I’m in Dudley, West Midlands today and I’m with Jaspal Singh who’s kindly agreed to do an Up Close & Personal interview. Good morning Jas.

JS: Good morning.

AS: So, Jas, who are you? Tell us all about yourself.

JS: I’m many people. There’s the family side of me which is most important. Born in Wolverhampton, married in 1970 with a set of twins who are 10 months old now. I look after my mum and dad at the house. So, family wise that’s me. I’ve got 2 brothers and a sister.  I run a few businesses. I’ve never had a job. I started off in shops, retail stores and worked since I was 18 in stores rather than go to university or college and decided to buy a business.  Worked for a year, made a bit of money and thought that was easier than going to university, so from there on in we started buying more shops. After a few years got bored. Had a few life events. First wife etc. From there I bought another business, a removals business. Did that for 3 or 4 years and also bought a furniture business as well, selling sofas. I was in there for year. I was buying commercial estate as well. I bought a sandwich van but didn’t do the business because I couldn’t get the licence, so I ended up selling it and made some money on that. And then I guess just working in the shops . . .That was my life. For the last 4 or 5 years it’s been working in the franchise CEX. I’ve got a few stores and I aim to grow those, but that’s basically what I’m doing. I’m sure I could throw a lot more things in there but overall, I’m a person that likes making decisions.

AS: You mentioned the shops, so how many have you got currently at the minute?

JS: Three CEX stores then a couple of off licences with properties connected to those.

AS: So, a little retail empire on the build there then. Where are you from Jas?

JS: Born here in Wolverhampton. My parental roots come from the Punjabi in India and we’ve got places there as well. We’ve got a house and some farmland, and we actually run a school in India, so that’s another thing we do.

AS: You’ve got a school?

JS: Yes, with about a hundred kids. It’s on the property that we own, and we basically help support that.

AS: That’s fantastic.

JS: So, as I say, it’s giving back to something where my mum and dad came from.

AS: Amazing. . . So, tell us about your wife and kids then.

JS: My wife’s name is Gagan, we’ve been married for 10 years, she’s from India and is a happy go lucky kind of a person. That’s what liked about her. Not too serious.  Always had a smile on her face and still has. She’s a little more tired with the twins now but she’s loving every minute of it. We waited 10 years to have children and eventually a miracle happened. I’m so happy about that. My two kids are called Aarin and Aarvi. Both girls.

AS: How old are they?

JS: Ten months old. . . . Two monsters in the making.

AS: You’ve certainly got your hands full. . . So, what inspired you to start your own business before the kids came along?

JS: I guess it was a simple decision. I was in college and one day my dad was looking through the Express. We did have an off licence at this stage, so I’d been in business since I was 11. We had a butcher’s shop before that, and I used to cut meat in there. I didn’t really know any other way. And then when I was 18, we had an opportunity to buy a shop but at the same time we had the opportunity of me going on to college or university. I’d just finished 9 O Levels so I could have followed that route but then I bumped into a friend of mine who’d just finished a degree. I asked him what he was doing with a degree and working in MacDonalds. I don’t know what happened then, but I just thought, I’m not going to work in MacDonalds. So, I decided to buy the business. I’m not going to spend 5/7 years of my life and end up in a place like that. I’d rather do it for myself.

AS: Do you know what happened to that guy?

JS: Yea, he’s married, he’s got a job and children. He’s living his life.

AS: And did the degree help him at all?

JS: I think he could have used it more wisely but I’m not the kind of person to tell anybody what to do. It’s their life journey.

AS: So, what motivation drives you on a day to day basis nowadays?

JS: It’s just improving. . . Knowing that I can be a little bit better every day. If I’m not, I either move forward or I’m dying. I have that philosophy. If I can’t learn something new, meet somebody new, do something. Sometimes it ends up as mistakes, but I just add a little more to myself every single day. For me, that’s important.

AS: Sure. So, if you could define success for you, how would you define it?

JS: Being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, how you want, with who you want.

AS: So total freedom of choice then?

JS: It comes down to that, I guess.

AS: It’s a great philosophy. So, if I gave you 3 wishes today, what would you use those wishes on?

JS: To be able to understand the things I don’t understand. To meet more great people that I can learn from and just relax a bit more and not to take life so seriously.

AS: Do you take life seriously?

JS: I can do, but not as much as I used to. Even more, just knowing that in a hundred years it’s probably not going to matter what we’re doing right now. I learn something new every day and just want to leave a great legacy.

AS: So, who is your biggest inspiration Jas? who or what is your biggest inspiration?

JS: I guess I’ve got to go through the years and say I’ve got to give a lot of this to my dad. My dad is the one that worked from basically nothing, he worked 27 years in a factory. He used to come home with his hands bleeding and never used to moan. He’d be ill but would still go back to work and basically just gets on with it. I’ve got all these other characters in history that I can learn from in the books but the one that’s affected me most is my dad. He just shuts up and does things. Sometimes they come off and sometimes they don’t, but he doesn’t moan about it, he just carries on.

AS: So, what’s the one best bit of advice you could give, or you’ve been given in the past?

JS: Keep on making decisions, sometimes you’re going to be right and sometimes you’re going to be wrong, but that’s life. Once you stop making decisions, you get stuck. And persistence goes with that as well.

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