“I have six sisters and a brother,” Mr. Chowdhury revealed. “I am the second youngest. I have three sisters who live in the United States and three in Bangladesh. My brother lives in Canada with his family. My father passed away five months before I came to this country. He was only 62. My mom outlived him by 33 years. She was 85 years old. I grew up in a loving, caring family. My parents always helped others.”
In 1981, Chowdhury arrived with a student visa to go to Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. At the time, he couldn’t even speak English.
But all that was about to change quickly. Chowdhury applied himself with great diligence, working in fast food, in a stockroom and waiting tables.
“I took two years of intensive English and two years of basic courses, but I never finished college,” he said. “When I was in Big Spring, I met Tammy. That was one of the best things that ever happened to me. She is simple, gentle and quiet but also a very strong-minded individual––someone you can trust and depend on. She is very protective of her family. She is the best girlfriend, wife and mother anybody could ask for. She is my best friend. I have learned a lot from her, including the American culture, honesty, housekeeping and no drama! We didn’t have a lot. But no matter what, she always made sure we always paid our bills before anything else. She still pays her bills as soon as they come in. She quit her job to stay home to make sure she was always there for the boys and me.”
After dating for six months, the couple wed in 1984, as Chowdhury fondly recalled.
“Most of the people thought our marriage would never last, because we were so young, but they were wrong,” he said. “We moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1985, and we moved to Cramerton in 1996, because of my business.
“I regret not finishing college,” he continued. “But my focus was to have my own business one day. I didn’t finish college, so I always wanted to make sure I gave my two boys the best and the highest education, and I did.”
Joshua Chowdhury works for Procter & Gamble, practicing privacy and cyber security law. He is a graduate of the universities of Virginia and North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Austin Chowdhury went to UNC-Chapel Hill for six years and earned a master’s degree in urban planning. But his life was cut tragically short due to an accidental opioid overdose two years ago.
“He was a victim of this opioid crisis that was created by the pharmaceutical companies that killed 72,000 people in the United States in 2017, including Austin,” as his father recalled. “We didn’t know until he passed away that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing or bad behavior. We miss Austin every moment of our lives. Without Austin, nothing feels the same anymore. We can’t move on. But we have to move forward for Joshua and our family.”
The keys to success
Even though he is now a successful businessman, Mr. Chowdhury is modest and self-effacing about it.
“I am not an expert,” he said. “I can only share my experiences with the business world. As a small businessman, I always believed in growing your business slowly. Don’t borrow too much too fast. Always focus on safety, quality and service. Do the right thing, even when no one is looking. It is called integrity. To be successful in business, you have to build trust with your customers, suppliers, employees and your community. At the end of the day, as an owner of the company, you are responsible for everything you and your employees do.”
Chowdhury offered some sage business advice.
“Don’t follow money,” he added. “Follow your passion, and money will follow you. Don’t waste your time focusing on your competition. Plan your business, and make necessary changes as needed. Keep an honest accountant and an attorney. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice when necessary. As a small businessman, we don’t know everything. Pay your taxes when they are due. The best advice I got from my accountant was not to worry about taxes, because the more taxes you pay means the more money you are making. As a businessman, you have to know your cash flow. This can make you or break you. In a business, sometimes you only get one chance to make your customers happy. The goal is to bring them back to your business. In a negotiation, price is not everything. You have to build a good relationship. Don’t micro-manage. Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to produce uncommon results.”
When he’s not working, Chowdhury enjoys his hobbies: exercise, golf, reading and beach vacations. And he enjoys spending time with his family and helping others.
“Nothing feels better than knowing you are making a difference in somebody else’s life, directly or indirectly,” he observed.
Chowdhury cited some local leaders he most respects: Jaggy Anand, Ernest Sumner, Dr. Velma Taormina, Donna Lockett, Dr. Patricia Skinner and Dr. Todd Davis. Chowdhury’s favorite president is Abraham Lincoln, and his favorite world leaders are Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope Francis, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. His favorite charities are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Holy Angels of Belmont and “Remembering Austin,” which memorializes his late son.
Chowdhury said he has but one regret in life: Austin’s accidental death.
Talking of “Remembering Austin,” Chowdhury offered further explication. You can contribute to this charitable and informational endeavor––funding the Gaston Controlled Substances Coalition in its war on the opioid crisis and creating greater awareness of the problem––when you come out April 13 for the annual Gaston Community Foundation Run. The three-mile race starts at 9 a.m. in downtown Gastonia.
Run for Team Austin at this event, and help make a difference. See the Website at www.rememberingaustin.org for more details.
Onward and upward
And for Tire Cord USA, thanks in no small measure to its versatility and diversification, business is booming. Its president sees no signs of anything slowing down.
Above all, Chowdhury is a grateful man. He has come a long way indeed from creating a business as a young immigrant of 24. Now living the American Dream, he remains in fact a man of dreams. Chowdhury loves his adopted country. He is grateful to America for its freedom and the opportunities thus afforded him as a hardworking entrepreneur.
“It’s in my blood,” he remarked of the ethos of hard work.
And he expressed his gratitude to his family and offered up some words of wisdom as well.
“I thank my mom, my dad, my wife and my boys for who I am,” he said. “I give credit to my associates, customers and suppliers for my business success. They make my life easier. I love what I do! I am here to serve others and my community. I believe in giving everyone a second chance, if possible. Don’t judge. Get informed and get involved to make a difference in your community. Life is short. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Enjoy the moment responsibly.”
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