I will let you in on a little secret. I don’t prepare many questions before I speak to the people featured in
“Lunchbreak” (well, except for one; I’ll let you guess what that is). I have a general idea about several topics I would like to learn more about, but by and large I discover the person through our conversation. It’s an experience I try to give over to the readers.
Shuki Salomon is a businessman, musician, composer, artist and media personality all wrapped into one. Shuki is a real estate entrepreneur who runs several real estate ventures, including a brokerage firm,interior and exterior design, and purchasing and developing multi-unit properties throughout Eretz Yisrael.
He is also a well-known “influencer” and has more than 60,000 followers on social media, where he uses his platform to discuss his favorite topics: simchah, thanking Hashem and ahavas chinam.
Shuki has been a major promoter of the Lashon Hara Lo Medaber Eilai campaign in Israel, and as we spoke, he stopped the flow of conversation several times when he suspected it might involve a form of speaking negatively about others.
Shuki composes and creates his own music and has performed with today’s biggest stars in Jewish music.
Our conversations covered business, Torah, spreading simchah and more. Shuki’s energy is infectious, and my hope is that meeting him through this column will touch you as it did me.
I grew up in Yerushalayim. My mother is from Yerushalayim and my father is from Bnei Brak. My father comes from a chasidishe background, and to this day, I feel drawn to the chasidishe side of me. I go to tishen and to rebbes for brachos on a constant basis. I went to Talmud Torah Ruzhin, a yeshivah in Rechovot for ninth, tenth, and 11th grade. Then I learned in Ateret by Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi until I got married.
“I got married early—that is a funny story. At Ateret, I wanted to learn b’chavrusa with a real top bachur in the yeshivah. He said he would learn with me on one condition. He had a neighbor who he thought would be a good shidduch for me. If I wanted to learn with him, I had to agree to be redt for his neighbor when I turned 20. I was 17 at the time. I wanted to learn with this bachur, and I figured that he would certainly forget about our deal over the next three years, but I was wrong. I forgot about it, but he didn’t. We learned very well together for many hours a day, and three years later when I was 20, he reminded me about our deal. I wasn’t yet interested in shidduchim, but I had given him my word, so I agreed. Three dates later, I was engaged.
“Interestingly, my mesader kiddushin was Rav Yitzchak Ezrachi, the rosh yeshivah of Mir, instead of his brother, my rosh yeshivah, Rav Baruch Mordechai. I was close with him, but he did not agree to be mesader kiddushin because he believed bachurim should wait longer before starting shidduchim so they would learn longer. My shver was close with Rav Yitzchak Ezrachi, so he ended up being my mesader kiddushin.
“I always liked to be involved in creative things. My first entrepreneurial venture was publishing a summer magazine, a choveret, for kids. I was only eight or nine years old. My mother is a gifted artist, and although I am not as talented as her, I like to draw and appreciate art as well. It cost me half a shekel each to print, and I sold them for four shekels a piece. I made 500 in my first printing and they sold out immediately, so we printed more.
“Later, I did some writing for mosdos and organizations. I wrote the copy for their brochures and helped with marketing campaigns. I knew how to get a brochure everywhere in Eretz Yisrael, and I enjoyed working on the advertising aspect.
“My first real working venture was in the shipping industry. My father worked in the sefarim industry. He did the binding for many publishing companies. He had several trucks that he used to transport sefarim. I paid some bachurim to get licenses and then I rented trucks and opened a small shipping company. Most shipping companies would take one item, say a washing machine, and bring it from point A to point B. I decided to charge less than half the price, but I took ten items at a time from one city to another and saved money that way. It took a bit longer until we picked up and delivered the items, but the customers saved lots of money. Today I am not involved in that shipping company, but it is still running. That’s actually my goal in any business project that I get involved in. I try to take it to a level where I do not have to be involved in the day-to-day running of the business, so I have time for my other pursuits.
“Initially, real estate wasn’t something that I pursued as a career. After my marriage, I lived in Beit Shemesh. But I always wanted to live in Bnei Brak or Ramat Gan, near where I grew up. We did some research and found a small, nice apartment in Bnei Brak that we thought would be a good place to live. We entered into what is known in Israel as a zichron devarim, a contract that includes a down payment. Someone else who was interested in that apartment heard about the sale, and he contacted me to offer me more money than I had been willing to pay for the apartment. So I flipped the rights to it. That got me thinking about ways to make money in real estate.
“My brother and I became licensed brokers, and we started going from house to house in Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan to see if people wanted to list their apartment with us to sell. Back then there wasn’t any young blood involved in the real estate scene in Bnei Brak.
“I have always been a big believer in the power of proper advertising. We hung up signs that said, ‘Who says there are no apartments in Bnei Brak?’ In fact, that is still the company slogan on all our advertising, although now we state it as a fact: ‘There are dirot in Bnei Brak!’ For some apartments, we would submit the down payment and then flip it ourselves, but most of the time we would simply go around and sign exclusives to represent people in selling their apartments. Often, we would do light renovations to help the apartments sell. I am always looking for different and interesting ways to drive business.