Originally a materialistic, greedy and ego driven rich person, Norman Ebenstein turned his life around. After being laid off from his job as an advertising sales man, he decided to devote his time and money to providing homes for the poor in Los Angeles. His philanthropic efforts were so successful that in his later years, he was named one of the top donors to the Legal Services Corporation of America. He also founded the Foundation to assist needy families after their home had been destroyed by fire. Later in his life, he changed his name to founder Norman Ebenstein and served as the primary financial contributor to numerous educational and religious groups.
After being named the youngest member of the Southern Jewish Cabinet in Washington D.C., Fender promptly went to work on their new agency. Within a short time they hired some of the best attorneys and business executives in the nation, along with a number of other past and present cabinet members. Norman Ebenstein’s son, Moshe, is now serving as a counselor to Fender and acting as a corporate counsel for the company. Fender is currently under investigation for securities fraud. The company is facing a class action suit brought against it by investors who are owed a large amount of money.
When I was growing up, my father’s business partner was a man named Richard Lazarus. This young man graduated from college with majors in mathematics and began his own business in a small store in Brooklyn, New York City. He would sell all kinds of things such as matches, stamps, books and candies. After a few years, he decided to open his own company and went about it the wrong way. Instead of making quality products, he decided to make garbage. It was his first venture into business, and it nearly led to bankruptcy.
Lazarus wasn’t a very good business man. He didn’t have any experience in marketing, he didn’t know where to get the supplies he needed and he didn’t care. He had no dedication to his work or to his customers. The store wasn’t profitable, but it wasn’t because of his lack of creativity. It was because he didn’t care.
One of our family members worked with Mr. Lazarus for many years and can honestly say that he did nothing for the business but take his cut and collect the checks. He took the company over, when my uncle, George, became seriously ill and passed away. My uncle and the other investors needed to find a way to pay for the damages done to their beloved store, but they had no idea how. That’s when my uncle started his new business.
Mr. Ebenstein had was living on the East Coast, but he felt the need to come back to Manhattan to “give it a shot.” In order to do that, he needed capital. So, he contacted acquaintances, asked them if they would like to help him start a store on the East Coast. That’s where my grandmother came into the picture. She knew of someone that had started a distribution company so she called Mr. Ebenstein and asked if he would be willing to do some consulting work for her.
Through that consultation, she learned of all the different things she could do in order to increase the profitability of her company. That’s when she decided to start her own company. Her first project was to get a van and rent it out to people who were driving down the highway. She also decided to buy some shelves and distribute them to local grocery stores. But, the biggest thing she decided to invest in was the rent-to-own business.
This was back in the fifties, and that means it was hot! The demand was there, the supply was out. The question was, how would she get a handle on all of the demand and how would she get a handle on all the supply? That is where Norman came into the picture. He saw that this was going to be a great opportunity for him to be one of the original owners of a distribution company that operated out of New York City.