About Eran Gefen and what is “half an hour of inspiration”
“Half an hour of inspiration” is a podcast by Eran Gefen: conversations with CEOs from a variety of fields on management issues, innovation, growth trends, and more. Gefen is an innovation expert and the founder of G^Team, a strategic consulting company that helps companies develop new growth engines. He has experience Working with leading companies in Israel and the world, including Coca Cola, Walt, Microsoft Strauss and Kimberly Clark.A previous company he founded was acquired by WIX.
Eran Gefen, CEO of G^Team, a strategic consulting company, in a conversation with Moshe Mamrod, CEO of Tadiran and its controlling owners
In our preliminary conversation, Moshe Mamrod, CEO of Tadiran and its controlling owners, told me that his last name originates in Syria, where his father was born, and refers to a rebellious, stubborn and fighting family. Today I understand how appropriate this is for someone who pushed himself up from the first station as the owner of a laboratory From repairing washing machines to owning Tadiran, which is worth billions. As with many of the owners and managers I work with, underneath the professional suit, the strategies, the business analyses, the management models, the Excels, you can notice an internal combustion engine that sets them apart from the rest of the world.
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Moshe Mamrod, tell me about the group.
“Tadiran is a group that is divided into two legs: one is the whole world of air conditioners, heat pumps, chillers; the other is in the energy sector. It employs more than 600 people, and trades at NIS 3 billion, and that’s after the avalanche that followed the period. The peak was close to NIS 5 billion a few months ago.”
And sales and profit?
“The group finished 2023 with sales of 2.3 billion shekels. It recorded a very large growth compared to the year before, when we made 1.4 billion shekels. Regarding the profit in 2021 we made 140 million shekels and in 2022 we made a little less than 100 million shekels, because We had a special provision for a purchase, but the rates are 140 north.”
And how did you get to the company?
“I was born in Be’er Sheva. Until the age of 36 I lived there and in the nearby Omer. I am Be’er Sheva at heart. When I finished the army I wanted to be a businessman. I came from a very, very conservative home. My father was a palmist, then a civil servant; Mother is a housewife. It was important after the army to go to an orderly place. My mother convinced me to go for the exams at the KMG (the Nuclear Research Institute – AG). But I – business flows in my blood. To please her I said: OK, I’ll take the test. After two or three months she came to me all enthusiastic with some paper in her hand and said that I was accepted. I said: OK, I’m not going there.”
Moshe Mamrod (70)
personal: Married + 5, lives in Tel Aviv
professional: CEO and controlling owner of Tadiran Group
Something else: A staunch fan of Hapoel Beer Sheva; was her sponsor during the seasons when she was champion
Why did you want to be a businessman? Where did it come from?
“So the truth is that it came from my father. After the Palmach he was in the security service and then started a business. He had a fabric shop and he tried to get ahead and took a partner, but he gave him half literally for free. Something in the partnership went wrong, and at the end of the day my father stayed out and the partner took the business. I lived in a house where this story is constantly being told. I saw him there and we lived this thing.”
“Yes, and I said that for me it would be sweet revenge to succeed. It burned in me like I don’t know what. It’s a shame that my father is gone so that I can show him the directions, the heights.”
So with this narrative feeling of missing out – what did you do?
“In high school I majored in electrical engineering, so after the army I opened a workshop, a laboratory for repairing washing machines. I was with a partner and we worked well. I saw that customers liked me a lot, believed in me, trusted me. But there wasn’t much money, and then, in the early 1980s, people They stopped repairing, with every little problem they would buy a new one. Everyone, before buying a new washing machine, would come to me and ask me what to buy. I said: Well, everyone asks me what I recommend, I will open a store and sell them what they want.
“I opened a store in Be’er Sheva. All the sharks of the past were in front of me. I’m such a motivated kid, but with nothing, and within two or three years I became number one in the city. I really succeeded in an unusual way. I sold at very fair prices and gave good treatment and service. The competitors did not They understood what attitude is, what service is, they were such adults. I came, I hugged, and it worked hard. After a few years I said: Valk, let’s do something now, because if I don’t do something, tomorrow a young boy will come and do to me what I did for adults
Mamrod (left) in a newspaper ad for his first business. “I saw that customers trust me” / Photo: from an article in the Sheva newspaper
“The big companies we used to work with would take us on incentive trips. On one of the trips I met several people with businesses in the field from different cities. We said: let’s organize a buying group, let’s set up our own import, and we’ll buy the products from our import company. We’ll make a profit both here and there.”
