The story has all the trappings of an emphatic American success. A Pakistani native joins his family in the United States, lavishes attention on bringing a product to market and develops a company whose more than 1,100 franchises in 14 countries now literally span the globe.
In this case, the man is Tariq Farid, the seminal product is the fresh fruit bouquet and the company is Edible Arrangments International LLC. Its corporate offices, which came to Wallingford in 2007, are on Barnes Road in an industrial area near Interstate 91.
“Wallingford made natural sense,” said Farid, founder and CEO of the company, on Friday. “I’ve always lived in this area.”
The company had looked for a location on the west side of Cheshire and also Milford before deciding on Wallingford. It was important to locate near a major corridor, he said. “We travel a lot from Bradley Airport," he aid, adding that he knew about Barnes Road and the industrial area. And, then, he said, “We just fell in love with the building.”
The building—a compact swirl of brick with the Edible Arrangements logo—is a far cry from the flower shop in East Haven Farid started when he was in his teens.
“I started a flower shop when I was 17,” he said, acknowledging that at the time the concept of fruit bouquets was not new, but was still largely the province of catering groups and the like. “Being in the floral industry, we went after it as a retail business.”
Farid said one of the problems in launching the business was that banks said the concept wouldn’t work—they didn’t understand why people would send fresh fruit bouquets.
“We sent them to some of our customers,” he said. “It was a great hit.”
Key to the company's success was software that Farid, who said he always had a passion for computers, developed years ago for data collection and management for floral shops. From 1990 to 1997, he said he drove from Maine to Washington, D.C., setting up the system in floral shops.
“We, as a small flower shop, couldn’t afford it,” he said of the technology that was just emerging back in 1988. "We bought a small computer," and an expertise in technology “just evolved,” he said. The first Edible Arrangements opened in Hamden in 1999.
This summer, Edible Arrangements' sister company, Netsolace Inc., launched two apps that Farid termed “a natural transition. We’re very mobile now . . . . The franchisees need to be able to do a lot of things from the road.”
In North Haven, the company also opened a Berry Direct, which, as a location for branded packaging and other products, such as dried fruit, is expected to cut costs and delivery times for Edible Arrangements’ franchisees from an East Coast base. Farid said he expects the North Haven Berry Direct to have a full inventory by the end of the year.
But what comes through most clearly in a conversation with him is his love for this part of Connecticut.
“In all honesty, you kind of fall in love with the area. Everything else looks strange,” he said. “We started in East Haven, Connecticut ... I always felt that our roots are here. This is where we landed when my parents moved to the United States. We don’t know of anything else.”