Sky’s the Limit with Bashar Kalai
On the 11th floor in a glass walled office overlooking the expanse from the 610 loop to downtown, I had the honor of getting to know Mr. Bashar Kalai, the CEO and Founder of Amerapex Corporation. To know Bashar is to know how his international background contributed to the incredible entrepreneur on target to reach a billion dollars of revenue annually in the next ten years. I also found a man who has made Houston his home and is compelled to uplift humanity, often by contributing generously to philanthropic causes.
Born in New Delhi to a Syrian diplomat, he attended school in Damascus and Dubai. His grades and privileged upbringing could have landed him at any university in the world, butanywhere in the world, but with the Statue of Liberty as his icon—he had his heart set on the US. His family suggested Houston since he had a cousin there. Bashar graduated from UT-Austin with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1985.
The Statue of Liberty wasn’t just an icon. The words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” still inspire Bashar today, evoking empathy and sympathy for those less fortunate. He was so proud to be making the US his new home—the US, a country that offers refuge to all. Bashar met Brigitte at a Walgreens as they were both waiting in line at the pharmacy. He was so thrilled to get her number that he called her immediately from the car’s phone in the parking lot only to reach a wrong number. He immediately went back and persuaded her to give him the right number. Brigitte graduated from the University of Texas in nursing. Persistence, patience and poems resulted in a union that produced two sons, Alex and Remy, both of whom have won national acclaim through debate, tae kwon do and other scholastic pursuits. Alex graduated from Kinkaid and is currently attending Rice University. Remy is a sophomore at Kinkaid.
The persistence and patience is evident too in how Bashar grew a company organically to a couple of hundred employees and global operations in less than 15 years. On leaving corporate America, he said that you just know when it’s time to move on and chase one’s dreams. His technical expertise, global access, understanding of clients and market experience led him to start Amerapex in 2002. He realized that there’s so much more to be made if you can make it yourself. He enjoys the freedom to set his vision and express his sovereignty. With the company structure and culture set, he is now looking for acquisitions to both diversify offerings and expand into new markets.
Regarding regrets—Bashar wishes that he had partied harder at UT Austin, and also, that he’d spent more time with his kids. He laughs while remarking that making straight A’s is way over-rated. He is motivated by the likes of Mandela and Gandhi and is passionate about helping people get out of their cage. Brigitte and Bashar have been married 23 years and have been ardent supporters of St. Jude’s, Operation Smile, Nora’s Home, Pratham, and other nonprofits. His purpose is to help those less fortunate achieve their full potential, and he believes that education is a civil right, a game changer that uplifts the course of lives and can unleash one’s potential.
It was indeed my honor to get to know this Longhorn, and I hope others are inspired by his journey as well.
Photos by Sonya Abid