Ronald Frasch

Ronald Frasch, B.S.’70

Merchandising Maven

By Carol Olechowski

If Saks Fifth Avenue President and Chief Merchandising Officer Ron Frasch had a career objective when he was 17, “it wasn’t the fashion industry.” He initially attended Ohio University to study journalism. After considering finances and proximity to home, however, the Glens Falls native transferred to what was then SUNY Albany and opted for a business major instead.

“I was very proud to be accepted at Albany,” recalls Frasch. “To be able to succeed in a very competitive environment was really important.” That setting, combined with “extremely talented professors and extremely bright students,” reinforced his determination “to get my degree and find a job.”

Frasch did both, but it took him a while to settle into the right career. Senior year, he had sold mutual funds, and when he graduated, “I started doing that full time. But I was not very good at it, and I really didn’t like it.” Frasch interviewed elsewhere but “couldn’t find a job.” Eventually hired at Bloomingdale’s as a temporary seasonal employee, he found he enjoyed “the people aspect” of merchandising enough to make it his career. Frasch has spent all of his 40 years in the business, including the last eight, with Saks Fifth Avenue. He has also held executive-level positions with Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.

Saks Fifth Avenue Logo

At Saks, Frasch uses the teamwork and time-management skills he acquired at UAlbany. Working “arm in arm” with CEO Steve Sadove, he is “responsible for all the merchandising and merchandise planning, and all the stores report to me. I also have responsibility for store-planning functions, the overall look of our stores and any construction that goes along with renovating them. Steve and I do everything else together.”

Frasch also works with several UAlbany alumni, “all very good people in our industry. They are driven to be successful. That’s something very special, and I’m very proud of my fellow graduates.

“I love the people, developing and mentoring them,” adds Frasch. “The business is very stimulating and constantly new. I enjoy the dynamic of an ever-changing environment, whether it’s product, people or plans. I don’t think two days have ever been the same in my entire career. I love what I do.”