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The Hartz Group History


Leonard Stern
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
The Hartz Group, Inc.

Hartz Mountain was founded in 1926 by my late father Max Stern when he imported his first shipment of singing canaries from his native Germany to America. From these humble beginnings, we have evolved into a truly diversified privately owned family business.


Our focus today includes four lines of business: Industrial real estate, multifamily rental real estate, hospitality, and renewable energy development. These lines of business are different in many ways, but highly interrelated. Our growing and changing portfolio includes warehouses, data centers, hotels, freestanding parking garages, multifamily residential rental units, offices and other unique properties.


Looking ahead, we have structured our operations at every level to assure my heartfelt goal that Hartz continue as a private company into the next generation and beyond. Our day-to-day real estate operations are managed by a long-serving and deep professional management team led by Gus Milano, President of Hartz Mountain Industries. Most importantly, I have named my son, Edward, as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Hartz Group and my designated successor.  Additionally, this past year marked the first real engagement of our 4th generation with the business.


I will continue to discharge my current duties as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until the day comes that I can no longer do so. When that day finally comes, it gives me great comfort and confidence that Edward will be right there at my side, ready in every way to lead Hartz as its next CEO.

As my late father often said "Only in America!"



Leonard Stern
Chairman & CEO​

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Page Styles

Max Stern
1898 - 1982

At age 28, Max Stern was ambitious but nearly penniless. His native Germany was suffering from the effects of hyper-inflation, unemployment and civil unrest in part caused by the collapse of Germany after World War I. By contrast, America presented an island of stability, freedom and economic opportunity. Max looked toward the promise that was America and decided to emigrate and pursue the American dream. At about the same time, a childhood friend of Max, a local canary dealer who had previously borrowed a modest sum from him, told Max that he could only pay back the loan with 5,000 singing canaries. Max accepted the canaries and decided to sell them in New York City where he was told he could get the best price.

Max negotiated free passage for himself to New York on the Hamburg American Steamship Line in return for paying the freight charges on the canaries and spent his time below deck during the voyage caring for the birds. He arrived in America not knowing a single soul or word of English. A great salesman, he immediately sold the canaries to the John Wanamaker Department Store's Pet Department at Astor Place in Manhattan, which had the city's largest pet shop. Seeing the opportunity, he immediately decided to establish a new business of importing canaries making his place of business nearby at 36 Cooper Square. We proudly still own that building.

32-50 Cooper Square Hartz Pet Products - 1958

32-50 Cooper Square Hartz Pet Products - 1958

32-50 Cooper Square Hartz Pet Products - 1958
Hartz Bird Food Products - 1955
F.W. Woolworth was our largest customer by 1940

Max returned to his native Germany again and again each time bringing back more singing canaries. Soon he was selling them to a growing customer base across the country including R.H. Macy, Sears Roebuck, F.W. Woolworth, W. T. Grant, S.S. Kresge and other large chain retailers.

By 1934, Max was the largest livestock importer in America and started manufacturing packaged bird foods at 36 Cooper Square selling them under the Hartz Mountain brand to the same customers who bought canaries from him, and the line of Hartz Mountain pet products was born.


By now, Hartz Mountain had become America's best known bird food company. Max welcomed his 21-year-old son Leonard into the business who immediately took over day-to-day operations as Max's health had started to fail. Leonard appreciated the success of the bird food line, but he also knew that Americans needed food and supplies for their other pets, so he rapidly expanded the Hartz product line, offering supplies for dogs, cats, fish and other household pets. Sales boomed. Hartz then developed a revolutionary type of pet supply distribution using specialized display racks installed in the pet food section of supermarkets. This quickly revolutionized the American pet industry.

Hartz products were heavily advertised -- first on radio and then television creating the most powerful brand in the pet industry. “Perk up your parakeet with Hartz Mountain Parakeet Seed" read one ad. During this time, Hartz developed numerous unique and creative products like Hartz Yummies, Dog Pretzels, Canary Kits and even Parakeet Training Records.

During the 1960s, Hartz flea collars became America's best-selling flea control product and Hartz became the largest seller of over the counter animal health products in the world.

