General Merchandise/HBC

Abe Abraham Celebrates 100 Years

Distributor grew up with the convenience-store industry

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Abe Abraham, the chairman of distributor S. Abraham & Sons Inc. celebrated his 100th birthday on Aug. 21, 2012.

Abraham was born in a small village in Lebanon. Like many immigrants, he and his mother crossed the Atlantic in 1921, landing at Ellis Island. His father, Sleyman, had already been in this country for several years, traveling back and forth to his homeland and establishing a home and work in Kansas.

Several years later, the family moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., to be closer to family, where Sleyman established a small retail candy and "five and dime" store. The business developed into a wholesale company, selling to retailers in the city.

At the age of 16, Abe Abraham joined his father in business, and 10 years later, his brothers James and Wade began to work in the family business.

World War II took Abe to India, where he served in a military courier service. In 1947, he met and married Adele Kaleel, from a small Illinois town, Spring Valley. Together they have four children, 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild on the way.

Abe and his brothers built their business on servicing the customer. Today, SAS distributes 12,000 items to 3,600 customers in nine states, from two distribution centers.

Abraham is well known in industry circles for his love of cigars. At age 100, he is still smoking three to four Macanudos a day.

Customer focus has always been a core value of SAS, enabling it to grow and prosper over the last 85 years. Abe's vision and wisdom still continues to be a dominant part of the SAS culture, according to the company.

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