Saleem Abdul Cader: A Legacy of Generosity, Kindness and Wisdom
Many of us in the pulse industry have been blessed to meet or know Saleem Abdul Cader and remember him for his kind spirt, generosity and the major role he played in shaping the future of the Sri Lankan pulse sector. Simply put, Sri Lanka and the pulse industry have lost an icon, and a family has said goodbye much too early to a father, brother and wise leader.
It would be an understatement to say that Saleem, Mahmud and the Cader family made a big impact in the global pulse industry. They are the perfect example of what is possible when your dreams have no limits. The Cader family built Pulses Splitting & Processing Industries (PSPI Pvt.) literally from the ground up and made it the largest pulse company in Sri Lanka and one of the most important in South Asia.
PSPI has won several awards, including a Presidential Award and a Gold Award for Best exporter from the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka. Yet, despite the awards and the strong record of business success, Saleem, Mahmud and the Cader family have never been the type to seek credit or words of praise; instead, they have steadfastly remained humble, generous and kind.
Below are a few reflections from industry leaders on Saleem Abdul Cader and the Cader family’s many contributions to the global pulse industry and the country of Sri Lanka.
Sudhakar Tomar, President of India Middle East Agro Trade Industry & Investment Forum (IMEA-TIIF) and Ex-Chairman & Managing Director of Hakan Agro DMCC:
“My first meeting with Saleem and Mahmud took place in their compact but buzzing office way back in 1995 in Dubai. It was orchestrated by their younger brother, the flamboyant Razak, whom I knew from my days in Mersin, Turkey. Razak and I quickly became friends, and the bond extended to his two brothers. Shortly thereafter I had the privilege of meeting their warm and hospitable family in Sri Lanka. A deep personal and business relationship ensued that lasted for more than 26 years, spanning three generations. Mahmud’s father, the late and noble soul, Haji Abdul Cader, became a great mentor to all of us. He taught us the value of family honor and sticking together. He always insisted that we eat lunch together in the office whenever I was in Sri Lanka. Papaya, his favorite, was always served as dessert.
When Mahmud proposed setting up a pulses processing plant in Sri Lanka, I was skeptical considering India’s proximity and Turkey’s being an aggressive exporter of lentils to Sri Lanka. But as they say, the rest is history. The venture that the Cader family established, under the visionary leadership of Mahmud and with the support of Saleem and Razak, went on to become the largest processing plant in Sri Lanka, with more than a 50% market share, contributing significantly to the global pulse industry and Sri Lanka’s food, protein and nutrition security.
With the tragic passing of Razak last summer and now the untimely departure of Saleem and their loving mother the following day, I am left poorer by the loss of these great friends. While it is heart wrenching, I take comfort in the eternal truth that we will all run out of time one day, but what is important is how we are remembered by those whose paths we crossed. I am sure the fond memory of Saleem and Razak will live with us forever and will always bring out the best in us.”
Huseyin Arslan, past GPC President and Chairman of AGT Foods:
“The Cader family is one of the most influential families in the lentil market. They accomplished this with sweat and tears over the past several decades. During my presidency of the GPC they were always there to help the industry. The 2018 Colombo convention was a complete success thanks to their work and dedication. Colombo was the first and thus far only convention attended by the President, Prime Minister and other Ministers of the hosting country. Mahmoud and Saleem did more than what they promised.”
Farhan Adam, Chief Executive Officer of Marina Commodities
“Pulses Splitting (PSPI) is not just a company, it’s a family for us. Their whole family has always treated my family like their own. We have known them since 2001. It sure is a difficult time for Mahmud and his family and we stand beside him in this irreparable loss.
Saleem was the first person I met with this wonderful group when he lived in Dubai. I still remember him making me change my honeymoon trip from Europe to come and attend his first daughter’s wedding in Colombo, which was happening at the same time. And I still remember telling him that I am flying in the morning, and he said, “Yes, you will fly to Colombo and nowhere else.” I didn’t have the words to say no to him and that is how convincing he was.
There are many more stories that will now be my wonderful memories from my times spent with Saleem and the whole Cader family. He was one of the most kind and genuine human beings and would always go out of his way for anyone, especially his loved ones. He was a true friend and a brother.”
Cindy Brown, GPC President and CEO of Chippewa Valley Bean
“We were all so deeply saddened by the passing of such a visionary Chairman and industry leader – Saleem Abdul Cader. We shall always be grateful to Saleem and the Cader family for the joy they brought to industry members like myself who visited Sri Lanka for the 2018 GPC conference in Colombo.”
Quinton Stewart, Viterra Canada
“My earliest memories in the pulse industry involve the PSPI family and the friendliness and grace with which they approached the business and the people within it. Those memories will stay with me forever. Mr. Saleem always came across as a gentle soul, someone who exudes wisdom and a kind heart.
Mahmud, whom I refer to as the ‘Godfather of lentils’, has provided not only myself, but so many people young and old in the pulse industry with guidance and sincerity at every level of the spectrum of what we consider to be the global trade. This was also true of his brothers and has clearly been passed down to the next generation of the business, who I have no doubt will carry this tradition and approach moving forward.
In an industry and life where there are oh so many challenges and obstacles to overcome, the PSPI family is a beacon of hope, integrity and genuine happiness. It is up to all of us to strive to reach the same heights and accomplishments. One can only hope to have as big of an impact both personally and professionally as the PSPI family has had on the global pulse industry.”
