Who Is Richard Jaffe?
In 1975, Richard started Nutri-Foods International, a company that manufactured and distributed Guido’s Italian Ices and frozen juice bars. After struggling for many years, he enlisted his parents and brother to help and together they turned the company around, took the company public in 1984 and eventually sold it to The Coca Cola Company in 1985 where they renamed the product “Minute Maid Fruit Juicees.” After the acquisition, Mr. Jaffe remained President of Nutri-Foods and served on the executive operating committee of The Coca Cola Foods Division for the next 2 years.
In 1988, Richard was introduced to a businessman who wanted to start a latex glove company. With the exploding AIDS epidemic and the government declaration of universal precautions, every health care worker needed to wear gloves and change them between each patient. Those two events created an enormous glove shortage. When Richard explored the opportunity, he found a huge problem: the latex used in making gloves had always been treated with chemicals that if not removed could cause skin rashes if it came in contact with your skin for long periods of time. Since nurses and doctors started wearing latex gloves ten hours per day instead of ten minutes per day, he saw a significant customer behavior change he thought they could take advantage of. “What we really needed to do was design a glove that would protect the health care worker from the glove itself,” said Richard. They then launched his second company, SafeSkin Corp.
In 1989, SafeSkin was granted FDA approval to market a hypoallergenic latex exam glove. “We took the approved product and asked our customers: “How do you like our new hypo-allergenic gloves and how can we make them better?” They responded, “Could you give us a glove with a little less powder?” What I really heard them say is that they really didn’t want any powder,” said Richard. “So listening to our customers’ needs, the company developed the first hypo-allergenic powder free latex exam glove. Once we introduced it, we knew we had a winner. We ran production twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for eight years and couldn’t keep up. By 2000, we were making 6.5 billion gloves a year!” Under Richard’s leadership, SafeSkin went public in 1993, was voted Forbes Magazine’s “Best Small Company in America” in 1996, and was purchased by Kimberly Clark Corporation in 2000.
Leveraging his success in business, Richard turned his attention to philanthropy. In 2000, Richard, his wife Ann, and Richard’s parents Irving and Eleanor Jaffe gave the lead gift and led a campaign to raise an initial $36 million to build a new 42-acre campus for the San Diego Jewish Academy. Today, they have helped raise over $75 million dollars for SDJA, and the school now serves over 600 students from pre-K through 12th grade. In 2018, it was recognized as one of the top 50 private schools in the United States, being awarded the coveted Blue Ribbon designation.
In 2004, Richard became a part owner of the NBA Phoenix Suns and in 2007 he published a book of Poetry entitled “Inner Peace and Happiness – Reflections to Grow Your Soul.” Richard currently mentors young entrepreneurs on starting and scaling new ventures. He is a seasoned and successful entrepreneur, a published poet, NBA owner and philanthropist. He is also a graduate of Cornell University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. Richard and his wife Ann have three grown children and currently reside in La Jolla, California.