HarMan Importing began in 1948 by Julius Mandel (the grandfather of current CEO Alisa Mandel Nogen). Like many of his contemporaries, he left Germany in the 1930s because of the war, and settled in New York with his wife Susie and son Jack. In 1948 he traveled to Germany for personal business – prior to leaving, a friend, who was a clothing manufacturer, asked him to bring back some rhinestones. His reply was, “What’s a rhinestone?” There was a huge shortage of beads and rhinestones in the US at that time. Both of these items were produced in Czechoslovakia prior to World War II, and neither was made during the war because the factories were either closed or repurposed to make wartime materials. Mr. Mandel returned from his trip with the rhinestones, and after seeing the huge demand continued to make trips to Europe to bring more into the US. 
HarMan History
Alisa Mandel Nogen, CEO, assembling HarMan’s first catalog.

In 1956 Julius Mandel’s son, Jack joined HarMan after his service in the military. Over the years Jack grew the business from a small importing company into a multi-million dollar business and a leader in the industry. HarMan started purchasing Swarovski crystals in the 1950’s from Ernest Lowenstein who was the sole distributor of Swarovski crystals in the US at that time. In 1973 Swarovski offered the distributorship to other companies, including HarMan. In 1979 HarMan purchased Lawrence Frankel, a competitor who also was a distributor for Swarovski, but also a direct importer of German glass beads and glass beads from Jablonex (now known as Preciosa Ornela). Until 1993, HarMan, along with a retail store, The Bead Center, was located at 16 West 37thStreet in the middle of the Garment District in New York City. Catering to designers and manufacturers, HarMan became the go-to company for clothing and jewelry manufacturers in New York and beyond. 

In 1993, HarMan relocated to a 15,000 square foot warehouse in Farmingdale, NY (a suburb of New York City) because the sheer weight of all the merchandise was too great for the building on 37th Street to hold. Seriously! 

In 2001, Jack’s daughter, and Julius’s granddaughter Alisa joined the company as CEO. Jack remains as President. Alisa has expanded the company by developing an online e-commerce business and acquiring other companies. In August 2011, HarMan joined forces with Elliot Greene & Co, a longtime specialty bead and trimmings importer catering primarily to the Native American craft industry. HarMan maintains their full inventory and handles all their customer accounts. To read the full press release, click here. In December 2011, HarMan acquired K. Gottfried, a 5 Star Swarovski Authorized Dealer. With these acquisitions, the depth and breadth of HarMan’s inventory has grown dramatically and we now sell to an even more diversified clientele. And in 2015 we are still growing and selling to more and more different industries than ever before. There is definitely a sparkling future ahead!

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