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Last Update: Thursday October 19, 2017

Key Idea: Diversify Carefully

By hiring, training and coaching talented employees, Ahmad had time to start other ventures.

Key Question:

A: 

New products and services usually come from customer suggestions but in this case, Ahmad spotted talented people who needed an outlet.  What he has done is very tricky and we have never suggested this here at Small Business School. With a company as small as OMNEX, we would not have thought the owner could execute as Ahmad has.

Q: Why is Ahmad able to run his real estate, imaging and magazine businesses without doing harm to OMNEX?

A: He is smart, business-savvy, he gave himself time to solidify OMNEX and he is a strong leader. At each of his companies we found talented people who are able to work with little day-to-day direction. Ahmad sets the agenda and the tone then lets others deploy. However, it took him years to get to this level and he used profits from OMNEX to fund his expansions.

Think about it

What business could you start that would not distract and at the same time help your core business?

Clip from: Omnex Accounting

Dearborn, Michigan: Meet Ahmad Chebbani. He introduces new Arab Americans to the real heart and soul of their new country.   He represents the United States of America to Arab leaders around the world and helps them to see the profound goodness of this country and to dispel the images they learn from Hollywood and Madison Avenue.

Ahmad Chebbani and his wife, Michelle, began their accounting business in 1987. Today, they are the busiest single tax preparation office in the USA.

Meet the people of Omnex Accounting. This team makes filing tax returns for 3,500+ individuals and 600+ businesses look easy.

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Omnex Accounting & Tax Services

Ahmad Chebbani, Founder, Chairman / CEO

12740 W. Warren Ave.
Suite 200
Dearborn, MI 48126

Visit our web site: http://www.omnextax.com/

Business Classification:
Accounting, Information Services,

Year Founded: 1987

Diversify Carefully

HATTIE: This virtual tour of the ancient city of Baalbek was created by Next-Vision, the company Ahmad and his cousin started in 1994. It is based in Beirut with 21 employees and millions in revenues today.

Ahmad: We are an imaging company – we provide imaging services. We do archiving of images, we do 3D rendering services. We take an architectural design, we render it, we create it so an investor or an entrepreneur can see the project before it is built. This is called Baalbek. It is a historical site about 5,000 years old. It is Roman ruins. That was re-constructed by us, by consulting with archeologists and historians basically. And our artists sat down with them and we were able to re-construct the area – how it might have looked when it was originally built. It was very impressive and we built the CD around that so that we can create a virtual tour. Eventually our ultimate goal is to have an individual tour virtually into this old temple that is 5,000 years old.

HATTIE: In 1999, Ahmad started a magazine called Arabica. He was on the right track, hiring talented journalists who created a slick lifestyle publication.

Ahmad: We came up with the magazine to target people who were born here or who had been here a minimum of 7 to 10 years – who were fluent in English and also Americans around the Arab American community who really wanted to learn more. I am also a person who wants others to see how we are as Arab Americans. Because, once people know your culture – where you come from – I think they respect you more. They know you have a past – so you come from someplace.

HATTIE: September 11th changed everything and is proof that smart business owners can't control most outside circumstances. Advertisers fell away and the doors closed on Arabica.

HATTIE: Businessman, husband, father, community leader and New American, Ahmad inspires me. Why do you think immigrants are so successful when they come here?

Ahmad: In the immigrant's mindset – “I have come to a new country, I better have a fresh start. I should do it right this time. If I wasn't successful then, let me try it now.” And being in a country alone – on your own basically – you need to feed and shelter your kids and families. It is a good cause enough to work as hard to prove to yourself that you can support a family and to make a world for yourself. A lot of them have this idea of working hard, a lot of them talk about “party store” (convenience store) owners. Who would want to work 16 hours a day anymore? The only one who can turn this is a new immigrant and this has been proven in the US.

HATTIE: Your parents sent you here. You didn't know English – but you had studied English perhaps in school?

Ahmad: No, I am French educated. I was educated by the Jesuits for 18 to 19 years. And I came here and I had to start over. And that was an experience by itself.

HATTIE: So, you are 19 and your brother is 15 and your family at home expects you to take care of both of you. How did you do it?

Ahmad: It was an exceptional experience. Being in a place, not knowing people – unable to communicate with people. I lived in Chicago, which is a large city basically. Trying to get around was even a story by itself. I had to write notes and directions in my notebook. People were very friendly. It didn't take long basically – maybe 6 months later I was able to communicate and drive a car and move around. There are jobs for non-English speaking people. I did the busboy work for a while. Then I work in service stations. Whatever jobs we could get – I did take. We thought at one point – the only way it had to be done is by being totally independent and doing things our own way. And we did.

HATTIE: So it is like jumping in the ocean and not knowing how to swim.

Ahmad: Exactly. And trying to float – I would say.

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