The Tale of PATELs...A Biased Story

Dr. Rakesh Shah 
As many of you know, PATEL is one of the most successful NRI community, not only in USA, but worldwide. This post is dedicated to all the PATELS, which includes my wife, my sons (they are 50% PATEL ) and In-laws too - no wonder its going to be a biased post - praising PATELS... Its based on my own experience and observation of PATELS in USA - yours may be different.

And as usual, this post will show my clear bias FOR America. Its very easy to get impressed by the rich life style of many of the Patels here in USA, but one needs to get to the root of what got them there.

This post is mainly focused on First Generation PATELS i.e. the ones who immigrated from India, not the ones who were born here (although, same character traits apply to them also). 

I am going to coin a new term for them - IMPATEL (short form for immigrated Patel), but you can also read it as I M (I am ) Patel. 

You can broadly divide IMPATELs into 3 categories:

1. Totally Business Oriented
2. Totally Job Oriented (hard to find...)
3. Professionals

Its not that common to see IMPATEL in Category 3. Lots of patels Second Generation onwards, many of IMPATELs who came as a child and some IMPATEL professionals mainly doctors and engineers are in this category. 

Even though, almost all of them start their career working for someone else (Job) - unless they join the business already established by their family - more than 60% IMPATELs are business oriented.

Some do stick to jobs for rest of their life, but majority make transition to business in matter of few years - my observation is, in 3-5 years. 

I will be talking about the IMPATELs in category 1.

And the story begins..

The pictures you see here are of the liquor store, run by Kashmira Rakesh Shah's niece Monika Patel and Her husband Chandrakant Patel

Just a clarification - none of us drink alcohol in any form. I don't even know how the beer or whiskey or wine or any other recreational alcohol tastes. I am holding the bottles just for the sake of pictures.

Success takes hard work and in almost all cases, sacrifice from one generation, to make the life or next generation better.

In USA, as we all know, large number of Motels are owned by Patels and some are owned by IMPATELs. 

Other businesses where Patels dominate are - Gas stations, fast food restaurants, Dry cleaners, Indian grocery stores, Indian Restaurants and obviously Liquor stores.

All these business run 7 days a week (may be with some exceptions). Many of them run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

It is NOT easy to keep the store open all the time - it takes man power to run the show. And the most expensive product in USA is - Man power. It costs lots of money to hire someone to run the show. And hiring someone means, a big cut in your profit - the bottom line.

So, what do most IMPATELs do - both husband and wife work... they take turn and keep the store/motel open. Now, take into account, taking care of their kids. They have to figure out innovative ways to take care of kids, while they are away from home for business. And believe me, its not easy to keep up with kids' school, other activities, social commitment while running the show on your own.

Many a times, the family also becomes part of the process - including Parents, grandparents, in-laws, kids... they all are committed to one mission - to make the business work.. and they do..

Hats of to all IMPATELs who are doing that.

Being a Gujarati myself, I can tell you that our ENGLISH is not upto the mark at all. But that does not stop any IMPATEL from being in the forefront to deal with customer directly. We all learn as we go. We are not ashamed of our lack of education or lack of English - we came to this country to make it better for our next generation and we will do whatever it takes - this is the spirit I see in all IMPATELs.

The other factor I see is tightly knit community. I call it " the P factor". One Patel will be willing to help other patel - many a times unconditionally. Most of the time, its a business deal, but still, its a deal where both benefit. 

Families do not hesitate to give "loan" if someone wants to buy a business, because when you are new, it is hard to get loan (since one does not have credit history and money to put as down payment).

The Network effect - 

If a new IMPATEL wants to buy a subway or gas station or any other 'standard" business, it is so easy now a days, to find another "former" IMPATEL, who can guide him instantly. 

On a side note, many of the Gujarati temples are becoming the hub for this type of business transactions and also for job seekers.

There is NO alternative to HARD work. Most Patels have their roots in farming. So, working hard is in their genes ( unlike, SHAHs, like me, where we are not used to physical hard work). I have seen them working hard to make their dream reality.

Domino Effect :

All the Patels know how to move from one business to the next higher level. They know how to graduate from Motel 6 to Marriott. They know how to move from Corner gas station to branded gas station. They all know how to multiply from one business to multiple businesses, once they get a good grip on one business.

America is in their blood :

I am yet to find a Patel who will refuse to come to America if given chance. I am sure there are some, but I just do not know them.'

So, most PATELs in India are "IMPATELs in makeing" - its a matter of time before their IMPATEL status becomes official - one way or the other. 

The fire of making it big in America has been burning inside them long before they landed in America.

In my opinion, it takes almost 10 years of consistent solid hard work for anyone to create the fortune that PATELs are enjoying. 

It does not come easy - it came because one generation sacrificed its precious years to nurture the business that continues to give fruits generations after generations.

Many of these IMPATELs were very wealthy back in India. Even if they stopped working, their 3 generation were taken care of financially in India. They did not have to come to America, but they still did. They all saw something in America through the eyes of other Patels and they were willing to leave all that wealth behind to start all over again from ground Zero.

America is the land of opportunity, its streets are NOT paved with GOLD, they are paved with GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES, for those who want to seize it and work hard to make it work.

IMPATEL designation does not have to be limited to just one community - anyone can do the same and I know many other communities are doing the same. 

I happen to know PATELs closely ( so closely that one of them is my wife...), so I wrote about Patels.

Its all about Human Spirit who is willing to work for his/her dreams to make his/her life and lives of his/her future generations better..

Welcome to the land of IMPATELs...

Welcome to America... By far the best country in the world... in my opinion...
                                                              Dr. Rakesh Shah                       
                                                               Contact:  +1-404-697-5625  

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