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Immigrant Entrepreneur: Thankful for Opportunities in the U.S.

In 1978, Eric Roudi came from Iran to Massachusetts to attend college. But when revolution broke out in his native country, Roudi was forced to strike out on his own in the U.S.  

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For this week’s Salute to American Success, we talked to Roudi about his growing franchise business, OpenWorks, a facility maintenance services company – and what he’s thankful for as an immigrant entrepreneur.

“When I graduated, I had to figure out something to do … Through franchising, I could tap into my entrepreneurial spirit,” Roudi said.

So after receiving his degree from Tufts University, Roudi set off for Phoenix, Arizona, and started developing a plan to enter into the commercial cleaning business.

“When you walk into a McDonald’s, everything was uniform. I wanted to bring some uniformity to a fragmented industry,” Roudi said. After launching OpenWorks, Roudi sold his first franchise in 1984.

Now more than 30 years later, Roudi has grown OpenWorks to include 350 franchises in the country. He says the business is doing roughly $35 million annually in revenue and is adding as many as 70 new franchises each year.

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With a prestigious degree under his belt, Roudi said he didn’t face too many challenges as an immigrant. But he did encounter the many hurdles that face all new entrepreneurs, regardless of where they’re born.

“I had no clue what I was doing – I was 20 years old when I graduated from school! It’s difficult to be able to establish credibility at that age with vendors and employees,” Roudi said. “But I worked my way up from that and didn’t take no for an answer.”

And according to him, there’s no better place to start a business in the United States.

“I’m thankful for everything that this country has to offer. This country offers the chance for anybody from anywhere in the world, from any walk of life, to become successful,” Roudi explained. “This country is not run by nobility, and it’s not based on where you came from or who your father was or mother was.”

“It’s based on hard work, and there’s no better environment in the world to nurture that kind of spirit.”

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