Indian native Kamlesh Bhikha grew up in an entrepreneurial family. His grandfather was a sugarcane and cotton farmer and his father manufactured diamonds, selling the gems he’d fashioned from rough stones. Bhikha also aspired to be his own boss. “The harder you work, the more you reap,’” he says. “And that’s how I ended up as the managing partner of Rodeway Inn.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting back in India, Bhikha went to work for his father. In 1987, on a business trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, he became enamored with America. He eventually settled in Maryland and landed a bookkeeping position with the Howard County Social Services department. “This is back when we only worked 35-hour weeks,” he says. So he took a second job at a Howard Johnson, working his way up from desk clerk to general manager.
In the hotel business, Bhikha saw the opportunity he’d been waiting for. On Christmas day in 1992, his uncle, who had recently purchased a Rodeway Inn in Corpus Christi, invited Bhikha to become his partner. “That was my Christmas gift, and a very powerful opportunity,” Bhikha says. In 1993, he became a United States citizen and moved to Texas.
The Corpus Christi Rodeway employs around 20 people, all of whom are U.S.-born Americans, and it serves up to 5,000 guests each month. “I have a people personality,” Bhikha says. “I’m always on the front line. I know every single employee’s name. I shake hands with my guests. Interacting with so many people gives you different ways of thinking.”
Bhikha’s engagement also extends beyond the hotel. He’s a member of Leadership Corpus Christi, a United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce-led community-building initiative. He also serves on various boards, including the Westside Business Association, the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Early Scholars Academy, the Texas System of Education Service Centers, and the local YMCA—where he teaches yoga.
I’m interested in improving the quality of life for all citizens of Corpus Christi.”
“I’m interested in improving the quality of life for all citizens of Corpus Christi,” Bhikha says. “With physical fitness and an education, you can do anything. So I give back to the community in all these ways.”