Meilech Weber  // OJBA

One would think that someone who runs one of the most well-known Jewish trade shows would be the type of person who seeks the spotlight. But that doesn’t apply to Meilech Weber, founder of the OJBA trade show for builders and developers in the tri-state area. 

Meilech is a soft-spoken entrepreneur who has almost single-handedly defined what it means to put on a successful trade show. The OJBA is focused on the construction industry, but the companies that choose to exhibit there run the gamut from credit card processing companies to staffing companies and more. 

The OJBA show is held annually in New Jersey, with over 300 vendors and over 6,000 attendees. I spoke to Meilech to hear about the behind-the-scenes work involved in running a year-round business that relies on the success of a single day. I also asked about the advice he gives his customers: how can a company get the most out of their booth at an industry trade show? (Spoiler alert: His number one tip is to keep it simple.)

The road to success has had its twists and turns—especially because of COVID—but Meilech kept going where others might have given up. From day one, he has believed deeply in the importance of his work because, as he says, it’s all about Jews helping each other. Enjoy! 


I was born in Canada. When I was five years old, my grandfather offered my father a job in his clothing factory in Williamsburg. He accepted, and we moved to Boro Park. We are Belzer chasidim, and the majority of Belzer chasidim were living in Boro Park at that time.

“After a few years, my father became a melamed, which was something he had always aspired to do. He has been a rebbi ever since. I am the oldest of 14, bli ayin hara. My mother had a full-time job just taking care of us. 

“As a boy I attended the Belzer cheder, and then I went to Belz Yerushalayim for beis midrash. I got married at 20, and we settled down in Boro Park, where we still live. 

“When I was in yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael, I ran the kitchen on Shabbos and Yom Tov as a volunteer. I started by helping out in my first year, and then the next year I was promoted to what they called rosh hachevrah. One year on Rosh Hashanah, we had almost 1,000 people. The Belzer Rav finished davening 12 minutes before shkiah. I organized the other volunteers, and we got all 1,000 portions out of the kitchen and served within ten minutes. Today, the work that I do uses those same skills—organization and attention to detail.

“Shortly after my wedding, a friend of mine convinced me to become a bus driver. I got my commercial driver’s license and worked as a driver for a few months, but it wasn’t for me. I knew I had to try something else, and I wanted to be in a position where I could use my mind and creativity.

“I had a friend from shul who worked at Yossi’s Sweet House in Brooklyn. He mentioned that they were going to start selling mishloach manos in a big way. I started going through ideas with him, and he liked what he heard. He said, ‘You know what? Let me introduce you to my boss.’ They hired me to run the project, and we set up a temporary workshop and warehouse where we produced a few thousand packages in a few weeks. But it was a seasonal job, so before long, I was looking for something else.

“I began working at the Yeled V’Yalda early childhood center as head of maintenance. I also got involved in the construction they were doing at the time, putting up two big buildings in Boro Park. It was a nice introduction to the world of construction.

“After two years, a friend of mine asked me to manage a bungalow colony of 70 units. I was hesitant because I didn’t have any experience with that kind of work, but he encouraged me, and I went for it. That first year, there was one building that was really neglected. We decided to get rid of it and put up a new building. Fast forward three months, and we had applied for building permits and put up eight new units that were ready for the coming summer. It wasn’t easy. We worked double shifts, but we got it done. That was my first big construction project.

“I continued working in construction, but while I was busy during the summers, the winters were tough. So I started working on year-round projects on my own. I worked very, very hard. We lived in Boro Park, but most of the week I traveled upstate to Sullivan County, where my projects were.

“I worked as a contractor for a decade, doing renovations on private homes and building homes from scratch. Some of these jobs were hard. For example, there was one client who wanted to add a level to his house while they were living in it. We had to take off the roof, build the new upper level, and seal it within just three days so that the weather wouldn’t be an issue. 

“Along the way, I learned that you have to know how to limit yourself and focus on a niche market. Whatever you do, you should know it inside and out.

“In construction, especially with renovations, it’s very hard to predict the cost in advance. There were times when I did a lot of extra work and wasn’t paid for it. I tended to pay attention to every little detail, to the extent that, in the eyes of the customer, I was overdoing it. When it’s not appreciated and people don’t want to pay, it can be frustrating. Baruch Hashem, I made parnasah and my customers were very happy with me, but I didn’t make the money I should have on some of those projects.

“I landed a project to develop 57 units whose construction had been put on hold for over a year. Some parts of the infrastructure had been started. I met with the engineers and the previous contractor to understand what had been done until then, and I took it from there to the finish line. New construction is way more predictable, both in schedule and pricing. It gets a lot trickier when you take over a project that has already been started. Of course, the more experience you have as a contractor, the more you know how much time to allocate for the framer, the electrician, the plumber, etc. Between all the different stages that were involved—pre-construction planning, permits, building, selling, custom upgrades—this project kept me busy for five years. 

“When it finished in 2016, I had a decision to make: Should I continue my work in Sullivan County and take another project like that, or should I do something else? At that point, I had started working on OJBA (the Orthodox Jewish Builders Association) as a hobby. I may not have known it at the time, but the seeds for something really big had already been planted.

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