CRAFTING A LEGACY AS A REVOLUTIONARY BRAND – ACACIA FABRICS SRI LANKA – SHAKEEL YOONUS AND SAMEER YOONUS

Acacia Fabrics is a prominent distributor of superior European fabrics in Southeast Asia. The company has evolved to be a recognized household fabric brand name through the years. Shakeel Yoonus and Sameer Yoonus, the Managing Directors of Acacia Fabrics Sri Lanka, are an extraordinary team dedicated to their renowned family business. 

To begin their fascinating adventure, the brothers spent their early years at Belvoir College International, where they learned a great deal about the world around them. However, Shakeel decided to drop out of high school in the middle of his senior year since his father used a wheelchair owing to Muscular Dystrophy, a long-term ailment that rendered him unable to walk. His father encouraged him to join their company which indented fresh textile fabrics from China, Pakistan and India and stock-lot textile fabrics from Singapore and Indonesia to Sri Lankan importers. Because his father could not handle certain situations, he pleaded with his beloved son that he could require assistance with the business. As a result, Shakeel joined him shortly after completing his Advanced levels.

When asked about the benefits and drawbacks of having his brother as a business partner, Shakeel says the significant advantage is that he’s a family member, so they don’t have to keep any secrets and can communicate all of their tactics freely without hesitation. He also notes that in an emergency, they can ask each other to fulfil their obligations and that they both understand the more excellent picture of leaving a legacy so that they can reach the goals they set for themselves. Shakeel also claims that his brother is a natural salesperson. He is inspired by the way he speaks to clients, and he has learned a lot from him and continues to learn from him. Sameer also has complete faith in Shakeel, knowing that his elder brother’s decision will benefit the company.

The slight disadvantage is that Sameer has a generous heart, which some people exploit. Being nice isn’t a crime, but some clients take advantage of his good nature, which is unhealthy in a business setting. As a result, Shakeel needs to remind Sameer to take a balanced stance in each case. Furthermore, he makes fast decisions, so Shakeel must sometimes calm him down and explain the long-term consequences. Finally, he ends his statement with a quote by Imran Khan, “Compromise for your dreams but never compromise on your dreams.”

When speaking with Sameer, he emphasizes that his older brother Shakeel is powerful with statistics, which is one of the reasons he was able to work quickly and gain the trust of suppliers and consumers. He was able to expand rapidly due to this, and they still rely on him for numbers today. So, whereas Shakeel excels at math, Sameer is known for his ability to communicate. This is an essential aspect of their partnership and all they do.

Sameer aspired to be an event host when he was younger. For context, he liked to be the guy behind the microphone at school activities and programs. He was fond of this because both he and his brother had been avid cricket fans since they were little. As a result, they listened to many radios commentary, and Sameer, in particular, was enthralled by the concept. 

Following his senior year of high school, Sameer knew he wanted to pursue a vocation that would allow him to use his ability to communicate. As a result, he considered marketing and advertising agency jobs. He had no expectations to join Shakeel in the Pettah business, so this feature offered him the flexibility to accomplish what he wanted with his life, but only with great care and attention. He says that he planned to enrol in a university in Malaysia for his higher studies soon after completing his advanced levels. Still, his mother wasn’t keen on it because of his father’s condition, and it was more vital to remain around and take care of him.

Sameer’s first job was at zMessenger, where he had to visit various colleges and academies to persuade them to enrol students in month-long soft skills courses. However, he wasn’t quite content with this job, so his boss convinced him to apply for Capital Maharaja for MTV News First, considering he was very fond of commentary. He highlights being the youngest at MTV at the time to read for primetime news. Sameer had envisioned this role as his long-term profession at this point, but he quickly understood that his employment wouldn’t let him construct a house in this nation and that success in the media industry would take him a long time. A year later, their father suffered a severe injury, prompting Sameer to become a partner in the family business. Under his older brother’s guidance, he began to grasp what a different ballgame handling business in Pettah was a few months into his employment. 

The main benefit of having his brother as a business partner, according to Sameer, is that they are both on the same page with their goals and how they want to reach them. He went on to say that understanding each other’s priorities, commitments, and thought processes aid them in developing effective strategies and, ultimately, in making decisions. In addition, both brothers gain from complementing one other’s areas of strength, knowing that there is no fear of professional rivalry or jealously. 

Shakeel, older and more experienced in business than Sameer, keeps him in check by continually seeking his financial advice. As a result, he may be confident that he wants and understands what is best for him, his family, and the company. The only disadvantage Sameer can see is that it has made him overly dependent on him, as he has found himself unable to make critical decisions without his input at times. While it’s nice to have someone watching over your shoulder all of the time, it’s also necessary to have some autonomy.

Shakeel is a very aggressive businessman, whereas Sameer is more of a PR guy who loves to develop a really pleasant relationship with their clients, so when it’s time to get stern with some of them, he has to walk a narrow line between not being overly friendly and being extremely professional. Even while it makes Sameer uneasy, it might be a beneficial thing in the end. He ends his statement, “So often people overestimate themselves, misapply their gifts. Wisdom is learning the boundaries of one’s designated lane. – Raymond Reddington, The Blacklist.”

When asked about the characteristics they learned from their father during his time in the business, Sameer said that humility was one of the most important values he learned. He instructed him and his brother to show equal respect and dignity to the world’s richest person and the garbage collector on the street. From a business standpoint, they learned that no opportunity should be passed until every alternative has been considered and every path has been investigated. Similarly, Shakeel recalls his father telling him that he must never forget that he is on his own in the business world. To take care of himself and his business to the best of his ability and never expect others to share his viewpoint. He was also taught to treat everyone with respect and, if he could, to spend lavishly on his family and loved ones. He encouraged Shakeel to adapt his lifestyle if he was going through a difficult time, not to buy anything on credit under any circumstances, and never to delay paying his bills.

Sameer and Shakeel said they aspire for Acacia to be a prestigious household name in the furnishings business when asked about their ambitions for the brand’s future. It should be a source of pride and honour to have an Acacia product in one’s house. They want to become Sri Lanka’s most favoured provider of high-end furnishing fabrics, with a reputation for outstanding customer service. They hope to shift people’s thoughts about luxury furnishing materials and convince them that they significantly impact their homes.

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