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Vancouver's Herschel hires new CEO: Jon Hoerauf

Founders stay with company, say new hire will take company to the next level
Former Arc'teryx president Jon Hoerauf has joined Herschel as its CEO | submitted

Herschel Supply Co. founders Lyndon and Jamie Cormack are the latest example of successful entrepreneurs who have reached the point where they have realized that they need new blood at the top in order to take their venture to the next level.

The two brothers announced March 9 that they hired former Arc'teryx president Jon Hoerauf to be Herschel's new CEO, effective immediately, but that they will remain active in the company focusing on what Jamie Cormack said he and his sibling are passionate about: "expanding our business, innovating our products, and continuing to evolve creatively."

Hoerauf also brings experience as president of apparel at Arc'teryx's parent, global sporting-goods giant Amer Sports, which also has brands such as Salomon, Peak Performance, Atomic, Suunto, Wilson and Precor.

"Our ten year anniversary felt like the perfect milestone to bring on a CEO with the expertise to take us into this next chapter," said Jamie Cormack, who will be the company's managing director. 

Herschel opened more than 40 stores around the world via partnerships with others, and then launched the company's first corporately owned store in 2018 in Gastown. The company also has a booming wholesale business, with its products being sold in 94 countries, according to the company. 

Other Vancouver-based retailers that had founders who stayed with their companies after bringing in new CEOs have tended to make those transitions following equity sales of at least parts of their ventures. 

Kate Ross LeBlanc and Jean-Pierre LeBlanc founded Vancouver's Saje Natural Wellness in 1992, and stayed on as a duo heading the company even after August of 2016, when the LeBlancs brought in L Catterton, an American private equity company, to help them grow the business.

Then, in July, 2020, the LeBlancs announced that Kathy Chi Thurber would be the company's president, effective immediately, and that the Leblancs would be board members. 

At Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica Inc., founder Chip Wilson, in late 2005 sold a 48% stake in the venture to Advent International and Highland Capital Partners for $108 million. As part of that deal, Bob Meers, a former Reebok International CEO and then-Advent International operating partner, became Lululemon's CEO. 

Other times, founders of Vancouver retailers have exited the company entirely when they sold stakes in the ventures. Future Shop founder Hassan Khosrowshahi, for example, sold his company in 2001 to Best Buy Co. for $580 million, and left the company to focus on real estate and other ventures.

"I would see incredible opportunity for Herschel to open, you know, really great, I don't know whether to call them flagship stores as that term is thrown around a lot, but really comprehensive retail environments," said retail analyst and Retail Insider Media owner Craig Patterson. 

Herschel's stores around the world exclusively sell its own products, and Patterson likes that model for the company more so than were it to sell a wide range of other brands. 

"A lot of multi-brand retailers have struggled," he said. 

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