Those who know Piyush Patel say he is not your usual entrepreneur, nor is his business acumen dictated by chance or
just the promise of profits.
A self-styled turnaround specialist for dying
businesses, Patel has had no formal education
in management, yet he has built a $250 million business empire with industries spanning
the globe, and that too, in these challenging
With ventures spread across varied industries like software, oil-drilling, restaurants,
electronics, chemicals and hotels, Patel draws
his strength from the diversity of his investments and the people he works with. He has
perfected the art of growing with simple strategies and identifying opportunities, both within
his existing business as well as outside of it.
Besides Piyush Palace, a palatial resort he is
developing in Ahmedabad, Patel’s recent projects include a 15,000-square-feet fusion
restaurant and bar in Manhattan and a
Broadway-style theater and performing arts
center in Rhode Island.
For the past 24 months months, Patel,
alongwith Sukhdev Swami, has helped build
Gokul Village in Kheda district, Gujarat, where
more than 500 orphaned children study and
live. The village has already received major
recognition from Gujarat Chief Minister
Patel has also recently setup a 112,000 sq-ft
dairy plant in Waterloo, in upstate New York,
capitalizing on a unique business opportunity
that doubles as social welfare.
The $4 million upstate plant is a joint
research and development operation with
India’s leading Amul Dairy. Patel landed an
exclusive contract manufacturing deal from
Amul after convincing them for over a couple
“In recent years, Gujarat is experiencing
major shortage in milk due to increased
demand, and therefore, milk product prices
are hitting the roof,” he explains. “In the US,
specially in New York state, milk is in oversup-
ply and is often discarded at dairy plants. With
the new arrangement, we will be able to pro-
duce and supply milk and all milk products,
like paneer, ghee and yogurt and export it to
other countries, excluding India, and also sell
it locally in the US.”
With all state and federal approvals in place,
Patel said the dairy plant should be fully oper-
ational in the next two months.
Growing up in India, Patel had envisioned a
research career in the chemical industry. A
gold medalist from South Gujarat University,
Surat-born Patel landed in England in 1960 to
pursue a degree in chemical engineering at the
University of Leeds.
Over the next two years, Patel realized the
potential of polymers and plastics as the industry was booming in the United States at the
time. The next stop was New York, where Patel
pursued graduate degrees in applied sciences
from Columbia University in 1962. At the
insistence of his professor, Patel enrolled in the
Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken,
New Jersey, for a degree in plastic engineering.
He graduated at the top of his class in 1964.
Armed with three degrees and several
research papers in industrial chemistry, Patel
worked with US chemical corporations over
the next 12 years, in New Jersey and Ohio,
making his way up as the leading researcher.
There, he learned a trick or two about managing large teams and profit centers within companies.
Patel is currently the chief executive officer
of Summit Research Labs, a New Jersey-based
holding company that makes chemicals for
water treatment, the paper and antiperspirant
Other than being a meticulous entrepreneur,
Patel is also quick to spot innovators and products that aim to revolutionize.
He is collaborating with Prakash Suthar
from Gujarat to introduce unbreakable baseball bats and earthquake-proof wooden houses in the US as well as Japan. The State of New
York is already helping taking the concept to
manufacturing with a grant of $300,000.
“It’s not science-fiction. This is pure science,”
Patel explains. “You study the fibers in the
wood and come up with a combination that
makes the wood unbreakable.”
The implications of such a product
and its byproducts will revolutionize
the wood industry, says Patel.
A restaurateur and real-estate developer
himself, it was only logical for Patel to tap the
tourism potential in Charotar, known as
Gujarat’s NRI belt. One such opportunity
came through in his native Gujarat. Patel
returns to his native place in Charotar every
year and knows more than a thing or two
about fellow NRIs’ yearning for an annual
homecoming and their need for suitable
For long, Patel was interested in investing in
Gujarat’s hospitality industry and in promoting religious and medical tourism in the state.
The 100,000 square feet, three-phase $25
million resort facility, modeled on ancient
palatial architecture and spread across nine
acres of farmland, caters to general tourists,
foreign medical tourists, and business travelers.
The four-storey facility features 27 boutique-style hotel rooms, a banquet hall, a night club,
an open terrace garden and lounge, a full-serv-ice restaurant, a modern theater and state-of
the-art video conferencing facilities.
To many, the resort’s features might sound
routine. But, Patel has a few secrets up his
sleeves. The heritage property has a green
theme: it has solar as well as LED lights and an
onsite water-recycling plant that uses reverse
The entire campus has been landscaped
keeping the green theme in mind, with the
planting of more than 500 mango trees and
The hotel will also facilitate high-end medical services to NRIs and foreigners. “The best
of medical services are available in Gujarat at
one-tenth of what it costs in the US and other
countries. Our hotel will provide necessary
recovery and retreat centre before and after
hospitalization. I believe this industry has a lot
of potential in India and especially in Gujarat,”
The hotel’s second phase is already near
completion, with an additional $5 million
front facade facelift and a by-invitation country club, featuring an Olympic-size swimming
pool, yoga and naturopathy treatments, to
name a few. The third phase entails an adjacent building that will house 100 penthouses
“This project is a culmination of my dreams
in trying to help my motherland,” says Patel.
He expects the resort and other related services to generate more than $2 million in profits
each year. He has setup a non-profit trust that
will entirely use the profits to fund children’s
hospital and other charities in India that are
striving hard to survive.
Although he is a highly successful businessman, Patel remains true to his roots. He lives
in the same house in New Jersey that he
brought in the 1980s with his wife Lorraine,
who he met while studying at Steven’s
Institute of Technology. Patel’s two daughters,
Avantika and Gitanjali, are settled and have
branched out on their own.
Skillful acumen leads to social welfare
Piyush Patel is
quick to spot
that aim to
India Abroad January xx, 2014
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Response Feature
Above, Piyush Patel’s
$250 million ventures
are spread across
and hotels. Left, the
112,000 sq-ft dairy
plant that Patel has
setup in upstate
New York, under