Richard Jaffe has written poetry for over three decades, but is most recognized for being a successful entrepreneur and generous philanthropist. Inner Peace and Happiness: Reflections To Grow Your Soul is his first book of published poetry.
In 1975, Richard started Nutri-Foods International Inc., a company that manufactured and distributed Guido’s Italian Ices and frozen juice bars. After struggling for many years, Richard turned the company around, took the company public in 1984 and eventually sold it to The Coca Cola Company in 1985 where he 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.
The future looked very promising, with the company doubling revenues and with a no-calorie juice bar as well as a Coca Cola sparkling juice bar under development. Midway through his second year, Richard was summoned to Coca Cola’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta where he was told to slow down growth and simply maintain the business for two years while executives tried to fix growth problems at Coca Cola Foods. Richard told Chairman Roberto Goizueta that if he couldn’t grow the business, he couldn’t breathe. They agreed that he would leave the company after completing his second year to find another business he could grow.
Richard was thirty-four years of age when he left Coca Cola. “I decided to take a year off to continue writing poetry and to learn to play golf. After two months, I was itching for something to do and after three months, I needed people around me and a business to grow,” said Richard. Lucky, as he usually is, opportunity found Richard. In early 1988, through an acquaintance of his father, Richard was contacted about starting a latex glove company.
“I believe that you create wealth by anticipating future behavior changes and then providing solutions to future needs,” said Richard. “I quickly learned that in 1987 the Center for Disease Control had issued universal precautions (due to the AIDS crisis) and that all health care workers coming into contact with bodily fluids needed to wear gloves, masks and gowns. So I saw a behavior change: instead of wearing gloves for ten minutes a day, health care workers would wear gloves for ten hours a day. Though I didn’t know much about the medical business at the time, I did know how to run a business and how to create customer value,” said Richard.
Richard discovered 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. “What we really needed to do was design a glove that would protect the health care workers from the glove itself,” said Richard. His second company, Safeskin, was launched.
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 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 didn’t want any powder,” said Richard. “So the company developed the first hypoallergenic 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. Safeskin continues today as one of the world’s most trusted healthcare brands.
After the sale of Safeskin, Richard returned to philanthropy and poetry, but the entrepreneurial spirit struck a third time. In 2006, Richard was introduced to Triosyn, a novel and potentially life-saving antimicrobial technology capable of killing viruses. He recruited several of his former Safeskin executives and created Safe Life Corporation, a medical technology company. They are utilizing the Triosyn technology to commercialize a variety of products beginning with facemasks and respirators, air filtration systems and wound care. In the midst of this third company, Richard has set about to complete a life-long goal: the publication of his first book of poetry.
Even through unimaginable adversity and the most challenging times in business, poetry has always provided Richard with a vehicle to express his deepest emotions. “Family and friends are the most important things in life and writing poems to express my love for the people closest to me has allowed me to explore the innermost depths of my own peace and happiness,” said Richard. “At the most important occasions in my life (like asking my wife to marry me, the birth of each of my children and the death of someone close to someone I love), poetry has provided me with a tool to express my emotions, keep myself balanced and gain greater perspective on just how lucky I am to have family and friends who truly love me.”
Richard is a poet, a seasoned and successful entrepreneur, and a philanthropist. He is also a graduate of Cornell University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Labor Relations. Richard resides in La Jolla, California with his wife Ann. They have three grown children.