“Sheldon Yellen has built himself a robust reputation for his unconventional management style. From his childhood hustling for a buck in the poorest neighborhoods of Detroit, he learned the critical value of relationships and trust. As CEO of BELFOR (parent company to BELFOR Restoration), he used these leadership values to grow a small construction company with a couple of million dollars in revenue into a $1.5 billion dollar industry pioneer. His story became one of the most popular episodes of Undercover Boss, earning an Emmy nomination.”
If you don’t know about Sheldon Yellen, he is the CEO who has, for 34 years, been writing birthday cards and thank you notes to his approximately 8,000 employees every year. That could be about 40 some cards a day. According to an article in Forbes, He believes the practice has helped his firm communicate better and create a culture of compassion as well as acting as a reminder that a company’s greatest asset is it’s people.
Sheldon Yellen was born into a Jewish family and he is the oldest of four boys. He and his brothers were raised by his mother alone as his father became a drug addict after taking methadone to alleviate pain for his medical conditions. Sheldon attended Southfield-Lathrup High School but was forced to dropped out of school to support his family. He would later receive his diploma when he was 53 years old.
In 1985, Sheldon went to work as a salesman for Quality Awning & Construction, a company owned by his brothers-in-law. The company also did restoration work. In 1989, Sheldon went to South Carolina which had been devastated by Hurricane Hugo. He did $17 million in sales there, doubling the company’s sales. He became CEO in 2001.
Now known as BELFOR Holdings, Inc. the company is based in Birmingham, Michigan. By 2016, the company was the world’s largest disaster restoration company operating in 31 countries with more than 350 offices and employing more than 7,700 full-time employees.
He is a guest writer for the US edition of Entrepreneur Magazine and he has written numerous articles about how to run businesses by putting people and customers first. Here are a few of those articles: 4 Ways to Ensure Your Startup Will Survive Disaster, How to Make People, Not Résumés, Your Hiring Priority, How Growing Up With Nothing Equipped Me to Run a Billion-Dollar Company. Read more of Sheldon Yellen’s articles in Entrepreneur Magazine using the link below.
Sheldon Yellon appeared on an Emmy-nominated episode of Undercover Boss on CBS. He is a man who seeks out “people who have a big heart and a passion for being good to others. Those are the type of people I want to meet because I know I can learn the most from them.”