Posted 12 months ago in Loop Locals
4 MIN READ - The July Loop Employee of the Month came to America, opened a business, and brings joy to his customers every day.
Pradip Nayak celebrated his first Father’s Day this year. His 10-month-old daughter brings him untold happiness and a reason to take his small business in the Chicago Loop to the next level.
Nayak, 31, is the owner of Sunshine Infinity, Inc., a convenience store tucked away in the lobby of 55 West Monroe Street. Every day at 6:30 a.m., he opens his door before workers gush in and climb up to their office. He fervently greets each person who walks into his store, making them feel welcome.
The road to becoming a small business owner had its trials and tribulations for Nayak. Six years ago, he left his family and friends in his hometown of Palanpur, a small city in India, and joined his wife in Chicago. Being away from home was nothing new for Nayak, as he had experienced it during graduate school. Coming to America, however, was an uncharted experience.
“The first couple of years were tough,” said Nayak. “I had to learn the language—not only how to speak it, but also understand other people’s accents. And I had to adjust to the culture and the food. Plus, I missed my family and friends back home. My mom used to get emotional when I spoke to her over the phone, and that wasn’t easy for me.”
Undeterred by the challenges of his new adventure in a foreign city, Nayak was determined to soldier through the rainy days and achieve the American dream. He got his first job as a cashier at Walmart. From there, he made his way up the ranks to earn the department manager position at the retail giant, where he’d have been able to oversee the operations of his unit that dealt with suppliers. However, Nayak had something bigger in mind—he wanted to start his own business. Intimidated but excited, he and his wife decided to open a store in the Loop, the pulse of Chicago.
“When I started this business, I was scared it was going to fail,” said Nayak. “People I know helped me learn the things I needed to operate the store. Plus, I had a retail experience at Walmart, so all of that helped. And most importantly, the customers and people in this building are so nice. They want to help small businesses instead of the bigger stores nearby.”
In addition to his retail experience, Nayak’s educational background was a great asset. He earned his bachelor’s degree in commerce and master’s degree in business administration before coming to the U.S. Coupled with his unwavering work ethic, Nayak runs a successful store that meets the demand of his customers every day.
“As an employee, if something’s not in stock, I can just say ‘we don’t have it,’” said Nayak. “But as an owner, it’s embarrassing to say, ‘I don’t have it in stock.’ I’ll do whatever I can to give what my customers want.”
Beyond the transactions in the store, Nayak loves to help his customers and has even developed personal relationships with some. Like a friend in need, he offers consolation to their troubles and cheers in their moments of joy.
“Sometimes, customers want to talk, and I make time to chat with them,” said Nayak. “They tell me things they are not happy about in their life, and I try to give them advice so they can feel better. Making others feel better makes me happy.”
When he’s not working, although rare, Nayak likes to explore the outdoors of the Chicago Loop. After a long day of work, he takes the Metra home to Chicago Ridge to spend quality time with his family. The next day, he does it all over again.
“I feel so great to be nominated for the Loop Employee of the Month,” Nayak said ecstatically. “There are so many great people in the Loop, and the fact that I was selected is really amazing. People in India might not know where Illinois is, but they know Chicago. And when I tell them I’m the Loop Employee of the Month in the middle of Chicago, they’re going to have a party for me.”
We are the city that works. And the Loop is at the center of Chicago’s powerful workforce. Chicago Loop Alliance would like to recognize the over 300,000 Loop workers contributing their heart, talent, and tenacity to their job each day. Each month from March 2019 to February 2020, a Loop Employee of the Month will be recognized for being great at what they do, contributing to their community, and inspiring those around them. For more information on award selection, rules and conditions, and a full list of prizes, please visit loopchicago.com/nominate.
Photos by Hummingbird Studios
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