Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Edible Arrangements--A Pakistani-American's Success Story

Tariq Farid is the founder and CEO of Edible Arrangements, a successful international franchise business that specializes in delivering gifts of beautifully arranged bouquets of edibles like fruits and candy on holidays and various other special occasions.

Currently in its 11th year of operation, the company boasts 883 franchise locations in the United States, the United Kingdom and Kuwait. The company earned $300 million in revenue last year, according to published reports.

Born near Sahiwal in Pakistan, Tariq Farid has founded several other companies. One is Frutation by Edible Arrangements, which includes salads and fruit drinks. They’re sold in Edible Arrangements stores and stand-alone stores. He also created Netsolace, which provides software for the franchise industry. Another, BerryDirect, offers containers, vases and other products to our Edible Arrangements franchisees and other companies. His latest start-up is Farid Capital Corporation, a financing company that helps franchisees buy equipment.

The key to Farid's success, he says, has come from paying attention to often overlooked details such as the website, order tracking and follow-up customer service, the logo and branding, and employee training.

The economy may need more entrepreneurs like Farid - according to the International Franchise Association, every $1 million lent to franchise small businesses creates 34 jobs and $3.6 million in annual economic output, cited Reuters.

Here is Farid in his own words describing his journey:

I WAS born in Pakistan and came to the United States in 1981, when I was 11. My grandfather owned a farm in Pakistan and we had been fairly well-to-do. We started at the bottom when we came here. My father found a job as a machinist during the day and worked at McDonald’s and Burger King at night.

All five of my siblings pitched in. I delivered newspapers to 300 houses. Instead of putting the paper into the mailbox, I’d deliver it to the door. I got great tips. When I was 13, a flower shop hired me to water the flowers. Soon I was taking care of orders. By 16, I had learned a lot.

One day my father found a flower shop for sale in the paper. The owner wanted $6,000. My dad asked me if I could run the shop, and I said sure. We got a cash advance and a loan from a friend. I thought I’d negotiate, and asked the owner what terms he was offering. He looked at me as if to say, “What can this kid possibly know?”

We opened a week before Easter and earned about $50 a day. I stayed open until 7 p.m., seven days a week, because few other flower shops did. I thought $350 a week was wonderful. Soon, sales doubled, and I was shocked. Five years later, we had three shops and were making close to $1 million a year. I said we needed to make more, about $5,000 a day. My mother asked me if I remembered when I was making $50 a day and she suggested that I relax. I told her that it never really ends, and that I could achieve that goal.

It was a lot of work. I didn’t really have a social life. We stayed open on holidays. On my way to high school, I’d drop off my mother at the shop. She spoke no English, so I told her what to do to supervise the two employees. After school I’d make flower arrangements and deliver them myself until I could hire a driver.

I attended college part-time, but I started weighing the benefit against what I was making. I decided to put off school, and I never finished. I was so young when I started a career that I blindly jumped into it.

Edible Arrangements, which I started in 1999 with my brother, Kamran, goes back to our roots. In Pakistan, my father always brought home tons of fruit for us. When we started the company, we created basic fruit arrangements that included fresh pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe and more, and later added extras like chocolate and cinnamon toppings.

We got 30 orders the first day. We had learned from our flower stores, so this time did everything right. A stranger asked about opening a store, which gave us the idea to franchise them. I knew nothing about the franchise industry, so I contacted an association for the names of experts and found Michael Seid. He gave great advice.

I’ve started several other companies. One is Frutation by Edible Arrangements, which includes salads and fruit drinks. They’re sold in Edible Arrangements stores and stand-alone stores. I also started Netsolace, which provides software for the franchise industry. Another, BerryDirect, offers containers, vases and other products to our Edible Arrangements franchisees and other companies. I just started the Farid Capital Corporation, a financing company that helps franchisees buy equipment.

When I was starting out, I used to give my mother $50 a week. When I wanted to buy a building for our second Edible Arrangements location, I needed $40,000 more than I had. My mother had saved the money I gave her over the years and handed it back to me. She asked only that I do something in her name someday and give her $20,000 for my sister’s wedding.

When my mother passed away in 2000, I started a foundation in her memory. The organization built a hospital in Pakistan for needy people and an Islamic school in the United States.


