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THE INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS WORLD IS chock-full of CEOs who have established their place in the business world as a kind of legacy—they are the sons and daughters of educated, upper- or upper-middle-class families, afforded private secondary educations and gained entry to the best universities. Irv Rothman is not that kind of CEO. Raised in the gritty, hardscrabble town of Bayonne, New Jersey, Rothman created his own success from a combination of hard work, determination, and an unwavering commitment to building a successful life.
The son of a WWII veteran father and stay-at-home mom, young Irv was like many kids in the cramped city of Bayonne. Just across the river from Manhattan, yet a world away, Bayonne was a small city with 85,000 people of varied ethnicities but a common blue-collar existence. Like most boys, Irv loved to play sports. From school teams to Jewish city leagues, there wasn't a sport Irv didn't like. Not that he was brilliant in them, but he enjoyed the thrill of competition, the collaboration of being on a team, and the satisfaction of dedicating one's self to the art of the game.
It was a simple life, with all the necessities met. A roof over the family's head, food on the table, clean clothes tucked ...