Shmuel Wechsler // Kando Group and Battarix

What does a real estate renovation and construction company have to do with a cellphone-charging power pack company? Simple: They are both run by Shmuel Wechsler.
Shmuel started Kando (pronounced Can-Do) with Tzvi Reifer as a company providing property preservation on foreclosed homes, keeping up the properties for the banks until they could sell them. Today, Kando completes field and construction services for their clients across the US. They’re known for their streamlined process and communication, whether it’s for a client with hundreds of single-family homes or a community with 400 apartments.
Along the way, Shmuel discovered Battarix, makers of the world’s smallest charge card. No bigger than a credit card, it can power a cell phone for several hours in case of emergency. Intrigued, Shmuel bought the company and is now working on taking it to the next level.
We discussed his tips on how to maintain client loyalty, value-add renovation and balancing two businesses at once. Enjoy!           —Nesanel

I’m the grandson of survivors. My paternal grandfather, Shmuel (for whom I’m named), and grandmother escaped the war through Holland with their two young sons. They came to England on the Kindertransport, but when they arrived in the UK, my grandmother—who was Swiss—was sent to jail with her babies, due to her association with my grandfather, who was German. Oddly, they didn’t arrest my grandfather.
“From the UK, they moved to Washington Heights, where my father was born, then to Monsey for the summers in 1950. My grandfather owned a toy importing company called Elmar. My father worked there until the business closed, when he went to work for Met Council. My mother took care of us while running the Beis Tefillah Monsey library for the last 40 years. Later, my father started a chesed organization called She’eris Haplate. He collects food from simchos and gives it to people in need.
“I was born in Washington Heights, where we lived until I was four years old, when we moved to Monsey. I’m one of five boys. I went to Beis Shraga and Belle Harbor for beis midrash, where I was very close to Rav Levy Dicker. Then I went to the Mir and BMG. In the Mir, I learned by Rav Refael Shmulevitz and was also in Rav Refael’s first chaburahs.
“I wasn’t entrepreneurial at all as a kid or a teenager. In fact, I’m an entrepreneur by mistake. I liked to go to yeshivah, and I liked to play ball with my friends during bein hazmanim. I never thought of doing anything to make money.
“I got married when I was 23. By 28, I had three kids, money was tight, and I needed a job. I had learned in kollel for five years and had absolutely zero work experience. I met my friend in the parking lot of BMG and told him I was looking for a job. He told me his uncle, who was a well-known artist, was looking for a salesman. So I went to Boro Park to interview and got the job. The commute was hard, and it wasn’t working out, so I started looking for something else.
“During this time, in 2000, I met a friend who was working for Meridian Residential, a residential mortgage business. He told me that they were opening an office in Englewood, New Jersey, led by David Brecher, who was with me in the Belle Harbor yeshivah. He hired me, and I traveled from Lakewood to Englewood every day to sell residential mortgages. After two years, an opportunity came up in the commercial office, Meridian Capital. They were opening a small branch in Lakewood and were looking for people to work from there. It was local and I was encouraged by a partner, Howard Zuckerman, to take the job.

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