Ralph Erardy, who had a highly successful and long career at WWD and Fairchild Publications as a publisher and sales executive, died Friday in Boca Raton, Fla., after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.
Erardy, a Vietnam War veteran, was born April 29, 1948, in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was also raised. He later moved to Tenafly, N.J., with his wife, Claudia Ann, and his children, Emily and Reid.
A graduate of Brooklyn College with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and sales, Erardy started his career at Cue magazine as a media manager and quickly climbed the ladder with his sales acumen, street smarts and personable nature that he carried with him throughout his career. He then went to Frequent Flyer magazine and worked as advertising director before moving to M/Manhattan Inc. as associate publisher.
Erardy began his career at Fairchild in 1990, serving as associate publisher and advertising director of M magazine, then group associate publisher, where he oversaw the launch of Salon News until 1993.
He left Fairchild for a brief stint in 1993 and 1994 to become senior vice president of Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado, where it was reported that he doubled annual advertising revenue. Erardy returned to Fairchild in 1994 for a 15-year run. He was publisher of WWD until 1999, during which time the paper increased its revenue by an average of 15 percent to 20 percent annually. He then was promoted from vice president and publisher of WWD to senior vice president and publisher of Home Furnishings Network.
In 2002, Erardy was named senior vice president and group publisher of WWD and Children’s Business. In the following years, Erardy was instrumental in driving WWD to record revenues and profits. And in 2007, he took on the new role of executive director of sales for the Fairchild Fashion Group, working with publishers and business leaders to grow ad revenue and market share with Fairchild’s major accounts. He left in 2008.
During his tenure at WWD, colleagues recalled his tenacity, fairness, sense of humor and ability to market an editorial project to its fullest potential. They recalled that Erardy had the ability to be as aggressive a sales executive as could be while maintaining full editorial integrity and respect for the editors with whom he worked.
“If there was business out there, Ralph would find it and get it, even in the most difficult of circumstances. And he’d do it with an artful balance of grit and charm,” said Ed Nardoza, editor in chief of WWD. “He had the trust and affection of all the editors who worked with him. His battle with cancer, difficult as it was, never broke his spirit.”
“Ralph was an extremely tough competitor with the golden touch to make extraordinary things happen,” said Stephanie George, president and vice chairman of WWD parent Fairchild Fashion Media Inc., who worked with Erardy for many years. “He was adored internally and externally and was a force of nature. He will be sorely missed.”
Susan Smith, who was regional advertising director under Erardy at WWD, said, “Ralph was the consummate professional. He loved this business and he loved his clients. He had the gift of gab, and he also had a strong determination to succeed and was totally committed to the paper and the industry. He was at once a bulldog and a lovely man.”
His daughter, Emily, said, “My father was my hero. He was the strongest person I have and will ever know. He inspired me to get into the industry and taught me everything I know about sales.”
His son, Reid, said about his father, “He taught me everything I know about life. He was always there for me, whether it was coaching my sports teams, cheering me on or life lessons. He never let me down.”
In addition to his wife and children, Erardy is survived by a sister, Victoria Erardi.
A funeral will be held on Tuesday at 11 a.m., at the Gary Panoch Funeral Home, 6140 North Federal Highway in Boca Raton. A memorial is being planned for April in Tenafly.