Jonathan Zizzo

Business

Meet the Steel Mogul With a Heart for Philanthropy

Satish Gupta has given many millions.

Why You Need to Know Him: Because self-starter Satish Gupta has built a steel products empire and has shared his fortune with area organizations—to the tune of $17.5 million to date. The entrepreneur came to the United States after earning an economics degree from India’s Loyola College, with the goal of furthering his education. The first in his family to emigrate, he found what he was looking for at the University of Dallas in Irving, graduating in 1981 with an MBA in international trade. Big players like China and India were just starting to set the stage for eastern international trade; Gupta saw an opportunity and launched SB International while he was finishing his MBA, aided by one of his professors. A leading supplier of steel piping and other products, it has grown from two partners at its launch to more than 600 employees in North America today, with additional operations in India and other Far Eastern countries.

Gupta says his early experiences in India have greatly contributed to the growth of SB International. “Overall, the Asian culture is somewhat more family and friendship-oriented, while doing business is more formal, you become partners first and then you develop that family-friendship type of concept. North America is very much on a professional basis, so it was good to have knowledge of both sides of the equation,” he says. “That has really helped us to build the business to where it is today.”

Ten years ago, Gupta and his wife Yasmin were invited back to visit their alma mater, the University of Dallas. During the visit, he was surprised to see that most of the campus was much like the way he left it back in 1981. He was most concerned by the fact that more than 30 years after he graduated, the university still didn’t have a building established specifically for the business school. “We saw that the business school, particularly, was pretty much neglected and the classrooms were in various different buildings,” Gupta says. “We felt that there was a need for it, especially since we’ve been blessed by our education there.”

“I’m a first-generation immigrant to this country,” Gupta says. “It’s important to remember that we’re not just takers, but givers.”

In 2014, the couple gave $12 million to establish SB Hall, home to the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business, which enrolls around 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students a year and has 17,000 alumni today. 

The SB International CEO is no stranger to philanthropic endeavors. He formed the Gupta Agarwal Charitable Foundation in 2005 and has since contributed more than $25 million to local organizations to advance education, health, research, and cultural initiatives throughout the Dallas area. 

Most recently, he and his wife gave $5 million to Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital-Plano to fund cardiac research and education. The commitment is a personal one: in the late 1980s, shortly after he had just formed the company and was still working to make ends meet, Gupta pulled together enough resources to bring both his father and father-in-law from India to undergo life-saving heart bypass surgeries in Houston. Gupta began working with physicians at Baylor when he became aware of his own cardiac symptoms in 2003. When the heart hospital gift was announced, Gupta called it “a partnership with sustainability,” explaining that “the knowledge gained and shared through research and education would live well beyond all of us.”

Down the road, Gupta is hoping to bring physicians from India and other parts of the world to Plano. “Hopefully, this knowledge between Baylor and other parts of the world can be shared as we keep revolutionizing medical technology,” he says.

Although Gupta moved to America almost 50 years ago, he has never forgotten his roots, devoting his time to preserving culture within the Dallas community. What began as an operation in the backyard of his home, The Festival of Lights, a Diwali celebration hosted by Gupta, is now held annually at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. It’s believed to be the largest event of its kind in the U.S., reporting an attendance of more than 50,000 people. “It’s important to hold on to the culture,” Gupta says. “If it’s not celebrated in some way or fashion that heritage and festivity will be lost. We’re trying to keep it alive in Dallas.” 

The entrepreneur lives by the four pillars of life: family, professional, spiritual, and health. The philosophy helps explain his drive of continuous improvement in education, healthcare, and culture. He believes that balance in all four sectors is important, and dedicates time and energy to each of the pillars—all while being cognizant of his humble beginnings. “I’m a first-generation immigrant to this country,” he says. “It’s important to remember that we are not just takers, but also givers. And that will also help not just our community, but communities in large to have progress and respect for each other.

Startup to Global Force

Satish Gupta founded SB International in 1981. Several ancillary companies have since been added to the family:

SB Specialty Metals
Formed in early 2010 through the acquisition of assets of Crucible Materials Corp., it focuses on conventional and powder metal tool steels and high-speed steels.

Navitas Tubulars
SB expanded into Canada in June 2010 through this joint venture with energy industry executive Shane Jones. Based in Calgary, it provides tubular goods for the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.

SB Precision Machinery Co. Ltd.
Formed in August 2012 as a Sino-foreign joint venture with Yonglijinggong Petroleum Machinery Co. Based in Dongying City in the Shandong Province of China, it makes and sells couplings for the oil and gas drilling industry.

Centric Pipe
Formed in 2014 with operations in Texas and Louisiana, it makes and supplies OCTG and line pipe.

Pinnacle Machine Works
Launched in 2014, the Houston-based company manufactures OCTG connections.

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