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Yogurt takes off.

Never heard of a career entrepreneur? Then you've probably haven't met John McGowen. The 53-year-old retired Air Force veteran has owned at least a half-dozen firms over the years, including a seafood store, an import/export business and a Macadamia nuts outlet.

"I've always watched trends closely and identified a need," says McGowen. His new venture: frozen yogurt. McGowen is the owner of Airport Yogurt, an airport concession business with six outlets located in Pittsburgh, Huntsville, Ala., and Columbus, Ga., and a total staff of 19.

The ambitious entrepreneur broke into airport concessions at the Huntsville Madison International Airport in 1987 after bidding against several vendors. "My bid was accepted because I had a product that had appeal," he boasts. "It was one of the 10 hottest products in the country."

McGowen started selling Colombo Yogurt, using $18,000 in savings to purchase a yogurt cart. "You have all the equipment of a storefront in these carts," he notes.

When sales reached $6,500 a month in 1989, McGowen expanded. He combined $22,000 in savings with a $18,000 loan to acquire a 200-square-foot space. In addition to yogurt, the store offered hot dogs, pizza, popcorn and beverages. "The yogurt industry was starting to mature," McGowen says, explaining his strategy. "You could purchase it [frozen yogurt] anywhere. I had to expand my line."

He didn't stop there, however. McGowen has since expanded again, opening a Pittsburgh store and a 1,000-square-foot outlet with seating at a Columbus location. Since starting out, McGowen says he's pumped $375,000 into Airport Yogurt. It's paid off though. Last year's sales increased to $560,000 from $380,000 in 1991. McGowen expects 1993 revenues to hover close to the $1 million mark.
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Title Annotation:John McGowan's Airport Yogurt
Author:Pouliot, Janine S.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Column
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Made in the motherland.
Next Article:Investing for dividend growth.

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