Max and Leonard Stern, 1960
Breeders Conference, Tokyo, Japan
Local Delivery Trucks - Circa 1955

Hartz products were creatively displayed in supermarkets on fixtures that were designed and fabricated in our Harrison, NJ facility

Hartz Pet Products - 1962

Hartz Pet Products - 1962

Hartz Pet Food - 10 Acre Manufacturing Complex - Bloomfield, NJ

Headquarters for Hartz Pet Food - Harrison, NJ

Hartz Pet Food Warehouse - Jersey City, NJ

Rawhide Processing Facility - Brazil
Hartz Pet Medications - 1996
Wardley Products - 1996
First Industrial Buildings Built (700,000 square feet) - Bayonne, NJ - 1966

Continuing to seek out new opportunities to invest Hartz' increasing cash flow, Leonard Stern looked beyond the company's successful pet care business into real estate development. A unique opportunity presented itself; the construction of 700,000 square feet of speculative industrial distribution facilities in Bayonne, NJ, and Hartz Mountain Industries, our real estate division was born and Hartz became a business with two very fast growing divisions.


Leonard Stern with his newly formed real estate division continued to dramatically grow the overall business with the acquisition of two large tracts of barren marshes totaling over 1,250 acres in the town of Secaucus, located in the New Jersey Meadowlands, an area only six miles from downtown Manhattan. This land, once best known for its adjacency to former pig farms, would soon become the core of Hartz' real estate portfolio. By this time, Hartz had created its own in-house capacity to design, construct and then manage the growing real estate portfolio.

This initial tract of land in Secaucus, now known as Harmon Cove is among the premier distribution locations in the country, sitting just outside New York City. With its dual proximity to both Manhattan and the Port of New York/New Jersey, it offers a strategic location that is unmatched. Harmon Cove is also the site where outlet shopping began in the Northeast and continues as a popular consumer outlet destination to this day.

Harmon Cove's neighboring Harmon Meadow development in Secaucus is a thriving mixed-use project. It would become one of the premier office locations in New Jersey. The nearby Secaucus Junction Train Station connects employees and visitors to the entire New York Metro Region and beyond.

Before: Harmon Cove (formerly known as the "Free Zone Center"), Secaucus, NJ before development by Hartz

After: Harmon Cove Industrial Park, Secaucus, NJ

Harmon Meadow, Secaucus, NJ
One of our Major Mixed Use Developments

Hartz' real estate business expanded dramatically during the 1980s, with the purchase and development of large tracts of land in Weehawken and Ridgefield Park, N.J. The company then acquired additional land and buildings in ​Jersey City, Newark and Manhattan, all in prime locations. By the end of the eighties, the​​ Hartz name was as synonymous with real estate as it was with pet care and Hartz' real estate portfolio had g​​rown.

667 Madison Avenue, at 61st Street, New York City.
New York's finest boutique office building – 1987

The Classic Styled Lobby at
667 Madison Avenue

Lincoln Harbor, Weehawken, NJ
Our Major Development right across from Mid-town Manhattan. Photo taken 2010.

Overpeck Center, Ridgefield Park, NJ
Only 5 minutes from the George Washington Bridge. Photo taken 2010.
Carpet Magic Store Display – 1985
S.M. Cork Distribution Center in United Kingdom

With the acquisition of the Carpet Magic Company, Hartz Mountain entered the home carpet cleaning business. Carpet Magic provided carpet cleaning rental machines in supermarkets. Hartz grew the business to more than 20,000 rental centers in the nation's leading supermarket chains.

Meanwhile, the pet supply business was growing globally. Hartz successfully entered the Canadian and U.K. markets, and established sourcing operations in Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

Stern Publications, Andrea Stern, Publisher of our Newest Publication, the Long Island Voice - 1985
Harmon Publications - 1985

Moving into alternative weekly newspaper publishing, Leonard diversified the company once again. He launched Stern Publishing, and soon had local weekly newspapers across the country including: The Village Voice, The LA Weekly, Seattle Weekly, Orange County Weekly, Long Island Voice, and several more with a total weekly circulation exceeding 900,000 and 1,000 employees.

Hartz then created the Harmon Publishing Company, which soon published 180 free, local residential real estate advertising magazines, reaching well over two million prospective homebuyers every two weeks.

The Village Voice, Long Island Voice, The LA Weekly, OC Weekly, City Pages,
Seattle Weekly and Eastside Week - 1985
Edward, Emanuel and Leonard Stern –-1990

With a focus on family, it was only natural for Leonard to welcome sons Emanuel and Edward Stern into the business. Representing the third generation of future leadership, they began to work their way up the corporate ladder, with Emanuel starting in the real estate division and Edward in the pet care businesses.

