“If they want a milk shake machine, I get it to them by 12 noon the next day,” boasts Iranian-born Michael Hashemian, general manager of CAE Office Supplies, a computer-related products and stationery distributor in Hertfordshire. “Larger companies can’t do that.” Like many small distributors, CAE uses size to its advantage. Founded by Hashemian’s brother Joseph and his wife Martine Mortada, of Lebanese-descent, the family keeps prices down by holding no stock and by pitting multiple suppliers against each other to get the best prices. As the company is still small, it can afford to be at customers’ beck and call. Still, growing quickly from £1.3m in 1994 to £6.1m in 1997 has had its price. This past year, the company outgrew its space. Unable to bring on new salespeople it stopped bringing in new business. Last autumn it moved into larger premises.
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