Piet Laan’s father immigrated from Holland to Middleton, Idaho. He didn’t speak English and he had no work. But the Laans settled into the welcoming community where they built a successful dairy business and raised their family.
Piet stayed in the community after marriage and also raised his family in Middleton where all three of their children graduated from Middleton High.
Piet is so attached to the community that welcomed his immigrant parents and supported his kids in sports and education that he wanted to give back and did so by serving the last 10 years on the Middleton School District’s Board of Trustees.
“Being on the board is very interesting because you get to see the interworking of schools,” Piet said. “The interest is when these Middleton kids graduate from high school and you get to see where they end up in life.”
This may be Piet’s last term, which ends in 2017, since his kids have graduated and moved on into their adult lives.
“It’s always good for some young blood to join the board,” Piet said.
Piet was raised in the Middleton farming community and he spent about 15 years after high school working on his parents’ dairy farm for 15 years. He transitioned into selling farming equipment at age 30. He works for Interwest Supply, Inc in Caldwell selling pivots – a form of overhead sprinkler irrigation consisting of several segments of pipe.
“My job is fun, I get to go out and meet with farmers on a daily basis,” Piet said. “Working in rural areas give you a different perspective about life. All the farmers are nice.”
Piet says his job is different every day.
“I drive out and see different farmers – if they have an issues with irrigation I go out and troubleshoot,” Piet said. “This time of year everyone is going into the harvest mode, I’m setting up a lot of projects for the fall.”
Piet is a first-generation American.
“I have a lot of relatives in Holland and try to visit as often as I can. I still speak Dutch,” Piet said.
Piet and his wife Mary have two sons who both graduated from the University of Idaho and their daughter attends Eastern Oregon University studying education. Mary is a counselor at Notus Elementary School with more than 30 years of experience.
“I do take advice from my wife when it comes to education and life in general,” Piet said. “My wife and I love to travel. Our daughter plays college basketball so we travel to the games a lot.”
Longtime friend of more than 37 years Matt Newton said Piet is always prepared with a new joke and puts people at ease.
“He has a great sense of humor and is a man of his word. Piet will listen and then react, he’s not agenda driven on the school board,” Newton said.
Mike Okamura a friend of the Laan Family knows Piet as the big baseball stud in high school.
“He was such a great athlete,” said Okamura. “He’s always going to ball games in the community and he’s a big supporter of the Middleton area.”
Fun facts about Piet Laan
- Hometown? Middleton
- What is your favorite Starbucks drink? Tall black coffee
- What are the first three songs on your current music playlist? Any songs that include George Thorogood or Boston
- Three things you can’t live without? Coffee, Kindle and a good steak
- You just got a free plane ticket to go anywhere. Where are you going? I would go to Holland – I have a lot of relatives there and it would be nice to go back
- What are some words of encouragement you can offer? Work hard in school and when you go to college pick something that you will enjoy. You only go in life’s loop one time and have fun doing it
- Who has been the biggest influence on your life? My dad – he came to the United States not knowing the language and built a dairy business. He showed me what the American dream was all about
- If you could have any other profession besides your current one, what would you do? I like the cattle ranch business my son does. It’s something different and you are working with animals