The panoramic view of Detroit’s New Center area visible from his office suite is not just an executive perk, says Lakeshore Engineering’s Vice President Thomas Hardiman, “It’s proof of our commitment to Detroit.”
Hardiman, a partner in the fifteen-year-old corporation which specializes in construction and environmental services throughout the world, first met company founder Avinash Rachmale in 1994 when the Indian-born engineer applied for loans at the Minority Business Development Agency where Hardiman worked. “The consultant who Avinash was scheduled to see was busy, so I offered to help. Our combined interests and complimentary talents made for an excellent relationship, and grew after I became an independent consultant. Among the many ideas we share is a ‘Made In Detroit’ vision for Lakeshore, which makes our current location, near the area where I grew up, ideal. ”
Rachmale’s attachment to the city dates to his days as a graduate student in engineering at Wayne State University. Born in the tiny village of Waigaon in central India, Rachmale overcame a litany of obstacles when he emigrated here in the mid-eighties, but a combination of perseverance, insight and a quest for excellence has allowed his almost astonishing success since then. Five years ago, Lakeshore Engineering had revenues of scarcely ten million dollars; today, that figure is approaching a hundred million and growing. In the main, this is due to Rachmale’s ability to keep his company in focus and his ability to find the right combination of individuals—those who can deal with the diversity of the city and share his dedication to company growth and synergy in the heart of Detroit.
This is proven out by Lakeshore’s track record, but is also soundly echoed in the opinions of Rachmale’s co-workers, especially Executive Vice President and part owner Kevin Parikh, who heads up the Air force program among other similarly vital projects. Parikh, who is also of Indian derivation, counts Rachmale among the most intriguing personalities he’s ever met.
“It’s an amazing story, really,” Parikh shares. “Avinash appears to be the most unassuming individual you’d want to meet, but I can tell you from personal knowledge, he fears nothing. The magnitude of the decisions he confronts daily, the clear-headed outlook combined with his genuine affection for Detroit are a unique mix.”
Still, Parikh points out, Rachmale retains a deep longing for the country of his birth, and when he speaks of his family, most of whom have remained in India, “I can see a certain twinkle in his eye.”
“He is, I think,” Parikh nods, “really torn between two places.”