Michael O’Laughlin and Mathew Kaiser
Chris Haverkamp, founder and CEO of Paragon Investments, took some time out of his busy schedule to visit the Student Fellows of CRMER Friday, February 25th. As a K-State grad, Chris was equally as excited to meet with the Fellows as much as they were to get together with him. Chris has built his unique and diverse risk management and investment company from the ground up obtaining much success in the process.
Chris started the meeting off by expressing to the students how lucky we are to be getting an education at Kansas State. He credited a lot of who he is today to the experiences he had at the university, stating that it helped, “Grow his mind.” Chris challenged the students to look at all different fields of classes, not just ones pertaining to one’s major. With these new perspectives, the student can achieve a similar growth that Chris experienced.
At age 16 Mr. Haverkamp made his first trade and was compelled to pursue a career that included his interests of agriculture, business, and financing. After spending some time dealing with commodities after graduation, Chris realized his desire to become a consultant. Learning from others mistakes was something Chris learned to practice at a young age. In his early career, Chris used this way of thinking to analyze how to most effectively run a business. One large problem was the “used car salesman” feeling that came with trading commodities and futures. This created a conflict of interest between parties that was detrimental to the relationship between a company and a customer. The founding of Paragon combatted this stigma and strengthened the standards of business by creating authentic relationships with customers. The lessons Chris learned early, especially his learning “what not to do” mentality, are apparent through his story of success.
Chris, like many individuals from the midwest, stressed the importance of hard work. This characteristic is visible through many of Chris’ business philosophies. Chris will work hard for his customer, to satisfy and serve. Chris and Paragon go through difficulties to set customer expectations right from the first meeting through educating the customer and giving them the tools they need to help guide their success. In addition to hard work, Chris values high standards of ethics. A strong ethical compass has helped breed a trust between customers and Paragon while helping create a more stable business. Chris’ defined business philosophies have developed Paragon’s unique identity.
As our time with Chris came to an end, we were fortunate enough to be able to ask questions to dig deeper into Chris’ ideologies and business practices. Important lessons learned through this focus on building trust and meaningful relations between business parties. As us Student Fellows graduate and begin our careers, we will be better off for our time spent with Chris. We are very grateful for the opportunity that we have been given through Chris’ involvement and support of the Center for Risk Management Education and Research.