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Henry Gerstel (BBHS ’63)

Born: 1946, Brussels, Belguim

Henry Gerstel immigrated to Montreal in 1950. His parents, Gitla Zarzewski (Lodz Poland) and Siegfried Gerstel (Vienna, Austria), survived the war hidden in a Belgian Government official’s basement. In Montreal his father opened a fur store on Park Avenue where the family lived in the apartment above.

After graduating BBHS, Gerstel attended Sir George Williams University (now Concordia),  and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree. While attending university he worked as a truck driver, drove a cab and was a lifeguard at Expo 67. He began his business career was with General Foods as a sales representative, spending nine years there in different capacities. In 1977 along with two partners they acquired a small brokerage firm. Over the next 35 years the company, Crombie, Kennedy, and Nasmark, grew rapidly into the largest food brokerage firm in Canada, having over  500 employees and represented  P&G, Glaxo Smith Kline, Ocean Spray and Post Cereals, to name but a few.

In 1985 Associated Brands was established, a manufacturer of predominately private label dry packaged goods such as artificial sweeteners, soup mixes, and jelly powders. By the time company went public in 2002, it was the largest Canadian private label manufacturer of such goods, producing products for all Canadian and many American supermarkets and mass merchandisers. In 2007 the Asociated Brands was acquired by Advantage Sales and Marketing.  Gerstel remained President of the new organization for four years and then Chairman until December 2015.

He has been married to Carole for 45 years, has a son Ryan who is a VP at Wood Gundy and two granddaughters. Spending his time between Toronto and Florida, Gerstel is active on two private boards and is a golf and photography enthusiast.