Beginning from insurance, Steve Gupta has built five-star realty
When a 20-some thing Steve Gupta left Patiala armed with a postgraduate degree in mathematics in early 1970, he was not moving to any definite plan.
“I just wanted see the world. I went to the UK, stayed there for two months and then proceeded to Canada. Some people discouraged me, but I applied for immigration in Toronto, and got it in 20 days. That’s how I decided to stay in Canada. Subsequently, I returned to India to get married, and we started our life here in 1973,” says the soft-spoken Gupta who today runs Canada’s biggest private hotel chain called the Easton’s Group of Hotels and his real estate company.
“When I was young, I used to dream about owning fivestar hotels one day. God has been kind. We have worked very hard to build this group from scratch,” says Gupta, whose group runs 29 flagship hotels under the brands of Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn and Starwood across Canada.
As a new immigrant, Gupta started his life in Canada as an insurance agent. “I was good at math and I was good in English. So I started selling insurance by knocking on doors in Toronto. However, I always wanted to be in real estate,” recalls Gupta.
But by 1978 when he had saved some money, a real estate opportunity presented itself and Gupta bought a truck stop and gas bar in Port Hope, about 100km northeast of Toronto.
It was a $3 million deal and Gupta had just $15,000 in cash. “But I threw everything into the truck stop to make it a success.” Then he started buying properties, renovating and then selling them. Then he shifted focus to apartment properties and eventually went on to own thousands of apartment units in Toronto.
Gupta’s break into the hotel business came in 1997 when he bought an old police building in the heart of Toronto and built it into a hotel. Today it is the famous Hilton Garden Inn Downtown. His hotel group has grown exponentially since then.
“Three of my four children have MBA degrees, and are part of the family business now. My eldest daughter Reetu Gupta, who is the chief operating officer, has just been named among Canada’s Top 40 under 40,” says Gupta who has been conferred a doctorate by Toronto’s Ryerson University.
“My son Suraj, an MBA from Columbia University, wants to do something different like build life-style hotels. My wife looks after finance,” says Gupta.
Apart from the hotel business, his family-run real estate business, The Gupta Group, has also become top developers in Canada. “We are building a 52-storey building in Toronto.And we are also building two tallest condo buildings in Vaughan (just north of Toronto),” says Gupta.
The sky is the limit for this Patiala man, who today employs more than 2,000 people.