Business People » Real Estate Entrepreneurs » TED LERNER
Theodore N. Lerner, commonly referred as Ted Lerner, is a prominent American real estate developer. He started his career with just $250, borrowed from his wife and worked steadily up the ladder. Looking back, he said in the October 2013 issue of Forbes Life Magazine, “To say the first year was tough is an understatement. I grossed $1,050.” However, he did not let that dampen his spirit. The situation began to improve from the second year. Today, he is not only a respected real estate developer in Washington D.C., but he is also the largest private landowner of this area and the managing owner of Washington Nationals—a professional baseball team. His company, Lerner Enterprise, has so far built 20 million square feet of commercial and retail space, more than 22,000 private homes and over 7,000 apartment units. Honest that he is, he has attributed this success, to his blood. In the same article we find him saying, “Real estate is in my blood”. Indeed, he may have inherited the business acumen from his father; but it his hard and consistent work that has made him what he is and has ensured a place on the Forbes list.
On graduating from law School, Ted Lerner decided to practice law. On his first case, he was appointed by the court to represent a parking attendant charged with stealing cars he was supposed to park. The parking attendant was sentenced for two years; but Ted somehow managed to reduce the sentence to six months. However, Ted did not get any payment for it; his client managed to leave the town without paying him.
Fed up with the incident, Ted decided to take up full time real estate business. It was 1952 and he was by then 25 years old and married. His wife Annett, who worked as a secretary in the State Department, offered a loan of 250 dollars and with that he founded a real estate company called Lerner Enterprise.
The first year was really tough for him. However, things began to improve from the second year. He met a home builder, who had four hundred finished houses that he could not sell. Within a short period Ted sold all of them. He not only earned a good profit from them, but as the word got around, his business increased. From 1952 to 1958, Ted sold 220000 homes.
In 1958, Ted decided to develop real estate himself and got an opportunity to build a shopping center. It was Wheaton Plaza, one of the first open malls in Washington DC that opened in 1960.
In 1965, his company was authorized to issue ninety-five shares of no-par common stocks. Ted acquired seventy shares while his brother Lawrence received twenty five. While Ted became the President Lawrence became the Secretary. They were also the directors of the firm.
Lerner Enterprise next purchased two large pieces of ground in Tysons Corner in Virginia. At that time, the area looked very unpromising; but very soon developed into a prosperous locality. Here he built Tysons Corner Center in partnership with Isadore Guldesky. It was opened to public in 1968.
Over the years Lerner Enterprise built thousands of homes, apartment buildings, office buildings etc in the Washington DC area and thus it became a household name.
In 1983, the relation between two brothers deteriorated and Lawrence was removed from his post. It was followed by a protracted legal battle.
On 16 October 1987, a settlement was reached between the two brothers. Accordingly, Ted became the chief operating authority and Lawrence ceased to have any active role in the company. However, he remained a shareholder and was entitled to receive shareholder’s distribution. Additionally, Ted was allowed to use the resources of Lerner Enterprise to fund his other projects. Thus Ted became the sole managing authority in the company he created with his wife’s money
Other than Wheaton Plaza and Tysons Corner, some other major ventures undertaken by Ted Lerner and his company are Tysons Galleria, popularly known as Tysons II and shopping centers like White Flint and Dulles Town Center.
Ted also has a partnership in Chelsea Piers, a 30-acre sports and entertainment complex on the Hudson River in New York City
He is also the Managing Principle Owner of Washington Nationals, a professional baseball team based in Washington DC. He acquired the franchise in 2006 and now controls 90% of the shares.
Ted Lerner was born on October 15, 1925, in Washington DC, to Mayer and Ethel Lerner. Ted has a brother named Lawrence and a sister named Esther. Since their parents were Jewish by faith Ted and his siblings were brought up in Orthodox Jewish tradition.
Ted started his education at Raymond Elementary School. After that he went to McFarland Junior High. Finally he graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1944.
At that time the World War II was going on. After graduation, Ted joined the army as a typist and was stationed at Fort Hood in Waco, Texas. He got out of the service in 1946.
On coming out of the army, Ted decided to continue his studies and joined George Washington University on GI Bill. He first received a degree in Associate of Arts.
He next joined George Washington University Law School and completed his LLB in 1949. While he was in the law school, he used to sell homes on the weekend so that he could support his widowed mother and his two younger siblings. This kindled his interest in real estate.
Ted Lerner met his would be wife Annette at a fraternity dance. He proposed to her within two weeks. They got married in 1951. The couple has three children and nine grandchildren.
Their son Mark D. Lerner is married to Judy Lenkin. Among the daughters, Debra is married to Edward L. Cohen while Marla married Robert K. Tanenbaum. All of them are involved in Lerner Enterprise.
In 1990, Ted Lerner was awarded with the Golden Plate Award of Excellence by the American Academy of Achievement.
In 1999, Lerner Enterprises was voted as Greater Washington Family Business of the Year.
In 2003, he was elected to the Washington Business Hall of Fame by Junior Achievement, a nonprofit youth organization founded in 1919.
In 2007, he was honored as a Charter Inductee in the George Washington University School of Business Sports Hall of Fame. .