Sam Kandah, President of NationalLink, Inc., had always dreamed of coming to the United States. In 1975, at the age of 18, his parents gave him that opportunity – moving the entire family to Florida from the Palestinian side of Jerusalem.
Sam made the most of this dream come true. Having already learned English, he set out in pursuit of success – graduating from Cleveland State University with a degree in engineering in 1981 and taking his first job in California working in the Aerospace industry. In 1992, he took a position at a start-up that manufactured point-of-sale credit card terminals. The company changed direction but Sam took the knowledge he gained in merchant services to start an Independent Sales Office that focused on credit card processing.
Credit card processing was becoming more and more competitive. In 1996 Sam caught wind of the deregulation of ATM surcharging which opened the ATM space for non-bank placements. He pitched the idea to his partners in the merchant services business but they were skeptical of ATMs. Sam was convinced he could make a success from placing ATMs. “So, I went in alone – making the decision to enter the ATM industry by myself,” said Kandah.
Sam began his ATM empire with a single ATM placement. Today, NationalLink operates over 15,000 ATMs while providing complete ATM solutions to direct clients. In 2012, Sam envisioned a platform that could help other Independent ATM Deployers (IADs) with machine sales, repairs, wireless connectivity and spare parts through a subsidiary called ATMTrader. While ATMTrader provides goods and services for sale, it also provides free listing services where IAD’s connect with one another to buy and sell parts, portfolios and find ATM technicians.
The company has been very successful but Sam is the first to admit the road to success was not easy. “Being at the right place at the right time had a lot to do with it,” said Kandah. “At times, it has been very difficult to operate the company. Financially, we have not used investors, instead we focused on building the business organically.”
Sitting back and relaxing is the last thing on Sam’s mind. He is always looking for ways to improve the business and to provide his customers with better service. When asked if he would do it all over again, he said, “I wish I knew then what I know now, so I could simply do it better.
The U.S. has provided Sam the tools to carve out his own legacy. With his family now deeply rooted here, he hopes that one day he will see his children find their own version of the American Dream.
Help ATMIA celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ATM and the 20th anniversary of the association by sharing your stories. Contact Sharon Lane, ATMIA Global Director of Member Services, at +001-605-271-7371.