Where opportunity and hard work meet
By Chad Ingram
When they immigrated to Canada from India in 2002, Peter and Dipa Shah had $2,000.
Today, the Minden residents have 13 Subway franchises.
“If you are hard working, then there is very good opportunity for you,” Peter says, explaining why the family decided to apply to come to Canada.
A textile engineer in India, Peter says it was the country’s massive population (at 1.2 billion as of 2013) that helped make the decision to leave.
“There is a lot of competition,” he says.
The Shahs spent about 15 months in Scarborough before making their way to Haliburton County.
“We were looking for something to buy,” Peter explains.
There was an opportunity to purchase a Subway franchise in Mississauga, or one in Minden.
The Shahs chose the latter.
“In Mississauga, the price is very high, rent is very high,” Peter says.
As immigrants without established credit ratings, it was difficult for the Shahs to get a loan the traditional way.
“Not a single bank is ready to lend money,” Peter explains.
However, the federally funded Haliburton County Development Corporation was prepared to take that leap, providing a loan to springboard the business.
“At that time, we didn’t have any resources to get money, so thanks to [HCDC executive director] Andy Campbell,” Peter says.
Today, the Shahs own 13 Subway franchises, having purchased three this past summer.
Along with the original Minden store, they have shops in Haliburton, Gravenhurst, Coboconk, Lindsay, Oakville, Mississauga and six in Peterborough.
Peter says Subway is a good franchise because the food is healthy and it’s a relatively easy operation.
“Customers get the value out of their money,” he says. When they moved to Minden in 2004, the
Shahs’ three children – two daughters and a son – were enrolled at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School and Archie Stouffer Elementary School.
While the kids are now living in Peterborough, Mississauga and Waterloo, respectively, the Shahs are happy at home in Minden.
“It’s a nice community,” Dipa says. “Nice people.”