They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Well, what if that apple lands in a pile of delicious Fattoush dressing?
And what if someone then jumped rope over the mess that was made?
Clumsy metaphors aside, the Fadels are a family of health-conscious entrepreneurs responsible for Cedar Valley Selections, a local food processor dedicated to providing customers with healthy and delicious foods. The store was founded by Ameen Fadel, a 22-year-old graduate of the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business, when he was still in high school.
Ameen chose to embark on this entrepreneurial venture with the strongest, most determined woman he could find: his Mother, Surria Fadel.
“When Ameen was in the spring semester of Grade 10, he heard an announcement at school about an opportunity awarding 30 students in the city $3,000 to start a small business,” Surria Fadel explains. “So he came home and wracked his brain about what kind of business he could start.”
That opportunity was the Summer Company program, offered through the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre, that provides entrepreneurial training, mentorship and grants, to students to help them start a business.
The seed of inspiration had been planted in Ameen’s brain years prior. An avid hockey player in his youth, Surria used to bring her homemade Fattoush dressing to his games. Eventually, one of Ameen’s old teammates suggested the obvious.
“Why don’t you bottle and sell it?”
After remembering that conversation, the seed of inspiration sprouted and bloomed into what would eventually become Cedar Valley Selections.
“We decided to take a shot at it and see where it went,” Surria states. “We sold the Fattoush dressing to Belle River High School teachers. I was working at GoodLife at the time, so I sold it to my clients as well. We attended the Downtown Windsor Farmer’s Market in 2017. The first day was crazy. Everyone was going nuts about the Fattoush dressing. People were like, ‘Wow! Someone’s finally doing this. I’ve been looking for a Fattoush dressing everywhere!’ Everyone went bananas about how healthy it was, too. There’s not one bad ingredient in there.”
In 2018, Cedar Valley Selections was one of four local startups selected as part of the second cohort of WETechAlliance’s ScaleUP Tech Accelerator program. Ameen credits WEtech, and the award-winning ScaleUP program, with helping them expand into new retailers and additional markets, develop new products, and leverage technology to automate and streamline their processes.
Now, Cedar Valley Selections has continued to expand. Their catalogue has grown to include several more dressings and marinades, including homemade pita chips. In 2018, their products were picked up by the Lakeshore Sobeys. By 2020, they were in 45 stores. Now, their delicious dressings and pita chips are featured in over a thousand stores across Canada.
“It’s been kind of crazy,” Surria states, putting it mildly.
Surria talked in-depth about just how crazy the ride has been, as well as the support they’ve received along the way from Small Business Centre, EPICentre, WEtech and others, in a fireside chat held during the recent Founders Week YQG.