Wow, those who took you on the trip must have regretted it. They want purchasing power now.
“The funny thing is that the ones who took us on this trip are the ones from whom I ended up buying Tadiran. Tadiran took the trip.
“In any case, we decided it was a good idea, we organized, implemented and established an import company, from which all our stores buy.”
It sounds good but also sounds like a salad recipe.
“True. And then our accountant also had an idea to merge all the stores and issue on the stock exchange. We were young, we said ‘let’s go’. We really went to the stock exchange, everything worked out. We raised a lot of money, and then things started between us, things didn’t go well.”
It’s like a pre-written script.
“Clear and smooth. Then this one bought this and this one bought that. In the end I bought them all. I had no money, but I was always the favorite at the banks, and they always agreed to lend me money.”
“I think I was good and reliable. I was a performer, and I kept everything I promised.”
Listen, it’s a significant leap forward, to go from being one of the partners around the table to the one sitting at the head of the table. Where does this hunger come from? because you already succeeded?
“You asked me how much the company is worth today, 3 billion shekels. Do you think I’m full? I’m the hungriest there is. I’m very accomplished, I really like being a leader, number one. At no point in my life have I sat down. Today I’m 70 years old and I’m constantly on 200 “.
And what abilities at that time allowed you to make the move? What was your superpower at that point?
“I think this is the relationship I created with the banks. After all, at the end of the day, no one had money, and the banks had to give to someone, the writing was on the wall to whom they would give. They saw me as someone they could trust to give them the money and see them back. I wanted To break through, I wanted to make an impact, and a public company was a great platform for me – suddenly you win, you lose, you see your results reflected every quarter, and it’s beautiful, I really wanted it.”
At that point wasn’t it jumping over the navel?
“No no no. I jump but not above the navel, it’s a reasonable jump.”
Okay, so what happened?
“This public company was called Topline, and it then purchased the Crystal company, which was a manufacturer and importer. We wanted to take the money and put it into a brand with capabilities. It was a market leader in the washing machine market, and I turned it into a company that has everything, all the products.
“I really felt that I had the ability to manage, even though I didn’t go to high school, I came hungry with motivations and an exceptional ability to learn. I went into managing a public company without knowing what a balance sheet was, I didn’t know a word of English, I had never managed many people.”
So you didn’t have imposter syndrome?
“No. I said: I now have to study. I called my accountant and said to him: You have a few days to teach me how to look at reports. Today in our finance department they say that I speak to them at the level of an accountant. I learned it well. Even in English – I felt That I’m losing money because I don’t know how to negotiate with the supplier. I hired a teacher, and after a year I was already doing board meetings in English. I knew how to fill in the gaps.”
“It was a sleepy company without a fighting spirit”
So how did you actually get to Tadiran?
“In 2008, the crisis started and I started looking. I constantly make sure that the company is not leveraged, but liquid, I call it firepower. In 2009, an investment banker approached me and said: Moshe, Tadiran is for sale – are you interested? I told him ‘no’. Because Tadiran was already out of the story.”
as an actor? As a market share?
“As an actor. I’m already tired of picking up companies from the floor and lifting them up, because I did it at Crystal. He tried to convince me, so I consulted with my accountant, and he told me: listen, this is a good company, you’ll succeed. I agreed to sit and listen, and somehow I got infected.”
What was Tadiran then for you?
“I purchased Tadiran in 2010 when it was a company with an 18% market share and a loss of NIS 300 million in ten years.”
piece of sick bed. Who gave her all this money?
“She was owned by the American Carrier, which didn’t move the needle much for her.”
Was the purchase at a good price?
“I bought Tadiran for NIS 15 million.”
Yes, it is an amount that reflects as if “take it from us”.
“Take it from us please.”
But did you know you were going to lose?
“I knew that I would lose the maximum in the first year, because the word losing does not exist for me. I know how to cut things that I see no chance of recovering.”
But it takes time to turn around, you bought a bloody business.
“I hired a female CEO and we started managing things. For example, they would export, produce and sell to companies around the world without any security for money. I cut it right off. Anything that is a bit dangerous I cut. Besides, I took all the products, there were dozens of SKUs, most of them were losers, and I identified some SKUs that are reasonable. I started studying, I understood what needed to be done, I focused on a few issues and cut expenses. I added expenses in the field of sales and engineering, and in the second quarter the company started making money.”
