Well before they built their wholesale clothing chain into a business which surpassed retail sales in excess of $100 million, twin brothers Jon and Marvin Gurman, 54, grew up as average kids in a Côte Saint-Luc duplex, attended public school and loved hanging out at the Cavendish Mall.
On Monday, June 17 the Gurmans realized a bit of a dream when a brand new member of their growing yogurt chain opened at that very mall, know officially knownas the Quartier. Located on The Avenue, a street Mayor Anthony Housefather hopes to develop into “the Monkland Avenue of Côte Saint-Luc,” Yeh! Yogurt and Café (www.yehyogurt.com) is taking North America by storm.
As the Gurmans explain, The Mall/Quartier decision was a bit of an emotional move. Over the years this shopping centre has been carved in half, making way for a housing development. “My mother is a Mall walker,” Jon noted. “She said there are not a lot of people in the Mall. I said ‘Mom, we are going to bring people back to the Mall. That Mall is going to be hopping.’ I think it already is."
During a business trip to California in 2007, Marvin came across a frozen yogurt store that really impressed him. About a year later, while walking with his daughter down trendy St. Laurent Boulevard, they stopped in at the then only Yeh!Yogurt and Café. Boasting a self-serve format of different frozen yogurt flavors, over 40 toppings and an attractive interior layout, Marvin was beyond impressed. Six months later he and his brother became equal partners with the company’s founders.
“It really started out as a hobby for us,” said Jon.
The hobby quickly turned into a labour of love. After purchasing the remaining shares in the company last December, the Gurmans began to embark upon their plan to expand the brand across the globe. “We call ourselves ‘the Starbucks of the yogurt business’ said Jon. “Most yogurt places look like ice cream shops. That is not the case with us.”
The Yeh! Quartier Cavendish Mall location is being managed by the very capable Heidi Chenoy. This is a niced sized venue with access from the street and inside the plaza. There is now more than just yogurt. You can purchase smoothies, crepes, premium coffee, iced coffee and waffle cones or bowls to put your yogurt in.
Although the Côte Saint-Luc store is not under rabbinic supervision, all of the ingredients available are kosher. That has already resulted in a heavy presence of orthodox students from local Jewish day schools.
Marvin Gurman and his mother Zelda presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony. Jon was away on business, but his wife Joanne and daughter Raquel were on hand as were members of Côte Saint-Luc city council Ruth Kovac, Steven Erdelyi, Sam Goldbloom, Mitchell Brownstein, Allan J. Levine and myself, City Manager Tanya Abramovitch, Associate City Manager Nadia Di Furria, Parks and Recreation Director David Taveroff and managers Harold Cammy and Alvin Fishman, Director of Public Affairs Darryl Levine, Director of Public Safety Jordy Reichson, longtime Mall managing partner Roy Salomon, Michael Wolfe from the company that manages the property, Quarter/Mall manager Lina Roti, developer Joe Levine, CSL Men’s Club president Sidney Margles and Howard Liebman from the Office of Liberal MP Irwin Cotler. Jack Wiltzer, the president of JCorp, was there as was Yeh! Managing Director Craig Stein, franchise supervisor Mitchell Simon and many others. The place was hopping and as Councillor Kovac said in her remarks, this is just the kind of place we had envisioned to breath life on to the new Avenue.
Yeh! Yogurt is the proud sponsor of the July 9, 2013 CSL Golf Classic at Meadowbrook. Registration is now underway at the Parks and Recreation Department.
“Out motto is ‘You go, you get!’” the brothers state. “It is more than just a brand; it is a life concept that leads to realizing your full human potential. We want people to empower themselves to reach their goals and make a difference in the world.”
The history of JCorp dates back to 1929, when Myer Gurman arrived in Canada from Europe with little money and big dreams. He soon opened a small business producing caps. In 1952, his son, Jack, joined the company with the intention of bringing the best quality goods to the Canadian market. In 1978, brothers Jon and Marvin joined the company with the goal of becoming a major player in the industry. Before long they transformed their grandfather’s cap business into an international apparel powerhouse.
After quickly developing a keen eye for fashion trends and an awareness of their customers’ needs, the Gurman twins became very adept at developing private label programs for retail customers. Among their present-day retail partners are Walmart, JC Penney, Sears and TJ Maxx. Some of the brands and licences include Bugle Boy, PNB Nation by Nick Cannon, Old River, Gurilla Biscuit, Hollywood Era jean brand , and celebrity endorsements by Ashley Tisdale and Pauly D. They are also the manufacturers of MMA Elite, a UFC sponsored clothing line.
JCorp employs 90 people at their headquarters on Gince Street in the Montreal borough of St. Laurent. They moved to this location in 2004, giving a complete facelift to what was once the Rockland Tennis Club.