I have come across a very few people, who dreamt of something and by tireless efforts, achieved their goals and fulfilled their dreams. They are the ones who reject the monotonous lifestyle of a common man and strive to achieve something big. In their quest to achieve a groundbreaking ambition, they come across with lots of hurdles and ups and downs but the thirst for their goals never set them back and eventually they reach their destiny.
49 years ago, a young soul aged 16 from Pakistan flew to California with the dream of living the American life-like a king, but, from the day first, challenges met him. With just $500 in a pocket, this teen came to study architecture at the University of Illinois but he was met with bad luck when he was unable to get a room in the dormitory. Moreover, the strongest blizzard in the history of California welcomed him and since he had never lived in such harsh weather conditions, therefore, he thought of renting a room with a heavy heart that costed him $2. This left him with a thought that he will be hand to mouth within a few days if he kept on paying the rent for the room. So, the following day, he got up and found a job of washing dishes which paid him $1.5/hour and for him this was an ultimate happiness because he was earning a good deal of money which most of his fellow Pakistanis were unable to do. This was the start of his splendid journey. The boy was Shahid Khan, son of a middle-class construction entrepreneur and a mathematics professor.
After the first semester, Shahid threw away his career blueprint of becoming an architect, pointing a plain reason that the ‘architects just don’t make enough money’, and instead pursued a professional degree in Industrial Engineering at the university of Illinois. While attending the university, he also started working at the automotive manufacturing company FLEX-N-GATES. After completing his graduation, he was made company’s engineering director. Khan’s life took a spin of 180° when he set up his own manufacturing company BUMPER WORKS. He aimed to build one piece bumpers with considerably less weight. In 1980, he bought Flex-n-Gates from his former employer Charles Gleason Butzow and combined their companies. His business then expanded when in 1984 they started supplying a small number of bumpers for Toyota pickups and within four years he became the only sole supplier for Toyota pickups. By 1989, flex-n-gates became the only company to supply bumpers to the entire Toyota line in the United States. Since then, flex-on-gates have grown from $17 million in sales to almost $2 billion in 2010. With 48 manufacturing plants all across the United States and several other countries, khan generated a revenue of $3 billion and approximately 13,000 jobs. In 1999, he was awarded Distinguished Alumnus Award the by the University of Illinois, Department of Mechanical Science and Industrial Engineering. Whereas, in 2007 Mr. Khan was given the Minority Business Leadership Award from the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
Khan was always fascinated by sports. Before coming to the US, he had a great interest in cricket. While he was completing his professional studies, he started taking a keen interest in soccer. After a highly successful venture, Khan thought of buying a National Football League team. He entered into an agreement to acquire 60 percent of the St. Louis Rams from Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez on February 11, 2010. On November 29, 2011, Khan agreed to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars from Wayne Weaver and his group, awaiting NFL approval. The sale was finalized on January 4, 2012, and the purchase price for 100% share in the Jaguars was estimated to have been $760 million. On December 14, 2011, the NFL owners unanimously approved the purchase whereas the sale made Khan the first member of an ethnic minority ever to own an NFL team. Khan is also a board member of the NFL FOUNDATION.
Later in July 2013, Khan negotiated the purchase of the London soccer club Fulham of the premier league from Mohamed Al-Fayed but here too his ambition to buy the team was not just because he was a fan, but because he was a businessman who foresaw his new business in soccer. The deal was finalized with the estimated amount of £150–200 million. On July 12, 2013. However, an official purchase price for the club remained confidential. He put in an immense effort to make it a success. After the finalization of the deal, Al-Fayed praised khan by stating “A living embodiment of the American success story”.
Aside soccer, Khan also gave a keen interest to the golf and tennis. He loved the institute that accepted him in 1966 so much that he not only paid for a tennis center at Illinois but also donated to the entire athletic department and rented his plane for recruiting purposes. In 2006, he was awarded by University of Illinois the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service. He also bought Urbana Golf and Country Club of which he is a member too. Even though he doesn’t golf much, he helped the club survive a financially difficult time.
Shahid Khan is highly appreciated for his philanthropic work which includes Jaguars Foundation which in 2012 generated more than $1,000,000 in grants to children’s and family programs, as well as other NFL and team-related initiatives. More than 11,000 charitable tickets with an in-kind value of nearly $500,000 were also donated by the foundation. Mr. Khan also became a Lincoln Laureate, the state’s highest award for achievement given by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, for his philanthropic work in the state in 2011. Shahid is also ranked 179th in the list of 400 richest Americans generated by the Forbes. Besides, he is the 491st wealthiest person in the world and 1st in Pakistan.
It is safe to say that Shahid Khan is one the most successful stories of our age. That man did not just made money but tried to make the best of it. Many of us work hard throughout our lives and do not really achieve that kind of prestige. But this story is not of prestige it is of hard work. One needs to understand that hard work pays off one way or another. Shahid Khan is a symbol of success and pride and clear example of a human potential.