I’m just trying to understand what you did: you looked at the entire portfolio, you identified signs of oil, you identified many mistakes, you closed and stopped the bleeding. Did it require expertise or would any person with common sense and knowledge in the field know what works and what doesn’t work? I’m looking for your superpower.
“I’ll tell you, it took courage. I’ll give you an example: I suddenly recognize that this unit isn’t making money, I ask the manager and he tells me a thousand stories, and I listen listen listen listen, then I say to him: My dear, you are very persuasive, but tomorrow I’m closing it. You need courage here, because you can still make a mistake. But I was blessed with quick decisions, and just as I cut, so also when I spot a business opportunity, I know how to grab it.”
Okay, so in the second trimester she already stops bleeding.
“And then you start to recognize that there is crazy potential here. When I start studying Tadiran and digging, I realize that we have an amazing product, with crazy technological capabilities, but we don’t sell it. It was such a sleepy company, with no fighting spirit for the marketing people, they didn’t know how to present and explain the The abilities and qualities. So I say: I need a God like that to come and explain to everyone what kind of product we have.”
So you brought the creative?
“I brought the creative. I won’t forget they came to me and said, ‘We have something crazy,’ and showed me Morgan Freeman. In my heart, I said to myself, ‘You’re doing it, but don’t get excited, so you don’t get ripped off.'” In short, we really went on a campaign Such and such and such and we continued in line.”
Freeman in an advertisement for Tadiran. ”I said: I need God to explain to everyone what product we have” / Photo: courtesy of Tadiran
Purchases amounting to NIS 300 million in the energy sector
What was the hardest fight?
“The hardest battle is to start convincing the people, because we really demanded prices, we didn’t compromise, we had a very expensive product compared to others.”
And how is the market share?
“Today I think we are leading with 40% in my estimation.”
I recognize a pattern here: every time you go up a level and then establish it and then start to get the itch.
“I feel the competitor coming towards me. That’s what motivates me. I’m always at a stage where I say: we have to run because we’re being chased.”
What failures have you had in life?
“I’ll tell you a story. I bought the Amkor factories, there was no technology there, the cost of producing the product in Israel was impossible, and there were some 30-40 importers of refrigerators of all kinds of brands. I found myself in a catastrophe and I had no choice. I saw that I Losing money and I decided to close the factory, it was the hardest decision of my life, I cried like a child. I built a team of 100 people whose job was to find everyone a job. So there are also failures.”
And what is your weakness?
“Patience, and I’m working on it. Until recently, they would come to me for meetings and I was so short. Little by little I realized that I was stressing the other side, and I started working on myself, counting from one to ten. It helps me, I was able to shape it.”
So what’s the next big thing?
“Establishing Tadiran as an air conditioning player among the largest in the world. This is my dream.”
And the world of energy?
The world of energy is very interesting. In 2019 we made a decision that Tehran needs to build another leg, that it cannot stand only on air conditioning. We thought it was more correct for a company that wants to develop and grow and be global. In 2021 we purchased the number one company in Israel for solar energy, it’s called Eliran Solar, for NIS 100 or so million. Seven or eight months later, Aviam-Tensor, a company that deals with storage, etc., for NIS 50 million. In January 2022, we acquired VP Solar, which is a market leader in Italy, for approximately 40 million euros. This activity of ours ended the year not far from a billion shekels.”
So let’s think: so far everything is going well. It seems to me that the company’s biggest risk is you. Look how dominant you are here and you are already 70 years old.
“I accept that it’s a risk. But in recent years I’ve started to build the management team here, I have managers at the highest levels available. I’m the dreamer and I’m the glue and I’m the leader, but there are managers, there are plans. Two months ago we presented a four-year strategic plan that reaches 4.5 billion Shekel. There’s no way we won’t get there. The system works in an unusual way, there are good managers, I just listen and hug. The DNA here is crazy, to move forward and develop and break ceilings.”
Eran Gefen is the founder G^Team, a strategic consulting company, which helps companies develop new growth engines. He has experience working with CEOs and managements of the leading companies in Israel and the world, including Coca Cola, Walt, Microsoft, Strauss and Kimberly Clark. A previous company he founded was purchased by WIX. Geffen runs the podcast “Half an hour of inspiration” And the author of the book “Creating growth – this is how you turn business creativity into a work plan”.