Vijay Iyengar, Chairman and Managing Director, Agrocorp:
“Mr. Saleem Abdul Cader and his family have been pioneering figures in the pulse industry in Sri Lanka and globally. They were very gracious hosts to all of us at the GPC convention in Colombo, where the Colombo declaration was adopted. And they have been extremely supportive of GPC activities over the years. Industry participants in Canada, Australia and India, as well as in other places, owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Saleem, Mr. Mahmud and the other members of the family for their contributions to the global pulse industry.”
Brett Dodson, Manager-Pulses, Australian Grain Export Pty Ltd.:
“I was devastated to hear the sad news of Saleem’s sudden and unexpected passing. And then, to make a traumatic time even more devastating, to learn of the passing of their mother within a 24-hour period. It is times like these that make you reflect more closely on life and makes you think of those things that are important – family and friends. These are the major pillars that make up the Cader family and their success.
Anyone who has come across the Cader family either in business or through their personal life would know what I mean when I say they are truly a ‘remarkable family’. From building many highly successful businesses, such as PSPI, which is an inspirational story in itself; to build something from nothing to where it is today is a true testament to the family’s hard work and dedication. And also to how they conduct themselves in their personal lives.
One of the first things that strikes you when you meet this family is their kindness, humility and generosity. I still recall travelling to Sri Lanka for the first time and getting picked up from the airport by Mahmud personally, and then being ushered to the hotel. Absolutely everything for the trip was organized. I was unable to pay for a single thing. Mahmud and his family would say, “You are in our country and it’s our honor and pleasure.” Their hospitality, which has always continued, just blew me away and is something that will stick with me forever. Many people may not know it, but they have given back so much to those less fortunate than themselves.
I have been blessed to get to know this family over an extended period of time, as they have mine. I have learnt so much from them not only from a business sense, but more so about life lessons. Such as “your word is your bond”, in how to conduct yourself in times of adversity, how your moral ethics are so important, and to never forget where you have come from. They have had so much tragedy over the past several years with the sudden passing of the charismatic Razak, now the ‘Chairman’ Saleem and then their loving mother. Saleem’s extensive knowledge of the factory and understanding of the splitting industry and his deep distinct voice will be missed, leaving a long-lasting impression and legacy. This transpires through the whole family with their kindness, generosity, sincerity, courage and faith, which is truly inspiring. The brother’s legacy and beliefs will continue on strongly, as the next generation is already heavily involved in the business, which is in good hands under Mahmud’s strong leadership, guidance and calm demeanor.”
“Saleem was a loyal and strong contributing member of Pulse Australia for many years, always conducting his business with a high level of professionalism and engaging well with the Australian pulse industry. The pulse family locally and globally will sadly miss this industry leader.”
Rajendren, Chairman, Gnanam Imports:
“Mr. Saleem was a joyful person and had a good sense of humor. His passion for cricket was never-ending. I had the privilege of enjoying Mr. Saleem’s company during some of our dinners together at GPC conventions. Although my interactions with Mr. Saleem are limited, I was fortunate enough to have shared a large part of my life with his farther Mr. Abdul Cader and his brother Mehmood.
Saleem’s father, the late Mr. Abdul Cader, was a pioneer and a larger-than-life figure in the pulses industry. Words cannot express my gratitude for everything he has done for me. Mr. Abdul Cader was hugely influential in shaping my view on life, my work ethic and many other things.
I have never met someone as equally impressive, humble and pure at heart as Mr. Abdul Cader. He had an endearing personality and always had the time to help everyone around him to be a better person. In 1987, when I was a young man aspiring to become a businessman with nothing but hope and the motivation to work, Mr. Abdul Cader took me under his wing and taught me everything I needed to learn to succeed in the pulses trade.
His sons, Saleem, Razak and Mehmood, have carried on in the footsteps of their father in conducting themselves and in governing PSPI.”
Sunil Patwari, Managing Director, Seasons Overseas Pvt.:
“I have known Saleem Bhai for the last 20 years when he was in Dubai. He was always a very helpful, humble, sincere and nice person. The Cader family brought Sri Lanka into the market for large imports of lentils by establishing modern processing plants. Sri Lanka became an active importer and player just because of Mahmud Bhai & Family, bringing lots of employment to Sri Lanka. Mahmud Bhai has always kindly contributed his experience and expertise to the GPC Executive Committee. When we think of Colombo/ Sri Lanka, Mahmud and the Cader family are always on our minds and close to our hearts.”
Andac Kolukisa, Managing Director, Natural Gida:
“Saleem Bei was a very remarkable man and everyone in the pulse industry is better for having known him. He will be greatly missed. He is in our thoughts and prayers.”
Peter Wilson, Chairman, Wilson International Trading
“I’ve always found the Cader family to be generous with their time and genuine in their interest in others. These great personal strengths have delivered to their business a reputation of great integrity. An honor we all aspire to.”
As we remember Saleem Abdul Cader, let us also strive to honor and live up to his legacy of enthusiasm for pulses, his humble spirit, his honestly, his generosity and genuine kindness towards others.
Saleem Abdul Cader / Sudhakar Tomar / Huseyin Arslan / Farhan Adam / Cindy Brown / Quinton Stewart / Vijay Iyengar / Brett Dodson / Pulse Australia / Rajendren / Sunil Patwari / Andac Kolukisa / Peter Wilson