Boruch Moishe Lobenstein’s maintenance and security company BML Group provides more than just what you might associate with those words. Whenever a property owner or management company needs any kind of service work done—from plumbing to electrical to filing paperwork—they call BML. BML Group gets the job done, quickly and effectively. They handle dozens of these calls daily.
BML Group also provides security personnel for residential and commercial properties across the UK and Northern Ireland. Due to the heightened insecurity world Jewry is experiencing, I asked Boruch Moishe about security measures that shuls can implement immediately.
After starting his company, Boruch Moishe had to shutter it almost immediately. It was saved when someone took a chance on him and helped him out—and he wants to do the same for others.
I grew up in London with my 12 siblings; I am number nine in the order. I come from a Yekkishe background. My grandfather, Joe Lobenstein, who passed away eight years ago, was the mayor of Hackney for many years. He was a brilliant man and a big askan, and he was on good terms with everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike.
“My father is involved in various types of askanus, and he has run the European Yarchei Kallah for the last 40 years. It is 100% nonprofit. People from around the world attend, even gedolim from Eretz Yisrael, wherever it is held. This year, it will be based in England.
“My mother’s father, Mr. Alex Lewenstein, was also a big askan, in Zurich, Switzerland. He built the Yiddishe school in Zurich; he actually founded the whole chinuch there.
“I went to Be’er HaTorah in Gateshead and then to Yagdil Torah in Israel. I switched to a different yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael, but after a while I felt I needed to come home and go to work. I called my parents and told them that I was coming home to find a job. I wanted to build a business.
“My parents supported my decision, and I returned home. I must tell you that I learn better now than I did then.
“When I was younger, I was always an askan-type entrepreneur. I have been working since I was ten years old. I worked after school in the local grocery store and got paid five pounds an hour. As an added bonus, every time a new candy or snack came out, I was allowed to take one home.
“My parents were just happy that I was occupied and safe instead of messing around. They knew where I was and what I was doing. They were always very supportive of me. To be honest, I don’t have the patience to sit for long, not even for this interview, but you asked for a Zoom interview, so here I am.
“When I was 13 years old, I spent bein hazmanim selling covers for the tap (sink) for Pesach from my yeshivah dorm. I had seen one in a store in Eretz Yisrael, and I thought it could sell well here too. In England, everyone used to do it themselves, trying to use whatever cloth they had. I designed ones that slipped on easily and imported them from China. I put my own logo on them. I sold thousands; all of the stores in the UK and Europe carried them.
“I only worked during bein hazmanim. When I was 15, I worked in a Pesach store. When I was at Yagdil in Eretz Yisrael, I opened up a canteen in the American dormitory. A mashgiach heard about my business and came to talk to me about it. I believe he wanted to shut me down, but after talking to me he allowed me to keep it open.
“Back in the UK, I tried Amazon and eBay but couldn’t make it work for me. I realized you had to be big to make it.
“I started working for Duvi Margulies as his PA (personal assistant). He is a very chashuve person. He taught me how to write emails and set me up for the real business world. He was in commodities at the time, selling cocoa and coffee. After I’d been with him for a year, he asked me to build a new office for him in the city. I arranged a building project for him for 40 people, complete with air conditioning, building control and management. It was a great experience.
“Soon after the inauguration of the new office, I left. I met a young man in our community who was connected to the property business. I told him, ‘Let’s open a maintenance company. If you bring the work, I will do it. We can go 50/50.’ I realized from my previous job that the maintenance industry lacks service. You call the plumber with an emergency, and he says he’ll come tomorrow—maybe. I wanted to set up a company that would find providers for the service you need, when you need it.
“Our concept of maintenance is this: Whatever need or service you require, from plumbing to painting to a new washing machine, contact us and we’ll provide it, promptly and efficiently. We will make the calls, hire the right person for the job and ensure the work is done properly.
“Another reason I liked the maintenance concept was that it didn’t require an initial cash investment to start; I only had £240 to my name at the time.
“I bought a computer and set up shop in his office. Together, we opened a company called BML Maintenance—the initials of my name. I worked 24 hours a day, six days a week, calling people and telling them about our company and that we could handle any service requirements they might have. Many people in our community took a chance on us. They not only gave us chizzuk but actually gave us work, saying, ‘If you make a mistake, just tell us. Nothing will happen.’ At the time, the company did very well.
“Then I faced my first real difficulty in business. I can’t go into the details, but we had to shut down.
“I was completely burned out by the experience. But baruch Hashem, I had a friend who looked out for me.
“I did nothing for about six months. One day, I went to a shiur and a good friend of mine noticed how upset I was. He asked me what was going on, and I told him what happened. The next day he called me and said, ‘I want you to visit my father.’ His father was a very respected and well-connected businessman.
“I went. His father started talking to me about restarting my business, and I argued with him. I was 22 years old, telling a much older, established and successful person that he didn’t know what he was talking about. I was out of my mind. He said to me, ‘Boruch Moishe, I can see that you’re not with it this evening. Go home and come back tomorrow.’ He could’ve said, ‘How dare you speak to me like that! I am giving you my time and this is how you talk to me?’ My head was not in the right place, and he recognized that.
“The next day, I went back to him, and he said to me, ‘I am not giving you a choice. I want you to start your business all over again, because you are very good. I did my research on your company, and I will make sure to give you business so you have something to start with.’ He didn’t know me before this, but he gave me the chance, and I built my business based on his chizzuk and support.
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