ATLANTA — New NACS Chairman Rahim Budhwani, CEO of Hoover, Ala.-based 6040 LLC, spoke of two important elements during his closing general session address at the 2016 NACS Show: hope, which he called a constant that "stays with you when everything else is lost," and love, which gives flavor and joy to life.
Following a symbolic passing of the gavel from 2015-16 NACS Chairman Jack Kofdarali, Budhwani wished attendees a good morning in a large number of languages before sharing a story about his personal lucky numbers: 60 and 40 (hence, the name of his company). Budhwani said he has been playing these numbers for the last 16 years "and I've been winning every day."
After moving to the United States at age 29 with his wife, Budhwani worked as a computer programmer and had no intention of opening a convenience store. However, he was approached by a friend who proposed they open a c-store for which Budhwani would be the silent partner and keep 40 percent of the profits, while the friend would work there and keep 60 percent.
"We had a name. We had a logo. We had a plan," he said. However, when his partner dropped out of the deal at the last minute due to a change of heart, "My life changed overnight."
As he balanced his computer programming job with running the store and continuing his education, Budhwani began to see the company logo as the shape of a man whose life had turned upside down. Yet rather than exit the business as soon as possible, he learned about the c-store industry and fell in love with it, sparking a changed mindset toward his work.
"I needed to go from working in my store to working for my store," he said.
Involving himself in local and national industry associations, Budhwani began attending NACS events and taking part in its leadership development, and became "hooked." He was glad to become more involved, and recounted his first time in a room where he didn't know anybody, when a NACS leader promptly began showing him around and introducing him.
The lesson Budhwani took from this moment was that if you need help, just ask for it. "This is the culture of NACS."
Joining NACS helped him become more active and engaged, Budhwani said, and led him to where he is today. He noted that the NACS Show itself offers amazing connections to improve one's business and inspires new ideas.
He reflected on how to him, "c-store" doesn't just mean convenience store. "It means community store." After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, one of his stores was too damaged to open to the public. For a month, it was a resource to first responders, extending the helping culture of NACS and the c-store industry.
Today, Budhwani said, he sees his company's logo not as a man whose life was turned upside down but as a person who is doing flips because he wakes up every morning doing what he loves.
"Hope has stayed with me through all of the upside and downs of my life," he said. "An average guy like me can make it as long as you have the passion and love of what you do."