Junaid Nicholas stared his career in the corporate world, but always had a dream to captain his own ship.
He left his field of expertise in IT to pursue his dream of owning his own business. He spent 12 months researching various industries he could invest in, until he eventually decided to pursue a business venture in the petroleum industry.
After making enquiries with fuel companies about retail opportunities in the sector, he finally received confirmation from Engen that a franchise opportunity had opened up in Wynberg in the Western Cape. That was the birth of Junaid’s dream nearly 10 years ago. Today, Junaid runs two successful businesses.
It was not an easy road to travel. Although Junaid had a clear business plan, he still faced the daunting task of securing capital funding for his business at a time when financial institutions were tightening the screws on funding.
He had to find a finance partner to believe in his dream and afford him the credit facilities to finance his ambition. It was then that he was introduced to Karen Leygonie, Absa’s Solution Specialist for franchising in the Western Cape.
Karen shared Junaid’s passion. She instilled confidence in the client and believed that Junaid’s business would be a success. Understanding Junaid’s quest, Karen was able to submit a strongly motivated application that launched his business, and Junaid became the proud owner of an Engen franchise.
The start-up finance Absa provided saw Junaid’s business prosper. He went on to purchase yet another filling station which he – through diligent management and dedication to service excellence supported by motivated staff – managed to repay within three years.
“Karen Leygonie was instrumental in realising the dream in 2005. Karen understands the clients business and the person she is investing in and marries the two,” says Junaid. His wife, Shamila, a former employee of Absa bank, also joined her husband in the business. She manages all the operational aspects of the business, as well as employee relations and customer services.
Their hard work has paid off. Their service station received the top regional award for Best Dynamic service in 2012 , and in 2014 received an accolade for Best Dynamic Service 2013.
Junaid attributes the business achievements to his wife and employees, who continually strive to deliver exceptional service in a volatile industry. He firmly believes that strong relationships with customers and staff are important because they serve as your brand ambassadors.
The Nicholas’ place the well-being of their staff as priority for business success and thus invest their time in motivating, coaching and mentoring them.
Apart from managing their business, Junaid serves on the board of the Fuel Retailers Association and Shamila is the chairperson of the Community Police Forum in Wynberg. They firmly believe that contributing to communities is a factor to their success.