Area Subway patrons likely will have a much greater appreciation for dining there once they meet owner Romil Chudgar and realize his of level of dedication.
Chudgar, 27, displays the enthusiasm and energy typical of a young adult. However, the local businessman also has a work ethic and razor-sharp focus uncommon at any age, which he has used to transform each of his five Subway eateries into a success.
"There is really no secret," he said. "In everything I do, I put 110 percent into it because my wife and kids depend on me.
"On top of the franchise royalties and advertising fees I pay, I also do my own marketing. I have a sponsorship with the Morrison YMCA and banners on soccer fields and basketball gyms. I want to be involved in the community."
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The Camfield Street store in Ballantyne was Chudgar's third acquisition and provides a good example of his business acumen.
"The previous owner had other interests, and the business was being run by his kids and was one of the lowest-volume Subways in Charlotte," said Chudgar.
Chudgar said he knew the area and felt he could turn the store around. He made an offer and waited eight months before the owner agreed to sell.
Chudgar immediately remodeled and replaced employees to improve customer service. The Camfield store is now one of the highest-volume locations and includes many of his best customers.
What's most remarkable about Chudgar, however, is his journey to his current position - proof that most success doesn't come easy.
Chudgar's father brought the family to the U.S. to seek a better life after suffering a business setback in his native India.
"My mother was like, 'OK, let's go,' so I came here at age 13 and didn't know any English," said Chudgar. "It was rough. We lived in some apartments off South Boulevard. I got picked on in school. I got my clothes at Kmart and had no idea about American fashion."
Chudgar said he knew he had to rely on the one advantage he did possess.
"I told myself that I'm going to get everything I need by working," he said. "I found a job at Anzi's Pizza & Pasta over on Stonecrest and worked 50 hours or more a week during the summer."
Chudgar kept working through high school at various food-industry jobs, always asking questions, saving money and attaining knowledge that would prove useful down the road.
While a student at UNC Charlotte in 2005, Chudgar was influenced by a business instructor who assigned him a project that would define his future. "Professor (John) Murphy was my mentor and would always push me because of the passion I had," said Chudgar. "He actually had a muffler franchise and became a millionaire when he sold them. Then he opened a bank. He had over 13 businesses in his lifetime."
Murphy had students research a company of their choice and draw up a business plan. Chudgar was pressed for time with his full work schedule at Arby's, so he went next door and researched a Subway store.
"When it was done, I realized (the plan) made sense: the investment, the returns, the people business, my own space," he said. "I asked professor Murphy what he thought and he told me to go for it."
Chudgar immediately started to work through the Small Business Administration and approached a bank with $60,000 he had saved. He got the loan and became a franchisee at 22, buying the Pineville Subway where he created his business plan.
"It was all a breeze because I had already been in the food industry for eight years" said Chudgar.
Chudgar's business savvy and management skill grew with his experience.
"I was young and made many mistakes but learned from every one of them," he said. "You can also only learn so much until you become an owner or manager."
Chudgar works fewer hours today with five stores than he did with his first one. He monitors each store from his Blakeney-area home or any location through a computerized camera system.
"My phone is always next to me and I also have such loyal employees that I don't have to worry," he said.
Chudgar is not content to stay at his current level of success. "My goal was to have five stores in five years and 10 stores in 10 years," he said.
Though he doesn't have family directly involved in his business operations, Chudgar said they are the real key to it all.
"My motivation comes from my father. At age 36, he came (to this country) broke. The courage of a man to work a night shift job and go to school for three years - he is a CPA today," he said.
"My wife takes care of a home and our two kids when I'm not there. She gives me such peace."