Roadmap to Success
Mahendra Nath built a sterling career with ambition and dedication. His support for the college is empowering students to follow a similar path.
Mahendra Nath has always been a person who looks for the next goal to meet. He feels strongly about education, working hard and writing down goals as a roadmap to follow to success.
Nath graduated in 1961with a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Delhi in India. He came to the United States in 1964 with $800 in his pocket to pursue post-graduate studies in engineering at the University of Minnesota. After earning his master's degree from the U of M, he went on to work in industrial engineering at Sperry Corp.
While working at Sperry, Nath decided he wanted to be his own boss. He and his wife, Asha, put away enough money from their paychecks to partner with a friend to start India House, a retail store that sold crafts and gifts from India. By the time he and his partner had decided to sell India House in 1976, it was a $3 million business with three retail stores and a wholesale division.
Onward and upward
In 1977, Nath went into real estate, buying several large apartment buildings and a handful of office buildings. He established Nath Management Inc. in 1985, and entered the restaurant business with the purchase of two Burger King restaurants in 1990. His successes continued to pile up over the course of the decade. In 1991, Nath Management Inc. had expanded to 21 Burger Kings. In 1999, Ernst & Young awarded Nath its Entrepreneur of the Year Award. By 2001, he had increased the company's Burger King holdings to 138 restaurants. The business continued on its growth trajectory as Nath acquired hotels and the Axel's/Bonfire restaurant chain. By 2005, the company was worth $150 million.
Nath joined the Normandale Community College Foundation Board approximately a dozen years ago. In the years since, he has worked with the college to provide opportunities for students to accomplish their dreams and goals. In 2005, Normandale held a public ceremony to open the Mahendra Nath Advising Center. Naming the center after Nath was a perfect fit, as it honored an individual whose philosophy blends hard work with the willingness to make adjustments during the journey.
Ask him about his advice to students, and he offers a concise bit of wisdom.
“Write down your dream, and then write the plan to reach it,” he says.
“Revise as you need to, and don't stop until you reach it. It sounds like a simplistic thing, but it worked for me, and it will work for you.”
Even after finding so much success in the business world, Nath still takes time to list his short- and long-term goals.
“At this moment, I have planned for the next two months, the next four months, the next 12 months, the next two years, the next three years, and the next five years,” he says.
“I do this perpetually, and I repeat it to my children and grandchildren. When they see me do it, they do it for themselves as well.”
Nath believes strongly in the value that community colleges present to students. He also feels that Normandale offers a tremendous educational value, and that it is a place that offers students the attention they need, along with the flexibility to complete their education while working.
“Community colleges provide great opportunities, and they are more affordable than many other college options,” he says. “I truly enjoy being able to donate to Normandale to help students get scholarships to follow their education and goals.”
Nath adds that he enjoys seeing individuals increase their standards of living and their educational standards. He views education as a key to success, and notes that he has witnessed many people improve their lives by pursuing an education.
“Getting a good education is the most important thing an individual can do.
“It will not only help the future of that person's life, but it will build and impact future generations.
"In the long run, I believe it will help our nation for individuals to pass along these values and habits to future generations.”