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Make It Whole

Barbara Bensoussan

Ira Zlotowitz’s first career move as a kid involved a wheelbarrow and a garbage collection route in the bungalow colony. Today, as a financial wizard whose brokerage firm closed nearly $3 billion in deals last year, he integrates the lessons learned in a family of Torah and chesed into his life as a mortgage mogul.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ira Zlotowitz gives out business cards in a rectangular plastic sleeve that holds a $2 bill. Why $2? “It makes people remember us,” he says. “We tell our clients, ‘The first $2 is free.’ ” The sleeve is embossed with the legend: “There’s Millions More Where This Came From.” But at this stage, Ira Zlotowitz doesn’t need clever shticks to be memorable. Behind the modern, round spectacles is a financial wizard now at the head of Eastern Union, a commercial mortgage brokerage firm that closed nearly $3 billion in deals in 2014. This 39-year-old mogul has merited a New York Times interview, along with inclusion in Crain’s list of “40 under Forty,” and the newspaper’s “50 Fastest-Growing Businesses.” Zlotowitz speaks with a combination of earnestness, focus, and wry humor. His words, tinged with a Brooklyn accent, tumble out quickly. “He often thinks of ideas even faster than he can speak them,” saysAnnaRothstein, his executive assistant. Eager to impart his business insights, he is otherwise very unassuming, looking mildly surprised that anybody would be interested in his personal life. The son of RabbiMeir andRachelZlotowitz,Ira literally grew up alongside his father’s ArtScroll publishing company, founded six months after his birth. He was the sixth child of eight; the first ArtScroll Gemara was published when he was in ninth grade. In those early years, he says, “there was a lot of enthusiasm at the access people suddenly had to learning, which until then was largely off-limits to the average English-speaker, but at the same time, some people voiced some skepticism.” Fortunately for the Jewish community, the Zlotowitzes have never paid attention to the naysayers. “Our father started an empire,” states brotherGedaliaZlotowitz. “Other people may have thought of the same idea, but our father was the one to start it and follow through. Yisroel [Ira] has the same kind of drive — I never see him relax.” 

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