Arriving in a new country with $100 in his pocket to start a new life… Raouf knows what that’s like. Fleeing the war in Lebanon, he arrived in Canada in 1976 with only one goal in mind: to start his own business.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
“I come from a country where the entrepreneurial spirit is quite strong,” begins Raouf. Since an early age, he has dreamt of being his own boss. “The desire for independence was in my blood, as my father always worked for a company,” shares the confident entrepreneur. He recounts how, after a heart attack, his father was dismissed from the company where he had worked for 45 years. “He said to me, ’Son, I only have one piece of advice: work for yourself. Because if you succeed, you will own that success - and if you fail, it’s because you didn’t do things properly,” adds Raouf, immersed in his memories. Today, after more than 40 years of masterfully running his business, it is fair to say that Raouf’s father advised him well.
► Interview on CNV Radio Numérique on Tuesday April 19 at 2 p.m.
“It was really the love of the craft that inspired me to open these shops,” admits Raouf, who trained as a prescription optician. Even as a university student, he had a passion for optics and entrepreneurship. “I enjoyed what I was doing, so even before I finished [my studies], I was working in an optical office,” he says. Seeing his passion for the field, the shop owner offered to buy one of his locations. “He helped me set up my first eyewear shop in 1982,” recalls the dedicated entrepreneur. He soon opened a second shop, then a third, until he was running about a dozen at one point. Was it passion or determination? Raouf talks more about the rewards of hard work. “My greatest joy was doing some good for the public and [seeing] how an adjustment or a new frame can make a person happy.”
Among the recurring words in Raouf’s speech are trust, honesty, family, service and quality. For him, “If there is no trust, there is nothing.” Words from a caring man, who is truly devoted to his customers and employees.
What makes your brand stand out?
“The human side is paramount,” says Raouf. Entering his shop is being welcomed like a member of the family and being taken care of from A to Z, according to your needs. “Since the very start, I have focused a lot on quality and service: two words that resonate a lot with me, and that I work to instill in my team,” explains Raouf. He believes quality is priceless, because it equals comfort. “For me, the sale doesn’t end with a pair of glasses. Selling is first and foremost about customer satisfaction and their well-being,” points out the experienced optician.
To stand out, Raouf also relies on the choice of frames, which includes several exclusives and European collections, as well as the wide range of specialized services offered on-site. “We offer a complete service from A to Z, including eye exams, eyewear selection, on-site lab, and we work in collaboration with professionals and ophthalmologists,” he explains.
“As long as I have fun, I’ll be passionate about my work,” sincerely declares Raouf. For him, work is not an obligation, it is a real pleasure, even a game. “What drives me to work is passion and seeing the smile on people’s faces, seeing how happy they are when I serve them.” And Raouf’s happiness at work is contagious: most of his customers have been loyal to him for at least thirty years. “Today, I’m serving the third generation: I served the parents, I saw the children being born, and now I’m serving their children,” he says, humble yet proud.
With great wisdom, Raouf shares some of his best advice. He tells us about his challenges, his successes and his ongoing projects, always with great humility.
What is your best-kept secret?
Raouf is a man of rare generosity, but always humble. He’s not only truly dedicated to his profession, but also to his community. “I am involved in the St. Vincent de Paul parish. If someone needs a pair of glasses but cannot afford it, I can very well give it to them,” says Raouf, who doesn’t hesitate to reach out to those in need. “I don’t do it for the glory, I do it because I can,” he adds. Raouf exudes pure human kindness.
“I’m hoping for continuity and that the world will remember the human side of Raouf Hakim, owner of Lopticien.ca,” says the heart-of-gold entrepreneur. The man who serves his customers as if they were members of his family asks for nothing in return, but a small token of appreciation always warms his heart. “What I like the most is when someone passes by the shopping centre, sees me and comes in [to greet me] ‘Hello Mr. Hakim, how’s it going?' So, if you’re in the area, don’t hesitate to drop by and say hello!