WMU News

Keystone series kicks off with Bermo president

Sept. 18, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- The president of Bermo Enterprises Inc. will detail his business's rise from a campus jeans shop to the Midwest's largest off-price apparel wholesaler when he speaks Friday, Sept. 26, at Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business.

Ed Bernard will present "Only in America--And Only in Kalamazoo" as part of the Keystone Community Bank Breakfast Series. The presentation, which includes a continental breakfast, will begin at 7:30 a.m. in Room 2150 of WMU's Schneider Hall. The free Haworth College of Business program is sponsored by Keystone Community Bank. Parking will be available in the Fetzer Center parking lot. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the business dean's office at (269) 387-5050.

Bernard's presentation is the first in the 2003-04 series, which will feature "Case Studies of Local Business Success." Business leaders from around West Michigan are slated to discuss the triumphs and challenges of finding success in this area, and how they have grown and prospered despite tough economic times. In his talk, Bernard will detail why he chose to set up operations in Kalamazoo County, what it's like to do business in the region, and the pluses and minuses of operating in a small Midwestern city.

A Chicago native, Bernard began his career in the clothing business by working in a Windy City tailor shop and later in Chicago's off-price garment district. He opened the first Mr. B's Wearhouse, then a small jeans shop, near WMU's campus in 1973. Recognizing the demand for wholesale apparel, shortly thereafter Bernard founded Bermo Enterprises, a wholesale company that operated out of the jean store basement. Today, Bermo is the Midwest's largest off-price apparel wholesaler. The company's 160,000-square-foot warehouse, showroom and office complex is located in Schoolcraft, Mich., and its operations include 23 retail stores and a wholesale division with offices in New York and California.

Bernard serves on the Haworth College of Business Advisory Council, volunteers with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and sponsors the Bernard Family Tennis Scholarship. He attended the University of Oklahoma.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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