6 Self-Made Immigrant Millionaires – Dream Chasers Part I
The immigrant population of the US is made up of people from diverse backgrounds. They account for 13% of the nation’s population, and have contributed significantly to the diverse way of life that now exists in the country. These immigrants left their homeland in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones. With America being well known as the land of opportunity, this is the country that many have chosen to make their new home. These dream chasers settled down to what would be for many a hard life, starting at the bottom and working their way up the ladder until they became self-made millionaires.
This will be a series of articles looking at six of America’s self-made immigrant millionaires, and their journey to copping the American Dream.
The first immigrant millionaire we will look at is Jamaican born Lowell Hawthorne.
Coming from humble beginnings in his native country, Jamaica, Lowell Hawthorne arrived in America in 1981 as a 21 year old young man with a dream quite different from the one that has made him into a millionaire. His intention was to work for a year and return to his home country with enough money to buy himself a coaster bus. The cost of the buses back then was $250,000, which earned them the name “quarter million” buses by the locals. Owning a “quarter million” was, at that time, the dream of many Jamaicans who wanted to enter the field of transportation.
Hawthorne landed a job with the New York Police Department, and he pursued some studies at the Bronx Community College where he earned an associate’s degree in accounting. He was then promoted as an accountant, but his vision of someday becoming a successful entrepreneur grew even more.
Back in Jamaica, Lowell was exposed to entrepreneurship as his father operated a bakery. He began to dream of getting a Caribbean-themed, family run eatery up and running. He approached his sisters and seven brothers, who were also US immigrants, with the idea. They bought into the it, but were hampered on one hand by the reluctance of the banks to loan money for those types of restaurants, as there was a high failure rate in that area and on the other, by their lack of personal assets to secure such a loan.
The Beginning of a Dream Business
The manifestation of his dream business began in 1989 when he and his siblings raised $107,000 after taking out second mortgages on their homes and borrowing from family members. They opened the first Golden Krust restaurant in the Bronx that year. The Jamaican patties they produce have since become a staple in New York. Three years later, in 1991, Hawthorne, who was still working with the NYPD, resigned from his job to work at the restaurant full time. He received his citizenship the following year.
Since that first restaurant opening, Hawthorne’s dream business grew into a franchise. There are now over 120 Golden Krust restaurants in nine states along the East Coast, employing over 1600 people. One of this self-made millionaire’s philosophies is that opportunities are missed if one does not take risks. His venture into business is certainly one risk that was worth taking, as the company generated revenue amounting to $100 million in 2011. That success did not stop Hawthorne from thinking even bigger. He related that there were plans to expand the company’s business into the production of cooking sauces.
Lowell Hawthorne and his dream business, the Golden Krust restaurants have been featured in major publications such as, The Washington Post, Black Enterprise Magazine and the New York Times. Back home in Jamaica, he was awarded the prestigious local prize, The Observer Business Leader for 2010.