Milstein and Milshteyn: Ann Arbor brothers with different names share the same drive
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Milstein was the top mortgage originator in the country in 2010, closing $385 million in loans. One year later, Milshteyn sold 160 homes in the Ann Arbor area worth a combined $28.5 million.
However, if you ask the brothers themselves, they tell another story.
“I hear people saying we’re successful, you’re successful,” Dan Milstein said.
“But I don’t view myself as successful. The moment I say, ‘I’m successful,’ is the time to move all of my things out of my office into my house, pat myself on the back, and retire. Until then I’m only as good as my next client or my next employee.”
Milstein and Milshteyn came to America from the former Soviet Union in 1992 when Dan was 16 and Alex was 8. Their family came to Ann Arbor to join distant relatives because Chicago was too expensive.
“We were only able to bring one suitcase and 75 dollars per person out of the USSR,” Dan Milstein said. “We couldn’t afford Chicago so that’s how we ended up here in town, and we’ve been here ever since.”
Milstein is founder and CEO of Gold Star Mortgage, a company that has been on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in America. He also has written two books, the second of which, 17 Cents and a Dream, debuted Feb. 4.
His little brother also has harnessed the immigrant’s drive to succeed and started his own company at a young age.
“The American dream is entrepreneurship,” Alex Milshteyn said. “And that’s what we’ve done.”
“I’m an entrepreneur, I started a real estate business at the age of 18 and that’s the American dream in my opinion. Doing something you want to do and realizing its potential.”
Milshteyn is a Realtor with Howard Hanna in Ann Arbor and was named one of Realtor Magazine’s 30 under 30 in 2011.
“Alex and I have one thing in common,” Dan Milstein said. “I haven’t called in sick since 1998. I’m here every day dead or alive assisting my employees and my clients to achieve their American dream and goals.”
“It’s true,” Alex Milshteyn added. “I sometimes call my assistants and tell them not to come into work because I’m there and I don’t want to infect them with anything.”
While the two share a work ethic and a set of parents, they do not share a last name. At least, not the same spelling of their last name.
“I have the original last name,” Alex Milshteyn said. “Dan decided to be creative and change his.”
“I changed my name to make it easier in the business world, but also so it could be pronounced the way it should be pronounced,” Dan Milstein replied.
“It’s OK, because people remember my last name more,” Milshteyn said. “It’s unique, and they can’t pronounce it, but when you do get it, it’s very exciting.”
“Right, but when we came here Alex was fairly young so he dropped the accent but I still have [it],” said Milstein. “So people remember me for that. Alex is trying to be creative because he doesn’t have the accent to set him apart.”
Their age difference prevented the brothers from competing to a large extent, and they both insist that it was pure coincidence that they both entered the housing business with their own focus.
“I just ended up becoming a mortgage guy and [Alex] ended up being in real estate,” Dan Milstein said.
“I would love for Alex to come work for me at Gold Star and I’m sure he’d love for me to go and be his Realtor’s assistant, but I don’t think either of those are going to happen.”
Alex will continue to sell houses, Dan will arrange ways for people to pay for them, and neither plans to leave Ann Arbor any time soon. Milshteyn said the only place he's ever found that felt nearly as "home" as Ann Arbor was Boulder, Colorado, and he realized that was only because it reminded him of Ann Arbor.
Gold Star has been headquartered in Ann Arbor since it was founded, and Milstein said even with plans for expansion, he's not going anywhere.
“We are forever thankful to the American government and to the residents of this town for giving us the opportunity to come here,” he said.
“We had a lot of people that helped us along the way whether it was clothing to wear or a community resident who helped us with an apartment before our subsidized housing was available We have stayed on course and true to ourselves to support the city that has given us such opportunity.”
Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2
Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 5:44 p.m.
My mortgage was brokered by Dan's company and it was SO refreshing to deal with them after dealing with other companies who were obviously sales rather than service oriented. A+ to Dan. Interestingly enough the house I bought was nearly listed by Alex but I found it a day before it was to be listed with him so it was sold by owner. Alex was totally understanding and had no issues backing away from the sale/commission since it was found without him, etc. Most agents would not do that. Great set of brothers, I wish to be as successful someday!
Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 1:49 a.m.
Alex is a terrific asset to the Ann Arbor real estate community. He is regarded by his peers and colleagues as a Realtor with integrity and smarts. I always enjoy my real estate transactions with Alex, and find him to be responsive, efficient, and thorough. Thanks, Alex - - and continued success to you! Sue Perry
Sam S Smith
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.
Great news! Ann Arbor is already like rich Boulder CO so we can stop trying to be Boulder and be Ann Arbor!
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.
I applaud the Brothers Milstein (or Milshteyn) for making the most of the opportunities they found here in the United States. They're obviously both hard working, dedicated individuals. I just wish they could harness their talents for something other than real estate. Real estate agents produce nothing of value, but instead play with other people's money and dreams to extract a little money for themselves.
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.
Alex and I went to EMU together and were in the EMU Student Senate. First class all around; it's great to see him doing so well.
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 1:13 a.m.
Really interesting story of two brothers making it in Ann Arbor. Good for you guys! Also: I like the part about Boulder. Alex - I feel the same way and wanted to move there, but then realized that's just because it's so similar to Ann Arbor!
say it plain
Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.
Goodness I wish I could leave my comment with specific details about my own experience, but apparently that's not allowed and I don't want to risk being deleted again and having 'action' taken...oh well! It gets a little galling that positive experiences with lots of details are allowed, but not negative ones.
Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.
Alex was my realtor a few years ago when I was looking to buy a house. Despite my being a less than ideal client Alex was outstanding. I was trying to buy a very inexpensive house but the attention and service that I got from Alex made me feel like I was buying in Barton Hills. A few years later now my son and I are enjoying our home and I hadn't really thought about Alex until this morning. What a fascinating and surprising story, the only thing not surprising, based on my experience with Alex, is their success!
say it plain
Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.
Are these really "reports" or are they advertising? Because I've noticed that only *positive* comments about Alex are allowed on the site, and it's curious to me. Why is it okay for people to come on and say he's great but *not* that they've had issues with him? If we are talking about "entrepreneurs" here, that they are business entities, what guideline is being violated to include negative experiences? Otherwise the consumer/reader might get the impression that there are only positive experiences out there, no? Or are readers supposed to glean from the "deleted comments" that herein lies the bad reviews? Oh well...
Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:53 a.m.
It's just business. The only reason this forum exists is to geberate clicks which raise their ad rate. No clicky no money. These forums are a necessary evil. Not here for anyones amusement but the management and staff at the paper. The one I feel bad for is the one who has to delete my post....at 11PM on Sunday night. lol
Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.
"say it plain"... is this your attempt to be "Fair and Balanced"??
Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3 p.m.
These immigrants from the former Soviet Union (and Eastern Europe) appreciate America SO MUCH.
Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1 p.m.
I've worked with both and can't say enough good things about them.
Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.
I am happy to say I've had the pleasure of working with Alex as a colleague for a number of years. He is professional, efficient, knowledgeable and caring - this article does not mention his strong commitment to the community shown by the volume of volunteer work he does ranging from being a board member for non-profits to being president of the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors (which is an extremely demanding job) but this is also an important part of who he is.