Hamilton Plastics, which has grown its business 21 consecutive years, has been hit like other companies by the slowing economy and steep runup in petroleum.
Company founder and chief executive Harshad Shah said it may be tough to grow in 2008, but his business is working hard to keep the streak going, and he’s still hopeful of achieving an increase.
“Maybe we’ll grow a little bit,” he said.
Mr. Shah has been named this year’s Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year.
The 54-year-old businessman will be honored at a June 4 luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center after his selection by local business and professional groups.
“It inspires you to do more,” he said about the recognition.
The native of India is a long way from the person who immigrated to the United States in 1974 with little money in his pocket.
After arriving in the United States, he maintained 18-hour work and study days until earning a second degree. Upon graduation, he worked in the technical departments of several large corporations in the Chicago area, including Union Carbide.
“Union Carbide was working on a trash bag. They didn’t want to do it. I said I wanted to do it,” Mr. Shah said.
He and his wife moved to Chattanooga and he worked for a privately owned plastic film manufacturer in Dalton, Ga.
“I came here and loved it,” he said, eventually starting Hamilton Plastics over two decades ago in the Orchard Knob area and later moving it to Centre South Riverport.
His company has grown from a one-person operation to a 130-employee supplier of packaging for the food, industrial and medical markets.
Hamilton Plastics has invested about $30 million in expansions and equipment purchases since landing at the Riverport.
Mr. Shah owns a sister operation in Tempe, Ariz., and he’s a principal in 3H Group, a Chattanooga-based company that owns and manages over a dozen hotels including Staybridge Suites in the Southside.
Hiren Desai, chief operating officer at 3H, said Mr. Shah has been supportive of his strategic vision of the company.
“He’s always careful. He looks at the negatives and positives and evaluates things,” Mr. Desai said. “He has good negotiation skills.”
Mr. Shah also was one of eight organizers of CapitalMark Bank & Trust. The Chattanooga bank was one of the nation’s top performing start-ups in 2007, according to federal regulators.
Mr. Shah and wife, Ulka, have two daughters, Pooja and Niti, who attended Baylor School and Vanderbilt University and have their own businesses with their husbands. Son Guru is also a Baylor graduate and a sophomore at Vanderbilt’s engineering school.
Mr. Shah said that “we have raised them to be good citizens, not only well-educated children in top schools but they have kept community service in mind.”
He is has served on boards such those of as Allied Arts, YMCA, Community Foundation and Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise Inc. He’s a founder and acting president of the Guajarati Samaj of East Tennessewe, a socio-religious organization for people of Indian descent with a membership base of 1,500.
He recently built a two-story school for science in his hometown in India that was dedicated to his late father. The school allows up to 45 students per year to attain a college-level education in the field.
Other managers of the year and the organizations for which they worked: Ruth Brinkley, Memorial Hospital; Tom Edd Wilson, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce; Vicky Gregg, BlueCross Blue Shield of Tennessee; Joe Guthrie, Chattanooga Area Regional Council of Governments Southeast Tennessee District; Claude Ramsey, Hamilton County mayor; Bill Stacy, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Fletcher Bright, Fletcher Bright Co.; J. Harold Chandler, UnumProvident Corp.; Patsy Hazlewood, BellSouth Telecommunications; Carolyn Goolsby Jones, C.J. Enterprises; Zan Guerry, Chattem Inc.; Kenneth Baxter, Electric Power Board; James D. Kennedy, Cherokee Warehouse; James C. Bewrry, Republic Parking; James E. Pickle, Erlanger hospital; Paul K. “Pat” Brock, Brock Candy Co.; Dalton Roberts, Hamilton County executive; Daniel K. Frierson, Dixie Yarns Inc.; Joseph Decosimo, Joseph Decosimo and Co.; Olan Mills II, Olan Mills Co.; O.D. McKee, McKee Foods Corp.; and H. Carey Hanlin, Provident
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...