A Plainview entrepreneur has been named New York State's small business person of the year by the federal Small Business Administration.
Raj Mehta, founder and CEO of Raj Technologies Inc., competed against entrepreneurs from upstate for the honor. He now will vie for the national title in Washington on May 4.
Mehta’s company provides information technology services to businesses and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York State and school districts.
The company was called Infosys International for decades until Mehta agreed to change the name last year as part of a settlement of a trademark dispute with Infosys Ltd., a multibillion-dollar business in India.
Beth Goldberg, director of SBA’s New York District office, which nominated Mehta for the award, said his company has worked with SBA “to expand revenue opportunities by selling to the U.S. government — the world’s largest customer.”
She said in a statement that Mehta has participated in SBA’s 8(a) program, which helps businesses owned by U.S. citizens “who are economically or socially disadvantaged” to win federal contracts. Mehta also used an SBA-backed loan to purchase the company’s offices at 110 Terminal Dr., she said.
Mehta, 64, became a U.S. citizen in the mid-1980s. He is the only Long Islander to win a statewide award in this year’s SBA competition, according to agency spokesman Matthew Coleman.
Mehta said Wednesday that assistance from SBA and others has helped him to “survive, endure and succeed for over 33 years.”
He said he came to the United States from India in 1978 with $6. He initially lived in Maryland and worked as a low-wage accounting clerk for a department store -- even though he had earned two bachelor’s degrees in India.
Mehta studied computer science at the University of Maryland and came to Long Island in 1982 to work for aerospace giant Grumman on software for managing welfare programs for New York State.
He left Grumman in 1986 to start his company with one computer in a bedroom of his then-Commack home. The business now has 65 employees and estimated sales of about $8 million per year, according to the financial information service Dun & Bradstreet.
"I come from a business family and I really wanted to do something on my own," Mehta said on Wednesday, adding he saved six months of his Grumman salary to support himself while he started his company. He now lives in Manhasset.
Asked for advice for aspiring entrepenuers, Mehta said ethics and perseverance was crucial in building Raj Technologies.
"Hard work, honesty and high integrity: those are the key elements, and never give up," he said. "Being persistent always pays off."