By Beena Inam
New territory. No family. No resources. But this man wasnâ€™t hindered in moving forward and achieving his goals.
Sohel Sareshwala, 43, president of Accu-Swiss Inc., is a paradigm for Muslims migrating here from other countries.
Sareshwala started out at the bottom and worked his way to the top.
He came to the U.S. because of his fatherâ€™s dream. He did not ask for any financial assistance from anyone even though he comes from a well-to-do industrialist family.
Driven by the fact that when he left his home of Gujarat, India was increasingly unsafe, due to major riots and discrimination, he and his family fled from Ahmedabad to Bombay in 1985, leaving all their possessions behind. His fatherâ€™s words marked his future for him. During the drive his father said, â€œWe have to get out of this country.â€
After completing his bachelorâ€™s degree in Mechanical Engineering from L.D. College in Ahmedabad in 1986, he left for San Jose, CA. He finished his Masters in Industrial Engineering from San Jose State University in 1988.
He started from scratch, coming to the US with 2 bags! He was self-funded.
During his Masters program, he became an assistant lecturer and taught undergraduate students at his university. During his last semester, he started looking for jobs. He was hired in a company in March 1988 but was laid off in April even before he started working for them. â€œI was shattered,â€ Sareshwala said, â€œI was afraid what to do, but I didnâ€™t give up and I kept on searching for a job.â€
In April 1988, he applied at a company named Lokring. Although they were looking for a director of engineering which he did not qualify for, as he had no work experience, because of the strong references he received from his professors and his uncleâ€™s classmate he was able to get a job as a design engineer in June 1988. His job was developing and designing fluid fittings. By working his way up he ended up developing lokring fittings. Sareshwalaâ€™s innovative and creative engineering design fetched 5 patents, â€œIt was such a great honor for me to be able to invent and obtain patents,â€ Sareshwala recalls with great pleasure.
Due to his immense attachment and allegiance toward his work, he became the Vice President of Manufacturing and Engineering in 1996. The company was booming and by 1999 because of the triumph of the lokring fluid fittings, Lokring was taken over by another company and relocated to Canada.
Sareshwala had to make a decision. He resigned.
His resignation made way for his long-awaited dream. In 2000, he acquired his company Accu-Swiss of which he is president up-to-this-date, and twenty-two people are working for him. Accu-Swiss is located in the central valley of California. It is a manufacturing house and it makes precision components and parts for Original Equipment Manufacturers (O.E.M). Accu-Swiss manufactures for the semi-conductor industry, the food industry, and makes hi-tech instrumentation for automobile and biomedical customers.
â€œDue to my formal education, experiences, business in blood I succeeded in what I was doing,â€ Sareshwala said.
Sareshwala remained equally involved in social and religious deeds during all this time. He was elected as the board of director of Islamic Society of East Bay-San Francisco (ISEB), Fremont, California in 1996. The first year he was made Treasurer, the second year Vice President, and in the third year he became the youngest president at age 36. When Sareshwala joined, the mosque was in its infancy, the land having just been bought and its foundation laid. He was instrumental in getting the occupancy permit for ISEB, and in 1998, ISEB mosque phase I was built due to his remarkable efforts.
The outcome of Sareshwalaâ€™s hard work was indeed enormous. He arranged for his two brothers and his parents to come to the U.S. He found appropriate jobs for his brothers and got them settled in California. He credits his wife for much of his success: â€œI have the best wife,â€ says he, â€œshe worked with me through aches and pains of life. I am very fortunate.â€
Allahâ€™s help, his fathers dream, his grandparentâ€™s duas and his wifeâ€™s support were together the driving force in strengthening him and making him a success.
Since 2000, he is living with his parents, wife and three daughters in Modesto, CA and is also serving as a member of board of directors of the Islamic center of Modesto.