Carrie Rengers

Caterer to sell salad dressings overseas

Sometimes a person's best partner in business can be a friend. That's what Ilham Saad discovered.

Saad, who owns Byblos Restaurant, Catering and Imported Grocery , is going to start selling three salad dressings internationally thanks to her friend Connie Hamilton of Connie's Cookies .

As Have You Heard? reported in June, Hamilton is selling her cookies internationally with the help of Arthur Kerr , chief executive of Kerr Enterprises in New York.

Kerr is in sales, marketing and supply chain management and represents several artisan products, such as gourmet popcorn, internationally in places such as Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Hamilton has been friends with Saad for almost 20 years and remembered Saad first bottling her dressings 15 years ago.

Saad says customers have often asked to buy her dressing.

"Sometimes they bring me their own bottle," she says of requests.

Sales did fine locally, but that was it.

"She just could never go anywhere with it," Hamilton says of bigger plans.

So while Kerr was in Wichita, Hamilton took him to Byblos, which is at 3088 W. 13th St.

"He absolutely loved it," Hamilton says. "We ended up eating there three times, and he was only here for two days."

Now, Kerr has plans to sell Saad's Greek dressing, which will be labeled Mediterranean, her fattoush dressing and garlic dressing.

The dressings are "totally unique from anything I've seen both on the domestic and international market," Kerr says.

Saad has shared her recipes with him. She won't be the one preparing or bottling them.

She says there are plans to market the dressings to national grocery chains in addition to international outlets. So there's a chance they'll one day be on local grocery shelves.

Next year, Saad says Kerr will begin to market her hummus, baba ghanoush and falafel.

Saad has formed Inspiration Food for her new business. It's named after her first name, which means inspiration in Arabic.

Hamilton is excited Kerr likes Saad's dressing.

"I didn't even have to hardly do anything other than introduce (him) to it," she said.

On second thought

It was July when entrepreneur Tom Smith announced he was starting Catalyst Marketing , a call center he opened in the former Poet Ethanol building at 37th North and Webb Road.

At the time, Smith said he hoped he would quickly outgrow the space.

Instead, he's now moved out because it was too much space.

"The cost of keeping the center open at that larger scale wasn't feasible," Smith says. "The business didn't come on as fast and the capitalization of the business ran out, and so I just incorporated Catalyst back into my other two companies for the time being."

Smith has Alltite , a company that sells industrial bolting equipment and services to heavy industrial plants, and MobileCal , a mobile calibration lab he developed to service industrial equipment on site.

He started Catalyst to market those companies and others like them.

"I'm still keeping the business open," Smith says. "I'm just temporarily running it on a smaller scale."

Part of the issue is his other companies, which are at 37th North and Woodlawn, lost some major accounts this fall and he had to scale them back.

"We were expanding in a way to handle a lot more business than we were anticipating," Smith says.

He had a six-month lease but was able to leave.

"We just talked to the people at Poet and cleaned up the building and moved back," Smith says. "It was a really amicable parting of ways."

For Poet's sake, Smith says he hopes the company can find a new tenant. But if that doesn't happen, he'd like to one day be the tenant again.

"I'd like to move back in some day," Smith says. "That would be ideal just because the building fit us so well for what were doing and what we were going to be."

You don't say

"I think stupid is a better term than greed."

BB&T chairman John Allison , speaking at Wichita State University's economic outlook conference Thursday, on the banking crisis