Young CEO finds importance in Hockey

Tate Harris
By Tate Harris February 16, 2018 12:51

Ameen Fadel using a hockey stick to hold the fattoush dressing his company sells. (Photo by Tate Harris)

By Tate Harris

A young CEO is seeing the importance of hockey in his life while trying to balance his business and the sport.

Ameen Fadel is 18 and started his own company, Cedar Valley Selections, when he was 16 after he heard about a $3,000 grant from a government program for young entrepreneurs. Fadel grew up with two childhood dreams — playing in the NHL or entrepreneurship. His company’s success shows he may be on the right path for one of those dreams.

“What hockey player doesn’t grow up wanting to play in the NHL? Around [age] 14 or 15 I knew I wasn’t [going to make the NHL],” said Fadel. “You know when you’re not going to make it. But I always knew when I was young I wanted to start my own business. Once I figured out [ I wasn’t] going to the NHL, I pursued my business aspirations.”

According to Hockey Canada there is a less than one per cent chance to make the NHL. Although Fadel will not be playing professionally, he is currently playing Junior ‘C’ hockey for the Lakeshore Canadiens. Fadel’s mother and business partner, Surria Fadel, said they would not be where they are today without hockey.

“We’re not from Windsor, we’re from London,” said Surria. “Moving to Windsor and him growing up here, we had no other family. So, it was really great having the hockey family.”
The hockey family also helped create the idea for Cedar Valley Selections. Surria said at every hockey party they were asked to bring fattoush salad or a hummus and Fadel thought it would be a great idea to try to bottle the fattoush dressing. When Fadel was coming up with a business idea, he remembered the great response to his mother’s fattoush.

Fadel said the seriousness of a business meeting is a lot different from the loose and joking atmosphere of a locker-room, but does find similarities between the two worlds.

“They are both sort of the same in terms of work ethic,” said Fadel. “Both require a lot of hard work and you have to put a lot of hours to be successful.”

Between hockey and his business, Fadel also attends the University of Windsor for business administration. He said it can be tough balancing everything, but has had great support from the Canadiens staff and General Manager Mark Seguin. The Canadiens’ first playoff game on Feb. 6 showed Fadel’s latest balancing act.

“Last Tuesday he had to go to Toronto to market to a store that’s interested in carrying the product,” said Surria. “[It was a] Long day. He got up early to get there early and do his research, met with the store owners, had a successful meeting and drove home. Didn’t even make it back in time to come home and get his stuff for the game. I had to deliver his stuff to the arena. So he got dropped off right at the arena and had one of his best games.”

Fadel had two points –a goal and an assist– in that game.

Fadel is also finding success off the ice, though Forbes states 90 per cent of startups fail. Currently Cedar Valley products are in 16 local stores, two stores in London and have also sold online. Cedar Valley Selections will have their product in their first big box store Feb. 17 at Sobeys in Lakeshore. Fadel said they are looking to continue to grow outside of southwestern Ontario.

 

Cedar Valley Selections’ pita chips. (Photo by Tate Harris)

“There’s actually a chain in Toronto and they’re really interested in the product and we will be in there really soon,” Fadel said. “They have six locations and are very prestigious chain.”
Canadiens Sports Marketing Coordinator, Ryan Dupuis, said Fadel’s business achievements are helping with his teammates’ developments.
“Junior hockey is all about player development both on and off the ice,” said Dupuis. “Ameen’s success and drive off the ice reflects onto his teammates and definitely has a profound impact on their perception of their ability to achieve their own life goals.”

Cedar Valley Selections recently opened a storefront at 25 Amy Croft Dr. in Lakeshore. It can be a stop for Windsorites on their way to the Atlas Tube Centre, where the Canadiens play.
Fadel is eligible to play three more years of junior hockey. As long as his business allows it, he hopes hockey continues to be a part of his life.

“I would love to obviously continue to play hockey,” said Fadel. “Why would I want to stop? If the business takes over and if it becomes as successful as I want it to be, then I might have to stop playing, but I would love to continue.”

Tate Harris
By Tate Harris February 16, 2018 12:51

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