This article originally appeared in India Abroad. By Ajit Jain.
An Indo-Canadian businessman has won one of the most prestigious business awards for the Ontario region this year.
Steve Gupta, a Toronto-based hotelier who owns the Easton’s Group, was recognized as ‘Entrepreneur of the year’ in the real estate division by Ernst and Young at a gala dinner held earlier this week.
Gupta said only two persons made it to the finals of the real estate division, the other being Lou Maroun of Real Estate Investing Trust. “Till the last minute, like at the Oscar award ceremony, there’s this suspense till the emcee asks for the envelope and the final winner is announced,” he told India Abroad.
“I have been a finalist for 3 years in a row and that itself is quite a recognition, quite an achievement for an Indo-Canadian, for a member of the visible minority here in Toronto, where all the big guys fiercely compete for these coveted awards,” Gupta said.
“I feel really good. Being a minority, I feel really proud to be amongst all my peers, Canadian mainstream business leaders, that I was able to get this award. It is a great inspiration not only for my family and my children but all Indians,” he said. “It just opens the doors for our people and the sky is the limit… I have never felt that there’s anything that I can’t do. I always feel if I want to be the prime minister one day i have the ability to become and do that work successfully. You have to aim high.”
Gupta is known as a man of few words, strictly professional and shy of the spotlight. However, his greatest ambition, he says, is more for his son Suraj, now 15. “In all seriousness my wish is some day my son should become the prime minister of Canada. I am grooming him in that way.”
“I feel really good. Being a minority, I feel really proud to be amongst all my peers, Canadian mainstream business leaders, that I was able to get this award. It is a great inspiration not only for my family and my children but all Indians.”
Gordon Fisher, publisher of the National Post, introduced Gupta as winner of the Entrepreneur Award, detailing how he arrived in Canada in 1971 and started Highway 401 service station. “That was the beginning of Easton’s Group of Hotels, and enterprise that made its mark by turning under-valued properties into thriving concerns. Its three largest projects, over $100 million each, are creating thousands of long-term jobs and providing significant benefits to local communities.”
Part of the award citation read ‘…With courage and an eye for opportunity that few others have Steve truly defines the word entrepreneur.’
Dianne Francis, editor at large of the Financial Post, currently on a Fellowship at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Business, nominated Gupta’s name.
Following a nomination, the candidate’s record is reviewed by a three-person panel of judges from three different companies. “They come and interview you, in fact frill you for over three hours,” Gupta revealed. “That’s followed by the judges’ reception that you as a nominee also join.”
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes the outstanding contribution of entrepreneurs to this country’s growth, as well as the hard work, the vision, and the efforts that are required to build a successful business.
The awards promote the spirit and success of those brave individuals that put everything on the line to build something new.
“To be recognized amongst the very best is truly an honor,” Gupta emphasized.
In 2000, Gupta’s Easton’s Group received the Hotel company of The Year Award from Hotelier magazine.
In 2004, he was honoured by the Markham Board of Trade with the 2004 award for Entrepreneurship and was nominated in 2005 fro Hotelier of The Year.