Minority Advocate of the Year Featured

9:56am EDT July 22, 2002

When Kamlesh B. Trivedi immigrated to the United States in 1975 from his homeland of India, he’d probably never heard of Miami Valley Punch Inc., a small, Dayton-area maker of precision punch products. Eighteen years later, he became its owner.

Although Trivedi traveled a long and winding path to business ownership, he didn’t go into it blindly. Trivedi, who holds a master’s degree in engineering, sought advice from the Service Corps of Retired Executives, attended dozens of business seminars and spoke extensively with other business owners before taking the plunge.

Apparently, all that research did the trick. Within a year after purchasing Miami Valley Punch in 1993, Trivedi had brought the struggling company back to profitability after five years of financial losses. He did it, in part, by expanding the company’s product lines — a change reflected in the company’s expanded name: Miami Valley Punch & Manufacturing.

In 1996, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce named Trivedi’s company its Small Business of the Year in the one- to 19-employee category.

The success Trivedi has experienced as a business owner hasn’t stopped him from becoming involved in his community. Trivedi is a board member for the State of Ohio Rehabilitation Service Center’s Advisory Council, which creates jobs for people with disabilities.

He is also a board member of the Industrial Advisory Council for the Manufacturing Engineering Department at Central State University, an advisory group member for Goodwill Industries and a board member of the Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee with the Dayton chamber. In this last role, Trivedi was “instrumental in the development” of a new program to provide minority suppliers access to procurement opportunities in automobile manufacturing, says Robert R. Lowe, executive director of the development council.

Trivedi has also found time to mentor other aspiring business owners such as Rom Kedhar, now president and owner of RK Die Casting Inc. in Dayton.

“As I expressed an interesting in developing my own business ... I became overwhelmed by the accounting terms, labor procedures, tax requirements, insurance needs, capital security and many other details of establishing a new business. Kam came to my rescue,” Kedhar recalls in a letter supporting Trivedi’s SBA award nomination. “His advice and mentoring me, another minority, helped me to overcome some of the obstacles and gave me the confidence to proceed in establishing my business.”

In addition, Trivedi has gotten involved in The Governor’s Initiative on Jobs for People with Disabilities, a program which has allowed him to find and hire a blind sales manager, who has provided Miami Valley Punch & Manufacturing with potential sales of more than $250,000, and a quadriplegic systems administrator who has implemented a shop-management system for the company.

Trivedi, who is now a U.S. citizen, is married and has two children.