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Bipin Patel: In pursuit of dreams


President and CEO of Speedy Mart Food Stores, Bipin Patel

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, filmmaker – Bipin Patel dons several hats with elan. As President and CEO of Speedy Mart Food Stores, a chain of convenience stores and gas stations, he looks over 35 franchised or owned stores in the Tri-state area. He is chairman of Indus American Bank (IAB), located in Iselin, NJ. IAB serves the South Asian community and it has achieved over 200 million dollars worth of assets in short span of four years with four branches in Iselin, Parsippany, Jersey City and Hicksville.


Bipin Patel ventured into film production with ‘The Hangman.’ Seen here with actor Om Puri.


Bipin Patel with choreographer and filmmaker Farah Khan


Bipin and Mukula Patel with actor Anil Kapoor

He is also Chairman of Asian American Retailers Association (AARA), a non-profit organization which has over one thousand gas stations, convenience stores and liquor stores as members. AARA was founded in 2004 and Patel was founding president for five consecutive years.

Patel is also first Indian to serve on Board of Directors of National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). NACS is an association based in Alexandria, VA, with more than 2,000 retail member (49 countries) companies of operating more than 75,000 stores in the US and operating more than 300,000 stores worldwide. In addition it serves more than 2,000 supplier member companies.

Originally from Nadiad in Gujarat, Patel moved to the US in 1983 after obtaining an engineering degree from the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara. He started with a job but his heart was in establishing a business of his own. In 1985 he set up his first Speedy Mart store which over the years has grown to a chain of 50-60 stores.


Patel is also first Indian to serve on Board of Directors of National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). Seen here with former President George Bush at an NACS event


Bipin Patel with wife Mukula, daughter Payal and son Amit

During all these years, he has built strong relationships with property owners, real estate brokers, construction companies and environmental companies, professionals such as lawyers, accountants, and suppliers in the tri-state area. “I believe in building long term relationships,” he says.

Currently as president of Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) he is leading the 41-yearold organization which will be hosting the historic 31st India Day Parade in Manhattan on August 21.

The theme of this year’s parade is ‘My Earth-My Home’, celebrating ‘My India-My pride.’ The 2011 India Day Parade will commence at 12:30 PM from Madison Avenue and 40th Street. As always an array of cultural programs will begin 3 PM onwards on the cultural stage set on 23rd Street.

For those who cannot attend the parade, the FIA has arranged to show it Live on TV in North America and worldwide on the Internet.

Each year during the India Day Parade, various organizations participate in a range of activities. Responding to last year’s overwhelming demand of booths, this year FIA is offering 72 booths to organizations to launch their products.

The parade would be led by marching bands and theme based floats. It would continue the tradition of customized floats showcasing Indian culture, as introduced last year. Parade attendees will take a journey into the past with colorful characters from historical and religious stories.

The FIA is also inviting over 5000 young Indian American students from premium universities to march at the parade.

The highlights of this year’s parade include having actress Rani Mukherjee as the Grand Marshall and Bharrat Jagdeo, the president of Guyana, as the chief guest. Jagdeo will join a galaxy of superstars including renowned musician Pandit Jasraj, actor Gulshan Grover and 15 television artists from India.

The Empire State Building will light up in tricolor on August 19th in honor of India’s Independence Day, a blood donation drive will be held in memory of victims of September 11 and the chief guests and leading community members will ring the closing bell at NASDAQ.

“The planning started six months ago. 40-50 volunteers have worked relentlessly over last two months daily for six to seven hours to make this event a success,” says Patel.

About 40 floats and 35 marching groups will be part of the parade. This year on the best float and marching group will be judged for first, second and third prizes each.

As for the future of FIA, Patel hopes to make the organization stronger and get more youth involved. “They are the future of the organization. It’s amazing how they use technology to achieve our goals and bring in fresh ideas,” he says.

Another major goal is to increase the corpus and volunteer base, he adds.

Apart from community service and expanding his business, Patel also holds interest in film production. He produced a movie ‘The Hangman’ starring Om Puri and Shreyas Talpade which didn’t send the cash registers ringing. The story revolved around a guilt ridden executioner who struggles between the mandates of his profession and his desire to create a better life for his son. But a series of ill-fated events results in a startling tragedy.

Though his first film didn’t turn out as expected, he harbors ambition of starting with another film next year. “Making films was my childhood dream. Being an entrepreneur I decided to take the risk of making one. I was earlier in talks with American Desi director and had even given deposit to Boman Irani for a film but that project didn’t take off. Later the director of ‘The Hangman’ approached me. I liked the idea and went ahead with it but over 3 years I had to fire the entire production team including the director. Finally Amol Gupte finished it. I lost money on the film but have moved on. It was premiered in the US and in India. I am happy that at least it was completed and released,” he states matter of factly.

Patel had a dream of opening a bank for the Indian community. He eventually got on board of the Indus American bank which caters to a huge South Asian population in the Tristate area. IAB was named one of the 50 fastest growing companies in the State of New Jersey for 2009 by New Jersey Biz.

Patel believes in teamwork. No wonder his employees, some 100 of them, are now business owners. Along with his son Amit he also managed a chain of restaurants which employs 200 people, all of them Americans. “I don’t hold grudges and move on. Nor do I get bogged down if things don’t go my way” is his success mantra.

How does he manage so many commitments? “That’s a good question indeed,” he says, “I am talking to you on a Sunday from my office explains it all, isn’t it?” “I try to balance all my commitments but that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family,” he says.

Patel lives in New Jersey with his wife Mukula, son Amit and daughter Payal who is a student of law.

Philosophy of life: “I don’t hold grudges and move on. Nor do I get bogged down if things don’t go my way.”

“The planning for (FAI’s) India Day Parade started six months ago. 40-50 volunteers have worked relentlessly over last two months daily for six to seven hours to make this event a success,” says Patel.

As for the future of FIA, President Bipin Patel hopes to make the organization stronger and get more youth involved. “They are the future of the organization. It’s amazing how they use technology to achieve our goals and bring in fresh ideas,” he says.

Success Mantra: “I believe in building long term relationships”

[ BY A STAFF REPORTER ]

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