His dreams of a successful business career and studying in the United States were bigger than the tiny Indian village he was born in.
One of six children, Kuldip Verma grew up in Nabha, a small village located about 160 miles north of New Delhi. The village did not have electricity and running water came from hand pumps.
Since his parents were not educated, Kuldip's older brothers and sisters became a major influence on him, guiding and supporting him to study and better himself through education. In addition to a good work ethic instilled by his parents, Kuldip possessed an innate desire to become a successful businessman.
Today, Vermaland, founded by Kuldip Verma, holds more than 24,000 acres of land in Arizona with a portfolio valued at $500 million. The village of Nabha could fit many times in the acreage he now controls in the desert Southwest.
Kuldip Verma is my father.
There is a difference in simply having dreams and actually achieving them. The missing element for many may be an indomitable will to create the life and career one desires. Kuldip had an entrepreneurial spirit to succeed, a volition that propelled him to business heights he dreamed about as a child.
After graduating at the head of his Indian class, he followed his dream of going to the U.S. to better his career opportunities. He earned his master's degree in engineering and became a principal engineer in Illinois. Years later, my father returned to India to join his brothers to become Director of Marketing for Beltek Electronics, a television company that was the first to bring color televisions to India. Kuldip and his family turned a small company into India's largest TV manufacturer during the 1980s. Beltek was one of the biggest sponsors of the popular India Film Awards shows at this time.
Two traits of successful people is the ability to adapt to change, even when completely switching careers, and exhibiting a natural sense of good timing. Trusting his intuition, in the early 1990s my father moved to Phoenix, Arizona to integrate himself into real estate. At that time the Phoenix Metro area was in the grips of a major real estate recession. He recognized the opportunities, attended real estate seminars, and meticulously studied the area. He purchased his first commercial building at a rock-bottom price. After managing the property to success, he sold it for six times what he paid for it. He began investing in raw land for a simple reason: minimal management was involved. In 2004, Vermaland was the largest landowner of 50- to 1,200-acre parcels in Metro Phoenix. He remains one of the largest landowners in Arizona.
In 2006, as Phoenix fell into yet another real estate recession, he sensed the expansion of the solar industry. Kuldip sold and leased land to more than 25 solar developers from all around the world. In June 2009 the company auctioned off about 2,000 acres, land for a solar power facility. Over the last few years Vermaland has invested more than $5 million in the solar industry. He has become a highly visual and vocal public advocate of solar energy, helping Arizona earn the title of "Solar King."
In Hinduism, Karma yoga is a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred Sanskrit scripture. A simple form of karma yoga is donating money to worthy causes in the service of others. This year, Vermaland created the Verma Charitable Foundation, donating $1.2 million to the charity in hopes of benefiting underprivileged students and establishing a religious retreat center in Phoenix. The foundation will also promote cross-cultural understanding to expose the local Phoenix community to Indian teachings. For this, Kuldip was awarded the 2013 Philanthropist of the Year honors at the Arizona Real Estate Awards.
My father continues to be a major influence in my life, much like his brothers and sisters were for him back years ago in the little village of Nabha. He is the reason I am an ambitious entrepreneur. I have patterned myself after him, going into business and marketing because of his successes.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that a man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
My father is a product of his childhood dreams. Behind every great dream is the dreamer. That is Kuldip Verma.