Hartz Pet Food - Flake Food Manufacturing Facility in Secaucus – 1994

Hartz acquired Wardley Products, America's largest manufacturer of aquatic fish foods and remedies in 1994. Hartz then continued its expansion with its acquisitions of the Pet Products Rawhide Company of Brazil and the L&M Pet Company, manufacturers of small animal foods.

Wardley Fish Food Product Line

L&M Bird and Small Animal Food Manufacturing Facility, Ohio

Hartz diversified its business again by developing a hospitality division, building the SoHo Grand Hotel and a few years later the Tribeca Grand Hotel, now known as The Roxy Hotel, in lower Manhattan. Hartz also developed other hotels in New Jersey . Today, the Hartz hotel portfolio includes eleven hospitality properties.

The SoHo Grand was SoHo's first hotel in over 100 years. With its 367 rooms and acclaimed design, the hotel offered luxury accommodations in a vibrant quarter of New York. The Tribeca Grand, now known as The Roxy Hotel, marked the first opening of a luxury hotel in Tribeca, the area known as the “Triangle Below Canal'" bordered by Canal Street, Broadway and the Hudson River.

Soho Grand Hotel – NYC
Completed 1996

Tribeca Grand Hotel, now known as The Roxy Hotel - NYC
Completed 2000

It was time for the next generation to officially take their places in the overall management of our business. Emanuel was named President of the real estate division and Edward was named President of the pet company. Both joined their father Leonard in forming a troika to oversee the day-to-day management of the entire company.

Emanuel Stern
Hartz Mountain Industries

Edward Stern
Hartz Mountain Corporation
Pet Products and Stern Publications

By now, the success of Hartz pet care products and publishing business attracted the attention of numerous potential purchasers. The Stern family made the difficult decision to sell both businesses so Edward could concentrate on managing the company's new fast-growing financial operations under the banner of Hartz Capital, Inc.


Hartz Mountain goes green. Under the leadership of Emanuel Stern, Hartz launched a companywide sustainability initiative in 2007. The program resulted in a complete overhaul of the specifications used in all of the company's construction and renovation projects. As a result of its efforts, Hartz was awarded NJBIA's Environmental Quality Award. Also in 2009, NJBIZ recognized President and Chief Operating Officer Emanuel Stern as the “Green Executive of the Year.'"

As part of Hartz’ initiative, the company sought to develop solar power generation on as many of its warehouses as possible. Today, Hartz is the 10th largest commercial solar generator in the United States, with over 35 MW of installed solar generation capacity, and extensive power purchase agreements with tenants. Hartz solar has a development pipeline of many megawatts of solar generation under development, assuring continued growth for years to come.

Secaucus Meadowlands Warehouse with Rooftop Solar Array - 2009

Ground Arrays, Hamilton, NJ - 2012

The Top 25 Companies by Solar Capacity

In 2014, Hartz entered the wind-power generation business, partnering with Patriot Renewables LLC to construct Saddleback Ridge Wind, a 34 Megawatt, 12-turbine wind project located in Carthage, Maine. Saddleback Ridge Wind's 12 GE 2.85 MW turbines will generate nearly 105 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year -- enough to power approximately 16,500 homes.
116 Units – Completed June, 2012

Hartz entered the multifamily business with the purchase of 1,875 rental apartment units in New York and New Jersey. These acquisitions were the first step in a plan to add a substantial residential component to its portfolio. Hartz acquired luxury multifamily buildings in Chicago, Austin and Seattle and in 2012 Hartz completed its first new ground-up residential development in years, the 116 unit Osprey Cove, in Secaucus, NJ. 

High Rise Rental Properties​​

Estuary, Weehawken, NJ
582 Units leased 2014

On October 12, 2011, as a further tribute to Max Stern's American dream, the Stern family unveiled an actual replica cast from the original plaster sculpture of the Statue of Liberty at their 667 Madison Avenue building in Manhattan. Standing nine feet tall, the exact scale model was cast using bronze from the same foundry. Lady Liberty symbolizes the promise of America realized by Max Stern, and the success he was able to achieve in his adopted country. As Max frequently said, "Only in America."


In February of 2014, Hartz opened The Estuary, a 582 unit, 3 building complex in Weehawken, NJ. The Estuary will be joined by a new Whole Foods, a Blue Ale House Gastro Pub and many more amenities securing Lincoln Harbor's future as a dynamic place to live, work, and play.

