Talking with Sam Nubani about how his father, Fouad, started candy wholesaler Nubani Trading Company 26 years ago is a great life lesson in how to succeed in business. “My dad started the company in 1985 with $1,500 and a station wagon,” Nubani says. “He started out small, wholesaling candy, and little by little started adding bigger name companies to his roster, names like Kraft, Hershey, Mars, Cadbury and Adams,” he explains. Fouad Nubani moved up to a van in 1987, and went from keeping his stock in one Public Storage rental space to 15 of the rental units, before finally renting a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Chicago’s famed Water Market area. “He was there for just a few years before he went on to a 28,000-square-foot space, and then to our current 87,000-square-foot warehouse with offices,” Nubani says. “Dad’s been retired now for five years, but still serves in an advisory capacity,” he adds. Sam’s younger brother, Nader, joined the company fresh out of college in 2006.
Apparently, the lessons passed from father to sons have served the company well. “We grew through diversifying,” Nubani says. “Dad started it all and gave us the direction we needed,” he notes, adding, “He built this business on honest values.” Today, Nubani Trading is known as the go-to company for big values on top brand-name candies. “We carry liquidations and closeouts from the biggest candy makers,” Nubani says. “Not everyone can get in to where we are. There are only maybe two or three people nationwide that the famous candy makers will sell their overstock to. We’re one of them.” Nubani Trading continues to do well because they’re restricted as to who they can sell to, and honor the agreements they have with the big manufacturers. “We only sell to independent retailers, no big chains,” Nubani says. Those retailers include mom & pops, convenience and dollar stores, gas stations and small groceries. The company also prides itself on its personal service, a trait that has served them well since the beginning. Nubani tells the story of the time his father rented a U-Haul truck to make a delivery to Cincinnati himself, a seven-hour drive away. The truck broke down halfway there, and Fouad Nubani called for a tow truck and a replacement from U-Haul. “He paid the tow truck driver to help him, and the two of them unloaded the stock from the broken truck into the replacement. Then dad got in and drove the rest of the way to Cincinnati to make the delivery, turned around and drove back home,” Nubani says. “It shows the kind of businessman he is.”
Today, Nubani Trading continues with that tradition of personal service. “We carry hundreds, maybe a thousand different product lines,” Nubani says. “Yet as big as we are, we treat everyone with the respect they deserve. It’s what my dad taught us.” Because of the agreements Nubani has with the major candy suppliers, the company doesn’t advertise its wares on the web. “We’re not allowed to,” Nubani says, “but 99 percent of what we carry are name-brand goods.” Those include bar and packaged candy, as well as cookies, juices and more. “We can’t advertise what we wholesale our candy for,” Nubani says, “but customers just need to call us and we’ll make a fair deal. We sell candy, gum, bulk items for rebagging, lollipops and more,” he adds.
Because of the famous brands it carries, buyers always approach Nubani Trading. “We only take 10 percent of those potential customers who approach us,” Nubani says. “Even then, we keep a close eye on all our customers,” he adds. “We track all the products we sell, and we know who it goes to. It’s a very efficient system.” The lessons of Fouad Nubani can still be felt in the company today. “At his peak, dad did maybe a million dollars’ worth of business in a year,” Nubani says. “Yet in 2007, we did over $4 million in business, in 2008 we did $6 million, in 2009, $10 million, and in 2010, Nubani Trading Company did $15 million in business. I’d say dad taught us pretty well.”
Nubani Trading Co.
2850 Oak Street, Building A
Bellwood, IL 60104