One of the richest men in the world and the richest person of Pakistani origin in the world. An estimated net worth of over $3.8 billion which is more than Donald Trump who has a net worth of $3.5 billion and Oprah Winfrey who has an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion. Shahid Khan or Shad Khan as he likes to be known is ranked 122nd in the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans and is the 490th richest person in the world.
Khan made his money from automobile parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate based in Urbana, Illinois and also the owner of American Football side Jacksonville Jaguars and England Premier League Football Club Fulham. The charismatic billionaire works hard to make sure he is on top of his game but he has faced his fair share of adversity and had to overcome many challenges. It hasn’t always been easy for Shad Khan.
Born in a middle class family in Lahore, Pakistan while his family were involved in the construction business and his mother a now retired professor of maths. Shahid Khan as a child was exceptionally motivated and wanted to do well for himself. He wanted to succeed. He would do anything to succeed. Shad Khan saw education as a way out of Pakistan saw it as a way he could bring success to himself. So when he was 16 he was looking for colleges to attend. One of the colleges that stood out to him was in Illinois. He set of to America with only $500 and a dream.
“I wanted to study engineering. We researched and applied to a couple of schools. The first letter that came was from the University of Illinois and admitted. So there I went. “
It was difficult for Shahid when he got into Illinois because he was in a foreign country with foreign people and he was only 16. By the time he made it to America, the soles of his shoes were torn. Khan came to America in 1967. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while studying for a BSc in Industrial Engineering, he graduated in 1971. When he first came into the USA his first job was working as a dishwasher for $1.20/an hour. Khan was more than pleased with this wage because according to him this was more than what most people were earning in Pakistan. He also spent his first couple of nights in the local YMCA for $2 a night. It was pretty difficult for Shahid at first as he did have difficulty speaking the language but then again to be successful you have to be able to overcome any obstacles and challenges.
“That area had almost a centuries worst storm. A blizzard about 30 inches of snow. So the air traffic was shut for days. So when I got there I’d been travelling for several days. And they’d drop you off at night and you’d be looking at snow. And where do you go? So I went to a couple of places and finally winded up at the YMCA that night. And it was ‘Wow. This is really different.’ I kind of wasn’t expecting this. “
While at university he joined the Beta Theta Pi fraternity to mix in with as many different people as he could. Beta Theta Pi was a highly selective house that was compromised of largely white students and Khan was the first Pakistani student in the fraternity.
While he was studying at the University of Illinois, Khan was working at Flex-N-Gate, an automotive manufacturing company that specialised in making bumpers for cars and other car parts. This would be his first step in success. It was here he learned a lot of things about business and becoming a success. When he graduated he was hired as the engineering director for the company.
“Then I started engineering school which was hard, and then I’d be saying ‘I can make this kind of money without a degree why should I even be going to engineering school.’ But then you discover the good things of America, the social life. I pledged a fraternity and most of the guys had convertibles so I had to get a car which meant you need another job. You get on that American Dream very quickly. “
In 1978, he started his own company, Bumper Works which made car bumpers, he started the company from a $50,000 loan and the rest from his savings. This was the start of something big for Shad Khan. In 1980 he bought out Flex-N-Gate from his previous employers. He turned Flex-N-Gate into a massive company supplying most the big car manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda and Chrysler. Shad adopted some key philosophies into making Flex-N-Gate successful; continuous improvement and respect for people and employees. This is key to Khans success and one of his principles for a successful company.
Shad grew Flex-N-Gate to a billion dollar company, he employs over 12,500 employees and has over 48 plants in the US and other countries. Since his takeover he has grown the sales from $17 million to over $3 billion, which is truly spectacular and an outstanding result.
Taking over the NFL
After the success of his automotive company, Flex-N-Gate, Shad Khan wanted to expand his portfolio of companies and move into American Football. Khan was a big fan of the NFL. His first attempt to move into the NFL was in 2010, when he tried to acquire 60% of the St. Louis Rams however the minority shareholders, exercised a clause which matched any proposed big thus cancelling Khans’ bid.
His second attempt at buying an NFL team came the next year in 2011, when he wanted to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars from previous owner Wayne Weaver. Shad Khan purchased 100% of the share prices estimated to be worth $760 million, thus making Shad the first person of ethnic minority ever to purchase and own an NFL team.
At Jacksonville, Shahid is not just a typical owner and he doesn’t just sit on the sidelines. He meets the fans, interacts with them and tries to ‘sell’ tickets. His charming and charismatic personality makes him a fan favourite at Jacksonville Jaguars.
Khan knows that the fans are the ones that make the team and even though Jacksonville are playing pretty disappointing but on a positive note there performance is improving and they are winning some games. Khan’s philosophy on investing in his employees is still used in Jacksonville as he has invested vastly in his teams locker room. In the locker rooms he has put in TV screens, swimming pools and spa baths, everything in which the team can relax after a hard game.
Shad Khan acknowledges the support and loyalty that the fans give him and he thanks each and every one of them. He promises to invest into the team and make the fans proud.
Khan had his few fair racial remarks and racism from fans because of him being a Muslim but this never put him off or deterred him.
Making his Mark on the Premier League
With the purchase of his NFL team, Khan further added to his portfolio of companies with the purchase of English Premier League side Fulham. In July 2013, Khan agreed to purchase Fulham from previous owner Muhamed Al Fayed for an estimated £200-£250 million although an official price was not disclosed.
“There were two sides, business and football. Business I understand. It was pretty obvious to me what we had to do. But the football side was like the Holy Grail.”
Shahid Khan’s Principles of Success
Believe In Yourself
Invest in your Employees
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