From poor to franchisee, former Motorola engineer owns Subways, One Price, other investments

 
 
Updated 4/23/2017 5:05 PM
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  • J.D. Patel arrived from India to Chicago as a poor immigrant, but worked 100 hours a week as an engineer at Motorola. He later started buying franchises. He now owns 12 Subways, three CD One Price Cleaners, a construction company and other investments.

    J.D. Patel arrived from India to Chicago as a poor immigrant, but worked 100 hours a week as an engineer at Motorola. He later started buying franchises. He now owns 12 Subways, three CD One Price Cleaners, a construction company and other investments.

  • Owner J.D. Patel, at center holding giant scissors, had a ribbon cutting on his new CD One Price Cleaners franchise in Schaumburg. He held a grand opening last weekend.

    Owner J.D. Patel, at center holding giant scissors, had a ribbon cutting on his new CD One Price Cleaners franchise in Schaumburg. He held a grand opening last weekend. COURTESY OF J.D. PATEL

  • J.D. Patel, right, and wife Hetal Patel

    J.D. Patel, right, and wife Hetal Patel

  • Business partner Jay Verma, at left, and J.D. Patel.

    Business partner Jay Verma, at left, and J.D. Patel. COURTESY OF J.D. PATEL

  • David Cunningham

    David Cunningham

  • Linda Z's store owner Linda Zachman poses with Hanspeter Ueltschi, fourth generation owner of Bernina International, maker of sewing machines and accessories, in this 2011 file photo.

    Linda Z's store owner Linda Zachman poses with Hanspeter Ueltschi, fourth generation owner of Bernina International, maker of sewing machines and accessories, in this 2011 file photo. COURTESY OF BERNINA

  • Phil and Nancy Thomas

    Phil and Nancy Thomas

  • David Miller

    David Miller

  • Jennifer Masi

    Jennifer Masi

J.D. Patel of Bloomingdale came from a poor family in India and worked at least 100 hours a week here to save enough money to become an entrepreneur.

He now owns or co-owns 12 Subway franchises, a construction company and three CD One Price Cleaners, including one that recently opened in Schaumburg.

"After a short period of time, I learned what I needed to know to be successful," said Patel, 45. "And it's all from my engineering background. It taught me how I can learn what I have to do in order to succeed."

Born as Jwalit Patel in Gujarat, India, Patel immigrated to the United States in 1987 and settled in Chicago. He didn't speak English, so a relative helped him learn, although it often took him hours to get through his homework, he said.

He graduated from Conant High School and later was valedictorian of his graduating class at Illinois Institute of Technology. Although he was invited to speak, he opted out of the ceremony because, he said, of his English speaking skills and the lack of money to buy a suit.

After college, he worked as an engineer at Motorola in Schaumburg and eventually saved about $10,000. That's when he and friend, Jay Verma, invested in a Subway franchise on Chicago's south side. The long commute and working the night shift, while still at Motorola, led to working about 100 hours a week.

He didn't mind the long hours, because he saved more money to remodel the Subway and, in the process, learned about construction. That led him and another business partner, John Tourville, to open a construction company called Global Development in Chicago.

As time passed, Patel now owns 12 Subway franchises without a partner in the city. He left Motorola to focus on his businesses and some real estate investments.

He next invested with another business partner, Sam Patel, (no relation) in three CD One Price Cleaners, including one in Schaumburg and a fourth coming soon in Niles, J.D. Patel said.

J.D. Patel's success is now evident as he and his wife, Hetal Patel, soon will move from Bloomingdale to a newly constructed home in Burr Ridge.

"The new home we're building will include a bedroom for our daughter that's about the size of my old apartment," he said.

Paint and sip

David Cunningham, owner of Wondertucky Distillery at 315 E. South St. in Woodstock, has prototypes of new products, including fruit, vanilla, coffee and even spicy veggie-and-herb-infused whiskeys. Some of his upcoming events include "Paint and Sip with The Inebriated Artist" at 1 p.m. on May 1 and 4:30 p.m. on May 13 at the distillery, Joy Pinnau is known as The Inebriated Artist.

Sewing together

Hanspeter Ueltschi, fourth generation owner of Bernina International, will visit Bernina dealer Linda Z's and owner Linda Zachman in Arlington Heights at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, to mark the dealer's 50th anniversary.

FastTracks

• Phil Thomas, pharmacist, and Nancy Thomas, a staff member of Family Health Mart Pharmacy in Carol Stream recently attended the IPC Independent Pharmacy Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

• Ron Cinkus of Geneva is the new senior project manager at The Missner Group in Des Plaines. Cinkus is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience in project management and construction.

• Kelly Cutler is the new chief marketing officer and Jim Robinson the new chief commercial officer at Sleek Fleet LLC in Lake Zurich.

• José "Joe" E. Almeida, chairman of the board and CEO of Baxter International Inc., has been elected to Walgreens Boots Alliance's board of directors.

• David Miller is the new vice president and client executive for Plexus Private Client Solutions, the new personal lines insurance practice at The Plexus Groupe LLC, a growing national insurance brokerage and risk management consultancy in Chicago and Deer Park.

• Jennifer Masi of Chicago was appointed president elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Evanston.

• There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people who make business work. Send news about people in business to akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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