Paresh Patel, President, Courtesy Vending, LLC, has been named as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Oregon Small Business Person of the Year. Courtesy Vending, LLC a 13-yr old business founded by Patel at age 17 in 1992 with one pop machine, has grown to become the largest independent snack and drink machine vending operator in Portland.
From very humble beginnings in a very competitive industry, the company posted sales of $1.6 million in 2003 and projects sales of $2.5 million in 2004, operating over 1000 vending machines, employing 17 full time route drivers, warehouse personnel, operations and administrative staff. Patel’s passion for knowledge and his drive to succeed have been evident from an early age. Patel gained his business experience at age 12 with the remodeling of his family owned motel; he led the renovation and created systems that continue to provide efficiency for the business today. Through his teenage years, he managed the financial aspects of the family business to successfully create profitability and stability for his family.
Patel has employed a very sensible and methodic approach to growing his vending business to reach the success the company enjoys today, and continues to do so. Like many self-made small business owners, he, his wife and his daughter live a relatively frugal and conservative lifestyle in order to devote resources to the growth of the business. In 2000, he used a $200,000 SBA 7a loan from Wells Fargo for a significant equipment investment, tripling his capacity and revenue thereafter.
In 2003, his company won an important coup by being awarded the vending machine contract for the City of Portland Public School District. Early in 2004, Patel again made significant expansion strides with the acquisition of a competitor's equipment and routes, almost doubling his capacity and revenue potential. This has led to the need for a larger distribution warehouse/corporate headquarters building in the Portland Airport area. Groundbreaking for this facility took place in December 2004, with the project being financed with a Wells Fargo/SBA 504 loan and with support from the Portland Development Commission.
Based on Patel’s strategic vision and leadership, Courtesy Vending, LLC is well known in the industry as a leader in technology and innovation. Courtesy Vending, LLC uses handheld computers and electronic locks as well as the leading industry software to stay on the cutting edge. Success has brought many benefits, but with no time to rest. His story is even more unique in that, during this same period of Courtesy Vending, LLC's growth, Patel provided on-going administrative and operational support to his father, who suffered a 1996 accident that left him quadriplegic, in helping to run the family's modest motel business.
In what spare time exists beyond those commitments, Mr. Patel provides numerous hours of service as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pacific Northwest Federal Credit Union, as well as supporting and serving on committees to further the goals and objectives of the Indian Cultural Community in Portland. Add to that his commitment to education; he earned an undergraduate degree and an MBA while initiating the business. Now at age 30, Mr. Patel is nearing the completion of his Ph.D in Business Administration with an emphasis in E-Business from Capella University.