Though she spent time as an inner-city school teacher in the South Bronx and practiced law for a Chicago firm, ultimately, it was the family business that placed the winning bid for Shira Weissman.
“Growing up in a family business means business is woven into family life,” she says. “Throughout my childhood, I attended auctions, running bids from the auction floor to the accounting staff, talking with buyers with my father to assess interest in a certain item.”
Her memories are typical among anyone who grew up in a family business: family vacations were scheduled around the next auction location and there always was an extra setting at the dinner table for an out-of-town business guest or someone from the office.
But along the way, Shira also learned important lessons from her father, Irving Rabin, one of four brothers who founded what is now Rabin Worldwide after returning from the Korean War to sell war surplus. Since then, the company has evolved to become an industry leader in the asset liquidation industry. While the company now touches every industrial sector, it has deep expertise in the food and beverage processing and packaging sector, with more than 50 years of experience buying and selling food processing facilities across the United States and Europe. The company also has extensive experience in the mining and paper industry and has successfully redeveloped a number of these industrial sites for their next use.
How to Succeed in Business
Though the company is now controlled by subsequent generations, Irvin Rabin’s tried-and-true business mottos remain:
- Buy low and sell high – make your money on the buy
- Treat everyone with respect and stand by your good reputation, it lasts much longer than a quick profit
- Treat clients and buyers as family
- Be cautious with debt and never rely on low interest rates to make a deal work
“And, of course, a bird in the hand – you never go broke taking a profit,” she remembers. “Don’t go elephant hunting for the perfect buyer if there is an opportunity to sell at a good price. Though we have evolved and matured over the years, these philosophies still guide how we do business today.”
Perhaps that is what ultimate drew Shira back to Rabin?
“I did not plan to join the family business growing up and thought I would do something completely different, which I did for a period,” she says. “But life has a funny way of leading you in a circle and it took me back to San Francisco. I started working at Rabin just to help for a few months. That was 12 years ago.”
Her current role at Rabin is to run operations and grow many of the company’s strategic business relationships, in addition to assisting with legal documents and compliance issues.
“As in many small businesses, the best part of the job is getting to wear many hats,” she says. “My favorite? Chasing a good deal!”
Leading the Industry Forward
As president of the Industrial Auctioneers Association, Shira enjoys combining her own personal career experience with industry knowledge to advance the industry.
“Rabin was involved in the early infancy of the IAA, so it feels right that I take the mantle of the presidency at this moment,” she says. “It’s been tremendous for Rabin to be a part of the IAA. It’s important to me, as the first female president of the IAA, to move the organization forward, to be more inclusive and promote the many voices already in the room.”
One of her first moves as president was to nominate two women to the IAA board, which added another first to the organization’s history.
“In addition, our current vice president, Duncan Ainscough, is from the UK, and he will be our first European president,” she says. “The IAA is expanding its international footprint and growing our European membership.”
The association is also launching a new website, which will better highlight the IAA’s achievements, promote its member image as the leaders in the industrial equipment landscape, and be a better resource for members and the industry.
“It has been such a pleasure serving on the board, and I feel so lucky to work with my incredible colleagues in our work for this organization,” she says.