Before he started business school, Seymour “Cy” Blank ’48 enlisted as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and participated in the D-Day invasion. He retired from a more than 50-year career in retail in 1989 but remains as active as ever, volunteering with 11 organizations around the world. “Business school prepared me for my career, and for the volunteer work I do now, in a way that I never imagined,” says Blank.
After working for Macy’s for more than 10 years, Blank was named a senior vice president and merchandise manager at the popular discount chain Dress Barn, which went public in 1983. “In retail apparel, price is a very important part of the whole picture,” says Blank. “Dress Barn was the first legitimate, honest, brand-name discounter in New England — it was very exciting to see the company spread like crazy.” Dress Barn expanded outside New England, first to New York and ultimately to thousands of locations nationwide.
Blank added signs below each cash register that read “There’s no such thing as an unhappy customer.” His commitment to helping people continues today through his volunteer work with seniors, domestic-abuse victims and small-business owners. “Helping others is wonderful, and it helps me keep my mind active,” he says. Occasionally, Blank is even reimbursed for his services. “Every so often I get paid,” he explains, “when someone says, ‘Thank you.’”