Investing in Rhode Island real estate is nothing new for this entrepreneur. He spent millions converting Cranston’s Park Theater into a Class A event center, rivaling any of the great theaters in Boston and Manhattan. He has created numerous jobs in Rhode Island as he brings top rated shows, such as “The Kingston Trio,” to the Park Theater. P> With ventures spread across varied industries like software, oil drilling, restaurants, electronics, chemicals, and hotels, Patel’s business empire easily tops $200 million in assets. A self-styled turnaround specialist for dying businesses, Patel has had no formal education in management, yet he has built a business empire with industries spanning the globe.
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 then booming in the United States. The next step was New York, where Patel arrived with eight dollars in his pocket to pursue graduate degrees in applied sciences from Columbia University in 1962.
“Pi,” as he is affectionately known, left the security of a top corporate job to found his own company, Summit Research Labs, a firm that makes chemicals for water treatment, paper, and antiperspirant industries. He employs more than 800 people, with operations in India, Bangkok, Thailand, and the United States.
Patel is a strong contributor to the welfare of the several communities in which he operates, both in the United States and in India where he helped build Gokul Village Kheda District. Here more than 500-orphaned children study and live. Patel has received numerous awards for his charitable work all over the world.
In January 2009, Pi built a five-star hotel ten miles from Ahmadabad, India. The 100,000 square-foot facility, modeled on ancient palatial architecture and spread across nine acres, caters to tourists and business travelers. Patel has set up a non-profit trust that will use all of the profits from this project to fund a children’s hospital and other charities in India. “The project is the culmination of my dreams in trying to help my Motherland,” says Patel.
Patel also supports charities throughout the United Sates, especially in Rhode Island. In 2010, Pi produced a play, “The Murder Trial of John Gordon,” which inspired Governor Lincoln Chafee to sign a pardon for an Irish immigrant unjustly executed in 1845.
Recently, Patel provided the funding for a book about Lt. Robert E. Thorpe, a World War II fighter pilot from Cranston, who was captured by the Japanese in 1944, tortured, and beheaded.
Pi Patel is a most worthy candidate to take his place among the illustrious members of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame–and the first native of India to achieve that distinction. I recommend him unconditionally.