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The roots of Gendis Inc. date back to 1931 when a young Albert D. Cohen first went into business with his father Alexander selling chocolate bars on the rural roads of Manitoba and Saskatchewan as A. Cohen and Son. This early venture was renamed Confection Distributors and Agencies in 1934 to better reflect its core business of confectionary sales to grocery stores and restaurants in small town Western Canada during the Great Depression.

Albert decided to move to Calgary later on in 1934 where he joined his two older brothers John C. (Chauncey) and Harry, who had previously moved there to work in the film business. By 1935 the three brothers had started General Distributors and in ensuing years brothers Sam, Morley and Joe joined the company. The six Cohen brothers eventually relocated across Canada with Joe in Vancouver, Harry in Calgary, Albert and Sam in Winnipeg, Chauncey in Toronto and Morley in Montreal. Each of the brothers contributed to the ultimate success of the company and each one along with their spouses became highly involved in their respective communities. As a result the extended Cohen family counts 6 members in the Order of Canada and Albert D. Cohen was named to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 1994.

In its early days, General Distributors was an import company bringing in everything from lighters to razor blades to watches and binoculars.

One of the first big breakthroughs occurred in 1952 when Albert secured the Canadian rights to Papermate pens which lasted until 1962 when the Gillette Company took over. Then in 1955 Albert made contact with what was then a small Japanese company and secured the Canadian rights for Sony products in a relationship that lasted for 40 years up to the sale of Sony of Canada back to Sony Japan in 1995 for $207 million.


By the 1990’s Gendis had become a true conglomerate as a billion dollar company with vast holdings in Canadian retail  (SAAN Stores Ltd., Metropolitan Stores, Greenberg Stores and Red Apple Clearance Centres), Sony of Canada Ltd., a sizeable real estate portfolio, restaurants as well as having been  significant investors in several large oil and gas companies (Chauvco Resources Ltd., Tripet Resources, Tundra Oil and Gas Ltd.., Fort Chicago Energy Partners LLP). To better represent its various holdings as the company had greatly evolved since its early days as a small importer, General Distributors was renamed Gendis Inc. in 1983 and has kept that name to this day.

The mid-1990’s to mid- 2000’s brought great changes with the sale of Sony in 1995 and the reorganization and consolidation of the Metropolitan and Greenberg retail chains into SAAN Stores Ltd. in 1997. By 2005 Gendis found itself in its current form as a real estate investment firm after the aforementioned sale of Sony of Canada, the sale of SAAN Stores Ltd. in 2004, the sale of its 50% equity in Tundra Oil and Gas Ltd. in 2000 and the distribution of its shares in Fort Chicago Energy Partners to Gendis shareholders in 2001. In late 2003 Gendis also sold its full city block in downtown Winnipeg to Manitoba Hydro to allow for the construction of Manitoba Hydro Place which helped spearhead the urban renewal currently underway in Winnipeg’s downtown core.

Today Gendis owns a commercial real estate portfolio with 6 properties highlighted by its signature property in suburban Winnipeg and also has large holdings in Pembina Pipeline Corporation, OSUM Oil Sands Corp. and Vive Crop Protection.

James Cohen is the current CEO and has worked in all levels of the business since starting full time in 1991. He is joined by his brother Anthony and sister Anna-Lisa as the three shareholders in Gendis Inc. – a Canadian company with a proud history and promising future!

Our Office
Management and Support Office

James E. Cohen

President and Chief Executive Officer, Gendis Inc.

Ernest B. Reinfort

Chief Financial Officer

N.Paul Cloutier

Corporate Secretary

Bob McCulloch

Financial Officer

David Markham

Corporate Tax Consultant

Ken Langlois

Property Manager

Chris Kardynal

Listing of Presidents, Co-Presidents and Chief Executive Officers of Gendis Inc.(1983- present)
  • A. Cohen and Son (1931), Confection Distributors (1934), General Distributors (1935 – 1983) :
  • Albert D. Cohen (1931 – 1999  |  2002 – 2011) President and CEO
  • Samuel N. Cohen ( 1987 -1988 ) Co-President
  • G. Allan MacKenzie ( 1999 – 2002 ) President and CEO
  • James E. Cohen ( 2010 – present ) President and CEO
start the future

2021 And Beyond


As the world’s population approaches 8 billion people , there will continue to be increasing demand for a variety of energy and food sources. Gendis management feels confident its focus on pipelines and energy infrastructure, waste to energy projects, oil and gas holdings, agribusiness as well as its core real estate properties, will place it in a good position to take advantage of attractive investments as opportunities arise.