Published in New York Times as told to Patricia R. Olsen.

Here's a video clip of Edible's media coverage:



Related Links:

Pakistani Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Entrepreneurs Survive Turmoil in Pakistan

Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised

Start-ups Drive a Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan's Multi-billion Dollar IT Industry

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

Pakistan's International Rankings

5 comments:

Mylegacy said...

To succeed in business as an Entrepreneur first you need a serious work ethic, then you need "an idea" - or an established idea, like a "franchise" and lastly you need some capital.

Often an extended family can "sponsor" their most gifted individual by investing in him/her as a group and in return his/her enterprise can hire family members and as the business grows he/she can return dividends on their investments.

THEN - you need one last important ingredient - BAGS AND BAGS OF LUCK.

Personally, I've always told my children you cannot get rich working for someone else - the only way to get rich is to have others working for you.

Jared said...

I love the fruit baskets from edible arrangments. They have made great corporate gifts and won me some great contracts.

Riaz Haq said...

A Pakistani-American businessman Shahid Khan of Illionois is buying the NFL team St. Louis Rams, according to media reports:

Rams owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez have entered into a signed agreement to sell the team to Shahid Khan, multiple NFL sources told the Post-Dispatch late Wednesday night.

Khan, 55, is the president of Flex-N-Gate Corp., an auto-parts manufacturer based in Urbana, Ill. Khan has lived in the Champaign-Urbana area for more than 40 years and is married with two adult children. Khan is a graduate of the School of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois.

According to league sources, Khan will purchase the 60 percent of the team owned by siblings Rosenbloom and Rodriguez, who inherited the franchise from their late mother, Georgia Frontiere, in early 2008. NFL owners must approve the sale.

AAMIR said...

Just weldone Mr. Tariq Farid. Its quite impressive, you know its infact your luck and hard work on right time and in correct direction.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani-#American Entrepreneur Shoukat Dhanani Runs One of #US's Largest Private Businesses #fastfood via @forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/amyfeldman/2016/08/28/entrepreneur-shoukat-dhanani-runs-one-of-americas-largest-private-businesses-very-very-quietly/#12bd2b8d47aa …

Shoukat Dhanani, 60, isn’t the type of entrepreneur who courts publicity, but his company, Dhanani Group, has gotten too big to ignore.

Dhanani Group is the largest franchisee in the Popeyes system, as well as a giant Burger King franchisee, making it the nation’s third-largest restaurant franchisee, with 2015 revenues of $871 million, according to trade publication Franchise Times. But those numbers capture only a piece of the group’s businesses, which include convenience stores and gas delivery, as well as the franchised restaurants. In a recent conversation, Dhanani told me that “if you add everything up, it would be over $2 billion” – an amount that would likely qualify Sugar Land, Tex.-based Dhanani Group for FORBES’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies.

Dhanani’s story is a classic tale of entrepreneurship, and how a hard-working family can build a giant, and highly succcessful, business without venture capital or private equity money. The group today includes 130 convenience stores in the Houston area, 502 Burger Kings and 170 Popeyes. It remains 100% family owned and operated. “We always believed in staying low-key and under the radar,” says Dhanani. “That’s what our dad taught us.”

Dhanani’s father, Hassan Ali Dhanani, who died earlier this year, was a born businessman and the family’s guiding force. Back in Pakistan, Dhanani recalls, his father started working at age 13, rolling cigarettes by hand and packing them for sale. “He could smell the money everywhere,” says Dhanani, who immigrated to the U.S. to attend college. “He saw opportunities and he guided us. He taught us business.”

The business, which dates to 1976, began with convenience stores. Dhanani moved into restaurant franchising in 1994, with Burger King. “In those days, co-branding fast food and convenience stores was just being talked about, and I thought it was a great idea,” Dhanani says. He opened what he believes was the first one. “It was just a corner dedicated to Burger King,” he recalls.

Over the past few years, as restaurant franchisees have gotten bigger and bigger (for our magazine story on America’s largest restaurant franchisee, see here), Dhanani’s operation has grown exponentially. In early-2010, he figures, the group had only 40 Burger Kings, but then they started making acquisitions. “We had a lot of cash. The economy was good. And it was a great time to buy out troubled franchisees,” he says. By 2012, the group had roughly doubled in size.