Fadi Ajam is the President and CEO of Xanatos Automotive / Black Horse off Road, a growing automotive aftermarket company, based in New Hyde Park, NY. A seasoned professional with more than 30 years of Managerial experience here in the US and abroad.
Fadi was born in Btteram, Elkoura in 1965. After High school, he left his hometown to pursue University Studies here in the USA. He graduated with post-graduate degrees in Production and Operation management and International Business.
Fadi has a strong knowledge of the socio-economic dynamics in the Middle East and Asia, he maintains strong business and personal contact in both markets. Fadi lives with wife and 3 Children in New York City.
Where did the idea for [insert your idea, company, organization] come from?
I started retail operations in the New York Area by starting an automotive lighting brand called Kasei lights in 1997. This brand established our commitment to quality through our extremely diverse array of headlights, taillights, and fog lights. We found out that there was a need for reliable sources for aftermarket automotive parts. In order to satisfy our customers’ demands as well as stay one step ahead of the competition, we sent a delegation overseas to source out new products. In 2003, Xanatos launched Black Horse Off Road, which quickly became a powerhouse brand manufacturing the highest quality stainless steel and black powder coated truck and SUV accessories. This brand shot to the top of the industry through quality, dependability, competitive pricing, and a lifetime guarantee.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day begins at 6:00 in the morning with a quick jog to get the productive juices flowing, drafting out a plan for the day which consists of team planning, strategy, product and growth.
At our HQ, we start early in the morning. I take the time to visit each department to see what my team is working on and make sure they are working according to plan. These department visits also allow me to address any challenges my personnel is facing; a clear line of communication.
After department visits, I sit down with my executive team and discuss strategy. As you see we start early in the morning, and work until 7 pm. The day consists of multiple meetings and a great deal of communication.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I dedicate a lot of time to product development. How can it be improved? A question answered by soliciting feedback from our clients and working with dedicated product engineers. Key staff members will then brainstorm on market introductions and sales strategies across the globe.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Trucks, SUV’s and Off-Road Parts. Over the past years, my company has grown into a lucrative segment of the automotive aftermarket. I get to develop parts for the hottest trucks trending in the market and enthusiasts which live the Off-Road lifestyle. I also enjoy country living trends and how the Off-Road market coincides with it.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I build the courage to challenge myself continuously to professionally develop my company and team regardless of industry setbacks.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Valet attendant parking cars. I learned that there is only one way to bring a car in, and that’s to a dead end. I never wanted to encounter dead ends in my career or business goals, so I use that experience to remind me that there is always a way to figure out a better path, one that will not lead to an end, but a constant evolution.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Pay more attention to marketing and e-commerce trends when the concepts were still in their infancy.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Work hard, and don’t ever give up.
What is the one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Reach out to advisors within and outside the company, listen to their advice and combine them all into a strategy.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?
Partnering with the with the wrong people. Learned from my mistakes, and began to buy out said partners. Proceeded with caution on future joint ventures.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Start an e-commerce business in an industry you love and are already well versed in their products. Begin by sourcing suppliers, establishing a web presence, and a lot of marketing.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (person or professional)
I just bought a very comfortable pair of shoes to walk around in. These comfortable shoes were used in a recent tradeshow, which involves a lot of walking around to network with suppliers and clients for about 10 hours a day.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
Magento an open-source e-commerce platform and google web services. I love the ease of use, template and design options, as well as the integrations offered to work with google merchant accounts.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Prophet – By Khalil Gebran – Teaches love and compassion, and widens your imagination in all aspects of life.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Various United States presidents who came from nothing or a modest childhood and challenged all odds and made it to the highest office in the land.
Harry S. Truman, Ulysses S. Grant, William Henry Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, James A. Garfield to name a few.