Top: The Whitley, Austin, TX, and The Estuary, Weehawken, NJ Bottom: Alto, Seattle, WA and One Superior Place, Chicago, IL

In the Summer of 2014, Hartz purchased a 35-building industrial portfolio in North Atlanta, GA, as well as buildings in Hanover, MD and Kings Mountain, NC, just outside Charlotte. These transactions were its largest industrial purchases outside the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.

Edward Stern
President and COO
The Hartz Group

Eddie Stern is named President and COO of the Hartz Group.

Gus Milano, a 35-year Hartz veteran, moves up to become President and Chief Operating Officer of our real estate division. Lawrence Garb, also a Hartz veteran, is named Executive Vice President & Managing Director and Tony Fant becomes the President of our Hotel Division.

Ron Bangs is named the Chief Financial Officer of the Hartz Group.


Hartz Mountain Industries moves forward into 2017 with one of the largest development pipelines in its history to date. From residential to industrial to retail development, Hartz will complete projects started in 2016 and commence construction of new projects in 2017.

Lincoln Harbor Development

3 Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ

Hartz commenced the leasing of 240 residential units at 3 Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ in March 2017. The building is located directly across from the Journal Square Path Station and will be a great addition to Journal Square.

Harmon Cove, Secaucus, NJ

Osprey Cove East-- a 62 unit residential complex, which is an expansion of the original Osprey Cove 116 unit residential complex-- was completed in August of 2016 and is fully leased.

Harmon Meadow, Secaucus, NJ

Hartz started construction of The Harper, 469 residential units in its Harmon Meadow, Secaucus NJ mixed use development. Leasing will begin in late Autumn of 2017.


Hartz begins 2019 with continued growth in both construction and acquisition. We have meaningful industrial footprints in key markets including: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Since 1966, Hartz' industrial portfolio was originally developed and maintained primarily in Northern New Jersey, within a 30-minute drive of the company's headquarters in Secaucus, NJ and a short distance from New York City. Hartz expanded its industrial portfolio nationally through opportunistic investments in new core markets:  first in Maryland, followed by the Charlotte markets, Atlanta, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, among others.



​Hartz plans to develop over 5 million SF of modern, infill distribution centers.

Hartz purchases three large, well located industrial development sites in Long Island and New Jersey, for cash. Hartz plans to develop over 5 million square feet of modern, infill distribution centers on these sites, in order to service the growing demand for e-commerce, and continue the expansion of its industrial real estate portfolio. Additional land purchases are in active negotiation.




In October 2018, Hartz entered the Long Island market for the first time with the significant acquisition of the 52.88-acre Newsday headquarters and newspaper printing facility at 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY.  Hartz planned on adaptive reuse of the site, which comprised an obsolete office building and printing facility.  Two Industrial buildings - the first large scale industrial buildings to be built on Long Island in decades have been entitled on the site, and groundbreaking of the first building took place in March 2021.  The 246,500 square foot building, available Q1 2022, will be joined by a 599,983 square foot warehouse, available Q3 2022.  Both state-of-the-art buildings include solar panels on the roof and will be LEED certified.  

In December 2019, Hartz purchased an office building and lab space at One Malcolm Avenue, Teterboro, NJ, with plans for adaptive reuse of the site.  Plans call for a 515,000 square foot state-of-the-art, LEED Certified warehouse with Solar roof on the site.

New Offices in a familiar place - - In January 2021, Hartz moved into bright, beautiful, new state-of-the-art offices at 500 Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ, a newly renovated building originally built by Hartz. The new offices provide a great home for our growing company, and offer gracious working and social spaces, as well as a gym, coffee bar, and easy access to local restaurants.






​Two of Leonard Stern's grandchildren, Avery Stern, (NYU Schack School of Real Estate, '2023) and Ezra Stern (Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, '2023) graduate and join the company.  Fewer than 5% of American family businesses make it to a 4th generation.  Beating those odds and remaining a closely held family business remains a key focus for the Hartz Group.

Hartz developed the TEB Transport Center, a state-of-the-art industrial facility this year.  It has unparalleled highway access at the crossroads of Rt. 17, I-80 and Rt. 46, located only 2 miles from the GWB, and adjacent to Teterboro airport.  Available 4Q23, the 515,421 SF Class A building features 40' clear ceiling heights, 83 exterior dock doors, and four drive-in doors.

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