May 13, 2015
When Salil Gautam came to the U.S. from his home in Nepal, his first job was at a 7-Eleven in Northern California. A decade later, he is now a husband, father and proud Army veteran, preparing to once again go to work for 7-Eleven – but this time, as a franchise owner. He couldn’t be happier.
Gautam is one of three U.S. military veterans to win a franchise store from 7-Eleven’s OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND veterans franchise giveaway. The initial plan was to award one winner, but because of the caliber of applicants, 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto decided to give a franchise to all three finalists. Gautam was shocked by the news. “They already do so much for military veterans, and now they decide to give all three finalists a store,” he said. “This is way above and beyond what I expected from the contest. I can’t believe I won.”
Gautam’s military career began just one year after moving to the U.S. in search of new opportunities. He joined the U.S. Army, where he served four and a half years, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Gautam was routinely commended for his leadership skills and hard work, performing more support missions under enemy fire than any other soldier in his unit.
After the military, Gautam brought those same skills into the workforce, starting a small company and turning two failing businesses into profitable ventures. Although he is grateful for his successes, Gautam never forgets where he comes from. He pays it forward by giving back a percentage of his income to support fellow veterans, and provide for kids in need in his community of Chesapeake, Virginia, where he lives with his wife and son.
Gautam, who was selected as a finalist in a nationwide Facebook vote, is deeply grateful to 7-Eleven and his wide network of friends, fellow soldiers and family that spans the globe. “It is difficult for me to find the words to express my gratitude for your faith in my vision and the support you have given to me and to my family,” is the message he shared on Facebook. “This honor means more to my family than words can express.”
In the midst of celebrating his win, Gautam is also quick to remember the lives lost in the recent earthquake disasters in his homeland of Nepal. “The disaster has already taken more than 8,000 lives,” he shared. “I’m deeply saddened by the loss of lives and property. My heart goes out to the families of the victims.”
We support you Salil! Thank you for inspiring so many with your story and your example – and welcome to the 7-Eleven family!
If you're ready to enlist as a 7-Eleven Franchisee, visit the franchises for veterans program for more information.
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