Douglas Ebenstein was born in 1917. His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants. As a child his father was a prosperous attorney practicing in New York City. His mother helped to support the family by taking in sewing and knitting jobs in addition to working as a secretary.
When Douglas entered high school in Roosevelt, he became a member of the debating club. After high school, he went to Harvard for a year studying engineering. During this time, he began reading business magazines. While in college, he met future businessman, Nelson Rockefeller. Nelson invited him to become part of his business team.
At first, it was very difficult for Douglas to make large sums of money. He would invest small sums of money into small businesses that failed. This experience led him to develop his concept of business banking. He came up with a method of using his money to create more business for himself through stock investments. As more wealthy Americans joined the club, they all began to refer to each other as “the feller.” Eventually, their mutual friend, John D. Maxwell became the middle man in what became known as the “Maxwell House Agency,” and today it is called Falls Church Capital.
At one point, Douglas took over as president from his father. It was a difficult role at times, since his father loved to entertain. Douglas had to make sure all of his business partners complied with his expectations. Some of the partners fell out of step and often gave Douglas bad advice. It was not always easy for him to remove some of their influence, but he learned how to do so and remained devoted to his father’s vision.
Throughout his early years at Falls Church, Douglas Ebenstein continued to look for ways to improve his company and the business partners who would be associated with it. This effort bore fruit when he formed the advisory board for the Select Commission on Securities Regulation and Broker Dealers of New Jersey. This board met for the first time in 1948. At that time, the Securities and Exchange Commission was not formed. Today this commission has grown significantly in size and scope, and is an agency of the United States government.
Another way that Douglas Ebenstein of Falls Church Capital Commercial Properties Inc. succeeded was by using his own business model. His retail store, which operated in a partnership with his wife, grew into a chain of stores across the country. This model proved successful because it was a business venture that required minimal investment capital. It also provided a flexible work environment for employees and allowed them to grow and advance within the company. Today, the Ebensteins have many retail outlets, and they have expanded their wholesale business into apparel wholesaling as well.
Many of us have worked in small businesses that struggled through the difficult economic times. In fact, I worked in one of them for several years. I started out as a cashier and ended up spending more time sorting through receipts than actually doing the job. The company under me became unprofitable and it was obvious to me that the business model needed to change if we were going to see any long-term success.
This is a lesson that many people forget. If you want to succeed in business, you need to think about how you are doing things now rather than how you might have done them in the past. I certainly hope that Douglas Ebenstein of Falls Church Capital Commercial Properties Inc., understands this lesson.