For the next two weeks, we are going to highlight a story that our company President, Javed Bhaghani, shared with Junior Achievement of San Diego. This story not just encompasses the very beginnings of Biscayne Hospitality, it is a testament to the importance of Junior Achievement in Javed’s life.
Sitting on a bench…just sitting on a bench. That’s how it all started. Started what, you ask? The path that led me to where I am today.
In 1984 at Klein High School, I was an incoming freshman trying to find avenues to help me become a wealthy person. That was my ambition at 15. After school, a friend of mine named Jack DeLage, and I were talking. I asked him what he is doing, he responded that he was signing up for JA (Junior Achievement). What was that I asked…he said a business club. SAY no more!
It was so cool how we started our company and had corporate executives guide us. I still remember the folks from Mobil Oil and how they went out of their way to help us. I stayed involved in the organization in 9th, 11th and 12th grade. In 12th grade, our school was selected to attend a local competition with SME of Houston. I was selling the Christmas wreaths to the judges, so, of course, I wore a Christmas tie as part of the pitch.
After winning that competition, I was selected to go to NAJAC Indiana at Indiana University… a national stage. Of course, I signed up for the sales competition! I needed suit. I went to Macy’s and opened a charge card account and bought a black and white plaid single-breasted suit for $265. As a side note, I mentioned this purchase to my dad, but he seemed to not catch on and didn’t offer to pay for my suit! God Bless him for his tough love.
At the competition, I won second place. I can still remember how excited Jerry Mutchler and the rest of the JA of Southwest group was for me. I still remember the Eaton Corporation executives congratulating me. The emotional support provided by my JA group provided me with a new level of confidence. The best part was the $1,000 scholarship. I mentioned the prize to my mom, and she was happy. I was happier that she didn’t ask for the money!
Back in Houston, a competition judge by the name of Mike Holsey started to call me. I had blown him off my entire freshman year when I was (unsuccessfully) managing 3 dry cleaning stores for a family friend. Mike persisted… he wanted me to sell books door-to-door for Southwestern Publishing. Finally, I agreed that if he could talk my dad into the opportunity, then I would do it. I remember going to my dad’s office, where he looked like the epitome of an executive, and asked him to call Mike. What I failed to realize was that Mike was a great salesman so of course he convinced my dad this would be good for me. My dad hung up the phone and told me it was a good idea… not what I was expecting, or wanting, at that time.
I cried all the way to Nashville, where I would receive a week of sales training. After that week, I spent the summer in my territory, Youngstown, Ohio, where I worked 80 hours per week knocking on doors. After many weeks of heartache and hard work I decided to go off schedule and go to the local mosque on Friday. Being away from family and home makes you think of God and going to a familiar place. There I met a college student named Nasif Sharique.
To be continued…