Mohamad Fakih, CEO/president, Paramount Fine Foods, was this year’s Business person of the year in the Brampton Board of Trade’s (BBOT) 2017 Business Excellence Awards. – Claudio Cugliari/Metroland
Some nine years ago, Mohamad Fakih, CEO/president, Paramount Fine Foods, walked into a decrepit Lebanese restaurant in Mississauga looking to buy baklava (a Middle-Eastern dessert) and a few weeks later ended up becoming its owner.
Paramount Fine Food’s meteoric rise and success with more than 54 locations worldwide, including three in Brampton, has propelled Fakih into the ranks of Canada’s business heavyweights. Brampton also houses the chain’s centralized kitchen.
Fakih, feted by the Brampton Board of Trade (BBOT) as the 2017 Business Person of the Year, on Thursday, April 11, spoke of his serendipitous meeting with the owner of the crumbling eatery to whom he lent money. Some days later, the man called Fakih and asked that he take away all the equipment in lieu of his loan as the business was going belly up.
When he owner told Fakih the loss of business would put a dozen or so immigrants who worked there on the streets, he decided to jump into the deep end of the entrepreneurial pool. “My decision was about the people (who would be out of the jobs) and their families,” said Fakih. “Over the next month or so, I did some research, hired a consultant as I did not understand anything about the food industry. I am not sure I still do …”
A former trained gemologist, Fakih came to Canada 16 years ago, but attributes the success of his operations to his people-centric approach, one that’s driven by empowering employees to buy into his vision and treating them well.
“Anyone that thinks their money is their biggest asset is mistaken,” he said. “I have met a lot of people with lots of money, yet they hired people that had no respect for the job. Here I am, someone who came to Pearson International Airport with literally nothing. I take pride in saying that I cried when I put my sign up on Yonge-Dundas Square because I never imagined that one day I would have a store besides the Mirvish Theatre and across (from the) Eaton Centre.”
BBOT’s annual Business Excellence Awards recognized several corporations — big, small and medium — as well as individuals in different categories.
“This event is special for number of reason,” said Todd Letts, chief executive officer, BBOT. “We do this annually to showcase the amazing entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to growing businesses and our community in Brampton. Few years ago we decided, we would use the example of our business person of the year and unpack what makes them successful and it’s the characteristic of excellence that we’re celebrating here today.”
– Metroland Media