Scott Ehrenkranz

Multi-Generation Family Business When did the business first start and by who?

My grandfather Henry Ehrenkranz, started the business in Houston, in 1947. He found a small window cleaning business that was for sale called University Window Cleaners. At the time he was working for his family window cleaning business, International Services based in Newark, New Jersey. 

When did you dad take over?

My dad started working for the company in 1977, a year after he graduated college.

  What challenges did he have working for his dad?

Unfortunately my dad only got to work with him for a year and a half. Henry died unexpectedly in 1978. My dad's challenge was that he had to learn the window cleaning business by himself, without the help of his father. At the time of my grandfathers death my father was more involved in another branch of the business which was janitorial services. He knew very little about the window cleaning division of the company. This division of the company was run strictly by my grandfather Henry. The only experience my dad had in window cleaning was route work when he was in high school. So simply put, he had to learn everything about the window cleaning business from the window cleaners that worked for his father at the time.

When did you come into the biz?

When I was fifteen I worked during the summers for the family business as a window cleaner, mostly with the residential guys. On occasion my dad would send me with the commercial crews so I could get a chance to get to know everyone. This got me some real hands on experience in case I did ever want to come to work for the company when I was ready. I'd come home during the college summer breaks and primary worked with the high-rise crews. It was around that time that I realized I did in fact want to come into the family business after college. About 3 years after graduation, when I was 26, I started working here full time on the management side, that was early 2014.

Were you doing something else when you came into business?

I was actually a fully licensed financial advisor, series 7 and all. I wore a suit and tie to work every day, and dealt in investments. The last two years before coming to the family business I was an in house financial advisor at a well known bank. At the bank, part of my job consisted of selling lending products to all customers, some who admittedly had bad credit, and products to people they didn't want or need. With all the pressure to meet their sales goals I became disillusioned with the banking industry. I was happy with investing and serving the clients I became friends with, but management was more concerned with selling product than it was making the right investments decisions for them. After two years of this my dad and I decided it was the right time for me to join the family business.

Why did you want to enter family business?

Aside from the above, it was always part of the plan to join the family business. My dad and I agreed that working outside the company out of college, would be for the best. It helped me see how other companies ran their businesses so that I could bring something new to the table. While I was still working for the bank I would take vacation time to go to some of the IWCA Trade Shows with my dad. From the trade shows I saw opportunities for me to market and help the company grow, I wanted to be a part of that. Contributing to our steady growth over the years has been really gratifying.

Another reason, was that we have a positive family culture in our company, which makes for a great work environment. Most of our employees have been with us for over 15 years. We offer them insurance, and some retirement benefits. They're proud to work here and it shows through their attitudes and work performance. I always wanted to help to be a part of that.

  Scott and his Business What has been challenges you have faced while working with your dad?

My dad and I have always been close, but working together offers a different challenge. We each bring a different skill set to the table and we approach some problems differently. My dads more old school in his philosophy, and I would like to step up our market and approach to technology.

When I came to work here it was decided that we were going to share responsibilities on running the company. One of the biggest challenges I've had  working with my dad was for others to accept me in the second management role, as it is in all family businesses. My dad and I thought it would help to work in the field for some time upon coming into management. It was difficult for some of the window cleaners that taught me how to fan a window and repel down a building, to now consider me their boss- yet over time this worked itself out.

Another big challenge has been taking a company that's been doing the same thing with great success for 70 years, and making it work more efficiently with today's current technology. Constantly implementing new ways to make things more efficient, while running a company has been a little challenging at times to say the least.

What do you look most forward to changing/ Keeping the same?

Good question, changing? I'd have to say constantly keeping up with the times and changing how our back of office is run, implementing new systems to make things more efficient, would be my number one thing.

Keeping the same? The family culture that my grandfather created 70 years ago. I think the key to our success has been retaining employees. This keeps the quality of our product high, and that is what keeps our phones ringing.

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You run a business, so you’ve read the books and articles, watched the videos, and listened to the webcasts looking for answers. Ways to increase sales, decrease costs, improve systems, and most of all, increase profits. You’ve heard the basics: Make a good impression - Do one thing and do it well -Effectively communicate your message - Make incremental changes and measure the results - Keep good records - To grow you must delegate - and how bout, Learn from your mistakes. But how can you implement any of these theoretical ideas into your real business?