Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001


Um, so here you are in Detroit. You're working all kinds of jobs. Going to school for awhile and then...

I, I graduated electrical engineering and electronic engineering from the Electronics Institute.

Electronics Institute. What year was that?

That was 1952. See I came here in 1948, late, and I went to school in 1949, 1950, '51, and part of--I was going to school full time. At first to Wayne, as I stated before, for the first two years. Or two and a half, whatever it was. And then to the eh, Electronics Institute, uh. I, I'm, I, the Electronics Institute was, was another problem, once I graduated I could have gotten a job with eh, RCA and Zenith down in California. I didn't want to go to California. I mean I just gradua...I want to stay with my mother. What am I going to go to California for?

She wouldn't move to California. She wanted to stay with her family.

Of, of course not. She, we had friends, family here. What am I going to move to California. So at that time I was working for Bob Warner Corporation, night shift. I was getting ninety-seven dollars a week. It was a beautiful wage. So, so I was, I had a beautiful position at Bob Warner. I was working with a huge piece of machinery, probably one of the largest, eh. So the qu...the question was what will I do. Now, I, I, I, I am, I am electrical engineer, I'm electronic engineer--I got both--uh, where do I get a job? I, I decided to look for a job in, in the television service industry, in the television industry. And eh, I got the job with eh, House of Television I remember. Thirty-seven and a half dollars a week. My mother thought I'm the craziest guy in the world. How do you go from ninety-seven dollars a week to thirty-seven? But I told my mother, I mean, I, I spent all the time learning, I, I have to, I have to start somewhere. I did get the job. I worked for the House of Television as an outside serviceman, television serviceman. Well it was a very fortunate for me, because at that place there was another fellow working as a benchman already, a fellow who knew television service extremely well. Eh, benchmen usually did the, did the work that the outside man couldn't do, the benchman. He'd bring the television in and the benchman work on it. A fellow by the name of Max Markowitz. And we met one day. The truth is that I worked two weeks for House of Television at thirty-seven and a half. I had five hundred dollars and Max Markowitz had tools, okay. He had a little meter, he had some tools. And we went and we opened a store on Lindwood and Gladstone. We opened it, Mark and Ferber Television Service. So it was, it was quite an undertaking. Five hundred dollars was all the money I had at the time. We bought the bench and whatever was necessary, the sign. We uh, we put together--not really we--I put together some advertising, which was to be hung on doors. At that time everybody, that was the style. Eh, like a five by eh, eight card. And we used to get up at eh, four, five o'clock in the morning. He took a thousand of these eh, cards and I took a thousand and we run on each side of the street. He on his side, I on the other side. We used to hang them up on, on, on people homes. And eh, go back home around 8:15, got cleaned up, washed up, got dressed, and by nine o'clock we were in the store looking for service. It was a good start and it was, it was for--it was good, it worked out, it worked beautiful. We became successful. And uh, uh, to make it real fast, four years later we parted. We're still friends today, fifty-six years later, we're as close as brothers. We parted eh, for a number of reasons. Eh, maybe I was a little bit eh, eh, I was trying a little harder and he was a little easier, easier going, eh. And after awhile eh, it, it was bothering me. Small little things which got to bother me. And eh, so I, I, we made a decision to part and he decided to stay with the old store and I'll, went on Six Mile Road at St. Mary's in Detroit, in Detroit and purchased somebody else's television store. And eh, it took a little time. Things were, things improved. Things were great. I was a few years in the television service business, I'd done from good to better, from better to, to much better. Uh, and uh, to, to make it quick and one day, one day I was quite entrepreneurial in my advertising and in my servicing, uh. And one day I decided there was electronic show in Chicago and I decided to go to the show. And that was like an eye opener. At, at that show eh, all of a sudden over there I could purchase a cartridge that, you know. At that time everybody had records and you, to play the records you needed cartridges with the needles in it. Eh, and the same needle that I was, the same cartridge which I was buying from Glendale electronics at six dollars or six and a half retailing for $9.95, I could purchase the same cartridge in lots of 100 without the box, just factory eh, box of 100 at a dollar a piece. It was a reve...revelation. Anyhow, I, I bought the hundred. I put them in the plastic eh, boxes, and started to eh, to pedal them to other, to other television stores for two dollars. I mean, you know, there was, eh. I'm making a dollar a piece was tremendous amount of money. And I did it only in my part- time, in part-time because I still had to run the television store out of my trunk. But before I knew, I was buying more condensers and resistors and other things and tubes. Began to buy the same way through people in Chicago and st...started a wholesale operation rather than retail. And one day eh, I did more and more of that, I decided that-- My mother was at that time eh, working elsewhere. I de... sometimes she came to help me on Saturdays. I decided to give up the television service and I gave it to my mother, the television service and I moved few blocks away and opened a, a place I called House of Imports. Because I was marketing the transistors, resistors, tubes, but also transistor radios. And that was the big start of House of Imports, which later for the next twenty years was uh, became quite successful.

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