Shlomo Khodara smiles a lot. He greets his employees every morning as enthusiastically as he greets his biggest New York customers. You’ll catch him smiling at the neighbor kid biking down the street, and at black-tie donors at Manhattan benefit galas.
Khodara’s open friendliness is nothing new. Ever since he emigrated to the US in 1987, the young Israeli Army vet has felt fortunate to be living in a land of opportunity. Hawking women’s slippers at street fairs, the natural salesman knew he was born for entrepreneurship. When he chanced on an opportunity to start his own business, he grabbed it — with one AC unit and $20 to his name.
Today Khodara prides himself on the diversity of his employees and the fun, positive atmosphere in his busy HVAC shop. He’s a firm believer in employee motivation and holds quasi-pep rallies every month to get his workers psyched about their important roles in the company’s success. He makes an effort to hire immigrants, and when they’re ready, he even helps them start their own subcontracting businesses.