of Campbell Soup Co. During his 13 years at Pepperidge Farm, he oversaw operations in several facilities as general manager and plant manager and grew customer relationships throughout the production, operations, and supply chains.
Van Laar’s commitment to his community is centered in his deep faith. In his retirement, he looks forward to pursuing his personal passions full time as Director of Pastoral Care at Christ Community Church and Police & Fire Chaplain in Ottawa, Illinois. He also looks forward to spending more time with his wife of nine years, Carol Van Laar.
“I have worked with excellent people at excellent companies,” said Van Laar. “Being involved with police and fire personnel, I understand the family atmosphere. The same exists in the baking industry.”