Shahid Khan has achieved meteoric growth for his Urbana, Ill., auto parts company, Flex-N-Gate.
The producer of metal bumpers, plastic interior and exterior parts, lighting, signals and metal assemblies posted $8.89 billion in worldwide sales to automakers last year — nearly twice its volume just five years earlier.
It ranks at No. 33 in Plastics News' ranking of North American injection molders with an estimated $290 million in injection molding sales annually.
But the reclusive billionaire, who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team, rarely talks about himself in public, and he almost never meets with the media to discuss his business or his plans.
But the Pakistani-born Khan, 70, participated in a virtual version of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association annual automotive suppliers conference, Nov. 9-11.
He offered the auto industry audience a few observations about the market, his philosophy of business and ideas about how the industry will power through the pandemic.
"I'm a big believer [that] chaos is opportunity," Khan told the industry trade group. "As we've grown, some of the best growth spurts we've had have been when the status quo was getting disrupted."
Khan, who came to the U.S. at age 16, worked for Flex-N-Gate as a University of Illinois engineering intern in the 1970s, according to past press reports. While there, he obtained a $50,000 small-business loan to launch a bumper manufacturing enterprise called Bumper Works.
By 1980, Khan had purchased Flex-N-Gate and combined it with his bumper company, supplying the Detroit 3 and Toyota in North America. In 2001, it purchased Ventral Group Inc., a Canadian plastics molding specialist.
His company today has 64 manufacturing plants worldwide with more than 24,000 employees.