Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009
Road to Palm Springs
Tradex International, Inc.
Saji Daniel immigrated to the US with his parents at the age of 14 and learned to speak English by watching television. Two years later, he started selling and delivering newspapers for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, winning numerous sales awards. When he wrote an essay describing his ambitions as a student at Cleveland State University, the professor told him his plans were unachievable — a put-down that drove him to succeed.
After college Daniel gained experience in the import/export business by working for a company without pay for 18 months. In 1988, he joined a trucking company owned by his mother-in-law, working his way through the ranks. Then, in response to the growing AIDs epidemic, he borrowed money and used credit cards to found Tradex International, Inc., a provider of latex gloves. But by the time the first shipment of gloves arrived from India, the market was saturated. Daniel persevered by working a second job while selling gloves to doctors and dentists from his station wagon after hours.
A breakthrough came in 1995 when Daniel shifted his focus to food service, a decision that quickly paid dividends as restaurant chains adopted the use of disposable gloves in food preparation. Today, the company is a leading distributor of disposable gloves for food service, janitorial, medical and light industrial markets and one of the nation’s fastest-growing privately owned businesses.