Leonard Lavin

Founder / Alberto Culver


The business of winning

After building a titan in beauty industry, LEONARD LAVIN and daughter CAROL are focused on developing strong leaders

Using a nimble-yet-aggressive management style to become a leader in the consumer products market, Alberto Culver knew how to face down multinationals and win. And that attitude came from the brain trust that led the company for years: Leonard Lavin and his daughter, Carol Bernick.

Lavin founded Alberto Culver with his wife, Bernice, in the mid-1950s as a single product company and saw longtime growth as the lines expanded and the company took share from its competitors.

Bernick continued that growth through the ’90s, ultimately succeeding her father as the company’s executive chairman in 2004. Bernick currently operates Polished Nickel Capital Management and serves as chair of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare.

Kent Grayson, who holds the Bernice and Leonard H. Lavin Professor of Marketing chair, credits Lavin as having “literally invented many of the things I talk about in the classroom.”

In addition to their success, Lavin and Bernick are substantial players in the philanthropic community with a focus on education and women and family services.

But the family’s contributions extend past their gifts. Both Lavin and Bernick regularly meet with Kellogg students at various events. Rather than hope for success, Lavin and Bernick want to help create the next generation of business leaders.

“Winners make it happen,” Lavin says. “Losers let it happen.”


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