David Jaffe, President and CEO of Ascena Retail Group Inc., named National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Family Business Award of Excellence winner

Jaffe honored for taking dressbarn - founded by his father in 1962 - to new heights

17 Nov, 2013, 03:00 ET from Ernst & Young

NEW YORK, Nov. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- David Jaffe, President and CEO of Ascena Retail Group, has been named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Family Business Award of Excellence winner at the EY Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Calif.

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David Jaffe spent a decade working on Wall Street, took time out to earn an MBA from Stanford, and joined the ranks of the venture capital world all before coming aboard the family business, dressbarn, founded by his mother and father in 1962. It was Jaffe's father Elliot, after all, who told him to gain more experience before taking on the challenges of the family business. It was while Jaffe was pursuing a career in venture capital with a focus on the retail and consumer products that he was finally "bitten by the entrepreneurial bug."

"Family businesses remain so important to the world's economy, as they think not in months, but in generations, and not always in rocketing share prices but in stability and resilience," said Bryan Pearce, EY Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year. "Jaffe is a great example of remaining true to the family culture and values while also embracing the best management practices that the corporate world has to offer."

Though Jaffe loved his career on Wall Street, he acknowledges that venture capital, which placed his focus on investing, was a little too hands-off for him. And, Jaffe had a young family, so the constant travel and long hours that come with the territory were not ideal. When his father came to him in 1992 and offered him a position within the company, Jaffe knew the time was right, for both his young family and his father's plans for the future, for him to make a move.

But it would be another decade before Jaffe would be named CEO. Jaffe joined the company as a vice president. This way, he spent time in various parts of the company – buying, the distribution center, opening new stores – helping him learn how all aspects of the business worked and giving him credibility.

Jaffe believes that credibility, from both the years learning the ins and outs of dressbarn and from his work on Wall Street, was important in moving the company from dressbarn, a very successful retailer, to Ascena Retail Group, an even more successful retail group. Not long after being named CEO, Jaffe, armed with a strong balance sheet and targeted focus, began to make strategic acquisitions including maurices, Justice and Charming Shoppes that became subdivisions of the larger holding company. In recognition of the changes taking place in the operation, the company restructured and renamed itself Ascena in early 2011.

According to Jaffe, 17 functions, including distribution, accounting, lease administration and legal services, are either centralized or in the process of being centralized. While the back-office work is consolidated into a single management structure, the headquarters stays in their hometown, and the management team stays in place, letting the subdivisions drive their own front ends.

The first 10 years of results are very promising, and Jaffe says he will carry his father's example to the next generation if they're interested in a leadership role in the family business.

National Family Business Award of Excellence 2013 finalists

In addition to Jaffe, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Family Business Award of Excellence finalists in the US were: Kenneth L. Robison, CEO, Crest Industries, LLC, based in Pineville, La.; Bob Unanue, President, Goya Foods, Inc., based in Secaucus, N.J.; and Kelly Grismer, President and Co‐founder, and Chad Grismer, CEO and Co-founder, The Wheat Group, Inc., based in San Diego, Calif.

National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Overall Award winner
Hamid Moghadam of Prologis was named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Overall Award winner.

Video and photos

To view photos of all of the Entrepreneur Of The Year winners, please visit www.ey.com/us/eoy.  

Founded and produced by EY, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored in the United States by SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 150 cities in over 60 countries.

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EY's worldwide Strategic Growth Markets Network is dedicated to serving the changing needs of high-growth companies. For more than 30 years, we've helped many of the world's most dynamic and ambitious companies grow into market leaders. Whether working with international mid-cap companies or early-stage venture-backed businesses, our professionals draw upon their extensive experience, insight and global resources to help your business succeed. For more information, please visit us at ey.com/us/strategicgrowthmarkets or follow news on Twitter @EY_Growth.

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