Marvin and Murray Lender - bagel bakers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists - have lived the American dream. The brothers, first generation Americans and ten years apart, followed their father Harry into his backyard garage where he started his New York Bagel Bakery in 1929, two years after his arrival from Poland. All of their bagels were hand-rolled by Harry, Murray, older brother Sam and two employees, seven days a week.
In the late fifties, to fulfill local demand, they began to freeze their product and defrost it for weekend sales. This technique triggered a vision that one day they could “bagelize America.”
Soon after Harry’s death and Marvin’s entry into the business, they began the move toward freezing bagels and expanding the retail market - taking their ethnic product and making it a national staple, thus making their dream a reality.
In 1963, with both the advent of frozen foods and the brothers’ enthusiasm and ambition, they capitalized on changing eating habits and brought their hearth-baked bagel into homes across America. Two years later, they changed their name to Lender’s Bagels and built their first plant, a 6,000 square foot facility, which doubled in size within a year. Over the next 20 years the business grew from the original garage of 1,500 square feet to 250,000 square feet across multiple locations.
The entrepreneurial duo created a business structure that allowed them to grow their company. Their success was achievable, not only because of their fun product, but also because of their close relationship as brothers, partners and best friends. They recognized and respected each other’s strengths, with Murray as the sales and marketing guru and Marvin as the operational and business mastermind. Murray implemented his creative ideas while using their limited financial resources to use TV, radio and print to inspire interest and excitement for their bagels. Marvin created and adapted bakery equipment and innovative systems to efficiently produce a high quality product. He removed preservatives from their bagels, pre-sliced them and added flavors to the dough. The brothers’ commitment to the consumer fostered trust, while Lender’s consistently offered a product of quality and value.
Whether employing seven people or seven hundred, the Lender brothers prioritized maintaining a family atmosphere in their company. This dedication to their work force resulted in pride in the product, commitment to the family and the overall enterprise.
Community involvement was always an important part of both their lives, even during the growth of their business. The sale of Lender’s to Kraft Foods in 1984 allowed Marvin and Murray to continue to work together in a new way. In the non-profit world, they used their strengths and experiences from business and worked tirelessly for whatever causes they championed. Their lifetime commitment to giving back is what has made their American dream a true reality.
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