With over 27 years of investment experience, Merchant Investments has been established in the Des Moines and central Iowa area as a trusted investment partner. And it all began with our founder, visionary, and namesake, Shahbaz Ahmed Merchant, who has sought to provide opportunities and investments that support community growth and development.

Our Investment Partners

We’ve worked with numerous organizations in the real estate and restaurant industry and have partnered in numerous other investments, and we’re continually adding to our portfolio. 

Investments we own include:

National Investments Consolidated Enterprises

Our Team

S. Ahmed Merchant


Kashaan S. Merchant


Bryan Malovrh

Vice President of Operations

Lori Greenough


Our History

  • 1972: After completing high school, Shahbaz Ahmed Merchant moved to the United States from Pakistan.
  • Ahmed pursued his education in Business and Mortgage Banking at Miami Dade Community College and Barry University in Florida.
  • As a college student, Ahmed worked part time for Wometco Enterprises, which eventually owned cable and TV stations along with the largest chain of movie theaters in South Florida.
  • Ahmed became Director of Marketing, Advertising, and Concessions for Wometco.
  • After Wometco was sold, Ahmed was tapped by the Ronald Reagan, and later George H.W. Bush administration to serve as District Office Manager of the U.S. Department of Commerce, a position he held until 1989. 
  • 1990: Ahmed met Jim Liautaud, whose son Jimmy John was developing a concept for a new restaurant chain. Merchant invested in the project, and the first Jimmy John’s restaurant opened in 1983.
  • March 1991: Ahmed became President and CEO of Jimmy John’s, Inc.
  • 1995: Ahmed establishes Merchant Investments, with the goal of investing in his community and supporting local initiatives. Merchant Investments was established in Ames, Iowa and began opening Jimmy John’s franchises throughout the Midwest.
  • 2006: Merchant Investments officially relocated to Des Moines.
  • 2016: Established National Investment Consolidated Enterprises to manage property portfolio.
  • 2017: Ahmed’s son Kashaan Merchant joined company’s Operations.
  • 2019: Kashaan expands NICE into commercial real estate outside of Iowa, and pivots Iowa’s property portfolio from residential to commercial.
  • 2021: Creation of venture funding structure for diversified growth
  • 2022: Kashaan leads Merchant Investments’ partnership into De Novo company in the acquisition of a bank, becoming a founding member of Twin Cedars Bank, becoming its Secretary, Treasurer, and Board Member.
  • 2023: Establishment of Starlight Search Capital, a venture capital subsidiary of Merchant Investments. Starlight Search launches with investment partnerships in La Plata Capital and Lola’s Fine Hot Sauce.