Why did you start your own business?
I worked for my dad after graduating from the University of Maryland. He owned a sweater manufacturing company but two generations have two different points of view. He made the decisions and the rules, so I decided to go out on my own and start KBL. About five years later, I acquired his company.
How is the economy affecting KBL right now?
People are worried about their rent and mortgages. Apparel doesn’t make the top of the list, so we try to focus more on specialty items. The economy affects us as it affects everyone. It’s tough out there, but you can’t wave the flag and give up. You have to find new avenues for doing business.
Why are you involved with the Dingman Center?
There is a group of us that were in the TEP fraternity together at the University of Maryland and we’ve all been fortunate in our professional success. I wanted to get involved in working with students to help them start businesses. It’s is enjoyable to meet bright kids with fantastic ideas.
What is your greatest entrepreneurial challenge?
As an entrepreneur, you have to believe in your vision. A lot of people will want to tell you the way it should be, but you have to be willing to take the road less traveled.
For those who don’t want to start their own business, why is entrepreneurship important?
An entrepreneurial attitude is always important. Right now you really have to think outside the box to do business. The only constant in business is change. Things that have been successful for the past 20 years aren’t working anymore. Many companies are taking new avenues that they didn’t have to in the past. Whether you are starting your own business or working for others, new ideas are a company’s lifeline connecting the past to the future. It is entrepreneurship that drives these ideas which in turn creates new business opportunities, revenue streams, and jobs.
What advice do you have for someone starting a business?
Change always creates opportunity. The financial aspect of starting a business is a huge distraction because you need a lot of money these days. But being small and nimble today is an easier way to manage in this environment. As new opportunities evolve, you have to be flexible.
It’s always difficult to start a business. But if you have something you believe in, today’s the day to do it. As an entrepreneur, you’ll always have to overcome hurdles.
Steven Begleiter is third generation in the garment business and is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of KBL Group International. Steven is responsible for KBL’s overall vision, strategy, and execution. Having been a kid in the shipping room working for his father, starting his own business, and now running a multinational company; Steven has taken on many jobs in his career. He graduated from UMD in 1992 and lives in New Jersey with his wife Karen, and 2 children, Alex and Corey. Connect with Steven on LinkedIn