Dariush and Jamshid Soofer were born in Tehran, Iran, along with their two brothers. When each child turned 18, they began working at their father’s pharmaceutical and scientific equipment company. There they learned important values they continue to practice to this day – “the meaning of hard work, the value of education, and the importance of being honest and keeping your word,” says Dariush.
“He used to say, ‘Your biggest asset is not the money you have in the bank, it’s your knowledge and honesty.’”
The siblings took those lessons, and their memories, with them to America after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Looking for a better, safer and freer life in the U.S., Dariush and Jamshid began to build and grow the company they run today.
Since 1982, Soofer Co. Inc. (also known as Sadaf Foods) is an importer, wholesaler and distributor of grocery food products selling to Middle Eastern and Hispanic grocery stores, as well as such major chain stores as Ralph’s, Target, Food for Less and Cost Plus. Their products include grapeseed oil, olive oil, tea, polished rice, spices and seasonings, canned foods and other related items from the Middle East and the Mediterranean region, including Italy, Israel, Bulgaria, Turkey and Egypt.
“When many of us settled here, we were homesick and longed for the comforting smells and tastes of home cooking,” Dariush explains. But in the 1980s, fenugreek and sumac were not staples in a typical American pantry. “We saw the opportunity to introduce a line of Middle Eastern spices that we knew Iranian immigrants would cherish.” So we decided to pack and distribute all the spices and staples needed to re-create a little piece of home in everyone’s kitchen.”
“We feel a very personal connection with IDB. We know we can always count on them to help us whenever we need it. And with their understanding of the food market, they’ve been not only financial advisors but also mentors. With such a trusting relationship, IDB is a huge part of our success.”
As new immigrants, however, the Soofers were unfamiliar with how American businesses functioned and how to penetrate American markets. It was also difficult finding sources for Middle Eastern spices. “We had always heard that America is the land of opportunity, so we never gave up, even during difficult times.”
The one thing they were certain of: the importance of quality. “We realized that our family and children would be using these products, and we wanted to give our customers the same high quality,” says Jamshid. “This helped us reach our goals and ensure our success.”
Today, their spouses and children are part of the company, and they are joined by a team of dedicated professionals – 130 employees in total – who are “upholding the values our father taught us, which have made the Sadaf brand recognized in the U.S. and in Canada,” Dariush says.
“Our family values became our company values,” Jamshid explains. “And our employees are like family, many with us for more than 30 years. They are our greatest asset and our biggest supporters. And through good times and the hard times, we have stood together to build our business into what it is today.”
Along the way, of course, they needed financial support to fuel growth and overcome challenges. That’s where IDB came in. “The bank has been our support system by advising us when times are tough and helping us with lines of credit to push us toward success,” Dariush explains. When we needed more office space, new machinery and trucks, the bank helped us take necessary risks to successfully grow our brand. Without their advice and financial help, we wouldn’t have been able to grow as seamlessly as we have.”
Having started with three people and 17 products, Dariush and Jamshid Soofer can rest assured, their father would be proud to see what they have accomplished.