By: Pramod Thomas
INDIAN-AMERICAN award-winning entrepreneur and a best-selling author Dr Shri Thanedar who ran for Governor two years ago, has been elected to the House of Representatives in Michigan.
He won from the third district of Michigan with 93 per cent of the total votes.
Thanedar, 65, raised a record-breaking $438,620, primarily from his own wealth, in the state House primary against six other opponents of the Democratic Party.
He cashed in on his high name familiarity after he moved from Ann Arbor to Detroit after losing the 2018 primary. His campaign two years ago featured a heavy dose of “Shri for We” television ads.
Thanedar had spent almost $10 million of his own fortune to finish third behind Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Abdul El Sayed in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, but he won the most votes in Detroit.
Born in Belgaum, India, he did his Master’s in chemistry at the University of Bombay in 1977. He came to the US in 1979 to obtain his PhD. in Polymer Chemistry from the University of Akron(1982).
Thanedar then worked as a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 1982 to 1984.
He told the media in a recent interview that he began campaigning last fall prior to the pandemic and has spent time during the outbreak passing out masks, hand sanitiser and door knockers.
He said that he wants to tackle a long list of challenges plaguing his district, including blight, water shutoffs, foreclosures, crime and unemployment.
“I’m seeing people have no hope. Conditions are really bad and nothing has changed in years. People are disenfranchised. I’ve slept and ate on the floor, with no running water. I understand the pain of poverty,” Thanedar said, referring to his upbringing in India.
The Avomeen Analytical Services, a chemical testing laboratory founded by him in 2010, was recognised on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies in 2015 and again in 2016.
Recently, he sold controlling interest in Avomeen to High Street Capital, a PE firm, however he continues to own 40 per cent stake in the company.
Previously, Thanedar grew Chemir Analytical Services Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri – a three-employee company in 1990 to over 400 employees and $63 million in annual sales.
Thanedar chronicled his rags to riches immigrant story in a 2005 book which became, and remains, a popular business autobiography in the Marathi language.
The English version of that book, “The Blue Suitcase: Tragedy and Triumph in an Immigrant’s Life”, was published in 2008 as a limited-release edition.
According to his personal website, Thanedar is married to Shashi Thanedar. His sons Neil and Samir graduated from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Neil has started his own high technology business while Samir works in a technology start-up.