David Shakarian

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Founder of GNC and Bonita Bay Group, contributor to the Armenian Assembly of America.

The future of the Assembly was assured in 1984 when Hovnanian and the Mugar estate launched an endowment fund with contributions of $1 million each. Additional contributions to the endowment fund followed from Mrs. Deran Hintlian, Edward Mardigian, Richard and Gail O'Reilly, Leon Peters and David Shakarian.

GNC (General Nutrition Centers)

In 1935, David Shakarian launched a dream of his by establishing a little health food store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called Lackzoom. Shakarian's first storefront was located at 418 Wood Street in Pittsburgh's Downtown district. Lackzoom specialized in yogurt, a food his father helped introduce in the United States, but also sold other healthy foods such as honey, grains and "health sandwiches." Even though "health food" was thought to be a passing fad back then, people embraced Shakarian's store. From his first day's receipts of only $35 he was able to make enough money to open a second location six months later.

Disaster struck with the 1936 St. Patrick's Day flood, which wiped out both of Shakarian's stores, but he reopened both locations and went on to own six Pittsburgh area stores within five years. By 1947, he decided to get the word out to the people about the benefits of "health food."

The 60's decade saw many changes; as people began to embrace the whole concept of natural foods and better nutrition, Shakarian decided to embrace the demand and opened stores in other states. In this process he also changed the name of the store to General Nutrition Center.

As the store count continued to grow, GNC began producing its own vitamin and mineral supplements as well as foods, beverages and cosmetics. By the early 80's the number of GNC locations had grown to over 1,000.

Although we lost our founder in 1984, GNC has steadfastly continued to expand upon David Shakarian's dream. General Nutrition Centers, Inc., still has Pittsburgh roots. Our worldwide headquarters is located just two blocks from the original storefront. As the largest nationwide specialty retailer of vitamin, mineral, herbal supplements, and sports nutrition supplements, as well as many personal care and related products, GNC operates more than 4,800 retail outlets throughout the United States more than 1,300 domestic franchise locations, more than 1,000 store-within-a-store locations under its strategic alliance with Rite Aid and more than 800 locations in more than 35 foreign markets including Canada and Mexico.

The Bonita Bay Group

When our founder, David Shakarian, first envisioned Bonita Bay more than 20 years ago, he was way ahead of his time. He saw the potential then for something that had not been done before: a community where people would live in harmony with nature.

During the past two decades we have not only remained true to David Shakarian's vision, we have exceeded it. Throughout our communities wetlands are preserved, natural flow ways are restored and water-conservation efforts are practiced to ensure the protection of this precious resource. Today, the principles of sustainable development are the cornerstone of our mission. We are committed to development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Our team shares the vision of creating master-planned communities and amenities that set new standards in site planning, land use, environmental preservation, water management, and social infrastructure. For this we've been honored with many awards, including the national Award of Excellence from the Urban Land Institute, the Golf Digest Environmental Leader in Golf Award and Outstanding Performance recognition from the Council for Sustainable Florida.

The Bonita Bay Group has grown dramatically during the past few years. What was once a single-community development company with 200 employees, now employs more than 1,400 people and operates divisions that include numerous master-planned communities, a title company, a utility company and several operating businesses that support the company's core business interests.

David Shakarian passed away in 1984, but under the leadership of Chairman of the Board David Lucas, The Bonita Bay Group has flourished. Today, the values that have made The Bonita Bay Group financially strong, with an unwavering commitment to quality and integrity, are still in place and are reflected in the beautiful communities and amenities we develop.