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February 8, 2021

Jeff Blade Joins Herff Jones

Jeff Blade Joins Herff Jones As Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer
Multi-Dimensional Leader to Drive Company’s Execution of Strategic and Transformation Goals

Herff Jones, one of North America’s top achievement and recognition companies and a member of the Varsity Brands family which is built around elevating student experiences, today announced the addition of Jeff Blade to its executive leadership team as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Blade will report to both Herff Jones President Steve Down and Varsity Brands Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer John Hutchinson. He will assume day-to-day responsibilities for finance, the execution of the corporate strategy and program management office in addition to owning the business processes supporting the company’s transformation initiatives to drive commercial and operational success.

Blade most recently served as Interim Senior Vice President and COO at Bradley University, where he was instrumental in helping the institution navigate through the strategic and tactical challenges of COVID-19. Jeff’s tenure also includes top leadership roles with prominent international and national brands such as Vera Bradley and Steak ‘n Shake, where he was integral in providing a seamless transition to the public offering for both. At Matilda Jane Clothing, Blade also helped transform the company’s network of independent field consultants into industry leaders.

“With an eye towards a return to normalcy post vaccine by the fall of 2021, and strong confidence in our supply chain, we look forward to making further investments in innovation and technology – as well as an expanded sales footprint – in 2021 to better serve the nation’s schools and to help improve the lives of more than 55 million kids in K-12 and 19 million students in college,” said Down. “Jeff is a multi-dimensional leader who brings to the table a wealth of experience working in fast-paced, complex organizations in highly competitive, consumer-facing industries. All of this will enable us to build upon Herff Jones’ reputation for excellence, product development and unrivaled, leading-edge solutions and applications as we look to strengthen our competitive positioning and expand our reach to better serve our customers and the industry at large.”

Jeff earned his MBA in finance, marketing and management strategy from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Lacy School of Business at Butler University and is a Certified Public Accountant. Jeff is currently a member of the Butler University Board of Trustees as Chair of the Institutional Sustainability and External Reputation Committee. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Board for the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

Varsity Brands is a portfolio company of Bain Capital Private Equity.

Indianapolis-based Herff Jones is the leading provider of handcrafted graduation and educational products and services designed to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for students. A division of Varsity Brands, Herff Jones’ range of quality products include class rings and jewelry, caps and gowns, yearbooks, diplomas, frames and announcements as well as motivation and recognition programs. Focused on building long-term relationships through a nationwide network of over 2,000 employees and sales partners, the professionals at Herff Jones have been helping elevate the student experience throughout the lifelong journey of education for more than 101 years. For more information about Herff Jones or Varsity Brands, please visit or

With a mission to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for young people, Varsity Brands elevates the student experience, promotes participation and celebrates achievement through three unique but interrelated businesses: BSN SPORTS; Varsity Spirit; and Herff Jones. Together, these businesses promote personal, school and community pride through their customizable products and programs to elementary and middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities, as well as church organizations, professional and collegiate sports teams and corporations. Through its 9,000 dedicated employees and independent representatives, Varsity Brands reaches its individual and institutional customers each year via e-commerce sites, catalogs, telesales, and direct sales channels.

Jonathan Morgan – or (214) 965-9955