Raj, aged 47, was born in Scotland but went into business after an education in his family’s native India followed by a return to England where he cut his teeth working in construction.
After a few years he set up on his own and that step has led to a group of businesses based around civil engineering and a combined turnover of circa £40 million.
Gill Civil has been involved in building and improving major parts of the UK’s road network but its niche market is airport extensions and refurbishment.
The company has just started a £4 million project at Guernsey Airport. It has also been involved in airport civil engineering at airfields in the UK, Caribbean and Middle East.
Aviation based civil engineering involves projects on both civil and military airfields.
The business opportunities in the Middle East has resulted in the setting up of Gulf Slip Form Paving based in Bahrain and already winning work in the oil rich states.
Continuing the civil engineering theme Gill Aggregates supplies materials used in road, runway and airfield apron projects.
Titon Plant Hire is the member of the family of businesses that provides heavy and sophisticated equipment used in modern civil engineering.
Gill also has two Builders’ Merchants in the West Midlands supplying materials to both the professional and DIY sector.
The diversity from construction based enterprises was launched at the end of 2009 with the establishment of Cello Aviation.
Raj acquired a BAE 146 that has undergone a complete engineering and interior refurbishment at a cost of £1.5 million.
Its 46 beige leather seats have already accommodated customers that other businesses would ‘give blood’ for including Royalty, top musicians and performers and well as captains of industry.
Cello has established a particular niche with the cream of football and its clients have included eight Premier League football teams, Champion’s League side from France as well as international teams.
So why has this shrewd businessman spread his wings from civil engineering to aviation?
“It’s a passion,” said Raj speaking from Group HQ in West Bromwich just a stone’s throw from the home of West Bromwich Albion Football Club which is ironically a team yet to savour the pleasures of flying with Cello.
“I have always had a passion for aviation and am confident that we can make a success of something that is very exciting.”
A close look at the Cello aircraft reveals that it is named ‘Frank Kane’ in honour of a man who Raj’s family met many years ago and who became a friend and mentor.
Frank died a number of years ago but his memory lives on in the skies and on the airfields of Europe.
“Had it not been for Frank I would not be where I am today,” added Raj.