Matzner has served as executive vice chairman of the Palm Springs Art Museum, the McCallum Theatre, the Palm Springs Tennis Club Members Association, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival and Awards Gala. He has also served on the boards of Eisenhower Medical Center and the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center. He supervised the drafting of Palm Springs’ Measure J, a tax hike that helped pay the city’s downtown renovation programme and infrastructure rebuilding.
Harold Matzner was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1937. His father worked for the Works Progress Administration, which supplied jobless people with low-wage public works jobs. He and his parents shared a fifth-floor walk-up apartment with his maternal grandfather, an Orthodox Jewish cantor and Hebrew instructor. His childhood employment included door-to-door sales of seeds and dog food, a paper route, and assistance in his father’s print business.
Matzner graduated from high school in 1954 and went on to work as an apprentice in the sports department of the New York World-Telegram while continuing to work in his father’s printing company. He toured with the New York Yankees and had a couple of his stories published, but by 1958, he thought he wasn’t skilled enough as a sports journalist and chose to change careers.
Matzner met the guy who pioneered cooperative supermarkets, a membership of privately owned and run stores united under the name ShopRite, in 1958, when he was 21 years old. He came up with the notion of sending free weekly advertising publications to every home in a given region. When the concept proved successful, he became the owner and major seller of the paper, which grew into CBA Industries, Inc. He grew his newspaper’s weekly circulation to 250,000 by combining multiple mastheads to form a free newspaper group with distribution in three New Jersey counties. His publications were extremely popular, and they gave rise to the notions of shared mail and private saturation distribution. This accomplishment enabled him to enter other markets, the first of which being 8 million residences in California with pooled mail and private saturation distribution. CBA eventually become the country’s most successful private delivery provider.
Matzner became one of Palm Springs’ most prominent donors. Since 1997, he has donated more than $60 million to local NGOs, with a focus on the visual and performing arts, education, and health and wellness.