David Yaffa, proprietor of Yaffa Media, publisher of Australian Defence Magazine, has died aged 84 over the weekend. A staunchly independent and passionate publisher, he built an empire of more than 30 business and consumer magazines and websites, becoming a significant force in Australian media.
As one of the largest specialist publishing houses in Australia, the company could have been sold many times over, but he was not interested. Nor was he interested in joint ventures, partnerships or going public. He wanted to build the company his way and grow it as a successful family business.
His father, David Yaffa Snr, founded the company in 1925 when he established Yaffa Syndicate, which supplied cartoons, photographs and articles to the Australian and NZ newspaper industries. In 1928 he launched a monthly industry publication, Newspaper News, which later became AdNews. He also established a printing company, Rotary Colorprint, which printed not only his own magazines but also Phantom comics, Reader's Digest and other publications under licence.
David Jnr was only 13 when his father died. At age 21 he was running the company. By the 1960s it had five publications but still relied on printing and the syndication business for the bulk of its income.
Conditions for publishing improved in the 1960s and 70s, and Yaffa Publishing expanded mainly through the acquisition of additional titles.
As advertising revenue increased in the 80s and 90s - for all media - the stable of magazines was increased further, the event company Two de Force was purchased, and a digital division established.
David Yaffa retired in 2012 and his daughter Tracy Yaffa became managing director. The company was renamed Yaffa Media in 2015 and transformed into an organisation that now combines publishing, content marketing and events.
David Yaffa will be remembered for his love of the media. His knowledge and experience with magazines for almost 60 years was unrivalled.
He understood as well as anybody that publishing is a people business. He was a shrewd judge of character, demanded plenty from his staff but always treated them with respect.
In a statement to Yaffa Media staff, managing director Tracy Yaffa said: "It is with great sadness and heavy heart, I announce the passing of David Yaffa, on Saturday, October 6th. He was of course my predecessor, my adored father and for some of you, your boss.
"A true publishing giant and unique gentleman, his career spanned an impressive 57 years from 1955 to 2012. His contribution to the Australian media landscape was extraordinary."
James Yaffa, publisher at Yaffa Media, said: "I had the privilege to work with Dad for over 20 years, and enjoyed every minute of it. For me Dad was a real character who made a positive impact on so many Australians. Our staff simply respected him like no other.
"For me getting started there could have been no better mentor and for that I'm eternally grateful.
"And for the record we had plenty of fun working hard to be as competitive as possible. Make no mistake, David liked to win!"
See more about David Yaffa, an empire builder who shunned the spotlight.