Khan again takes aim at football ownership

Khan again takes aim at football ownership

URBANA — Ironic? A man who made a fortune building parts for cars is now positioned to buy an NFL franchise called the Jaguars.

Shahid Khan, the 61-year-old president of Urbana-based Flex-N-Gate and the apparent owner-to-be of the Jacksonville Jaguars, got into the bumper business more than 30 years ago.

When he found it hard to sell the U.S. automakers, he turned to the Japanese. After supplying virtually all the Japanese truck manufacturers, he began providing parts for their U.S. counterparts in the 1990s.

Today, Flex-N-Gate employs about 12,450 people at 57 facilities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Spain, according to the company's website.

Flex-N-Gate's products have grown to include exterior components, grilles, hinges, latches, parking brakes and pedals.

Khan, a native of Pakistan, came to the United States in 1967, and graduated from the University of Illinois with an engineering degree.

While in school, he worked for Flex-N-Gate, but in 1978, he started his own business. He ended up acquiring Flex-N-Gate and operating it as an adjunct to his Bumper Works plant in Danville.

Later, he opened the Master Guard plant near Veedersburg, Ind., and the Guardian West plant in Urbana.

Today, Flex-N-Gate is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 168th largest private company in the United States, with estimated revenues of $2.57 billion for the previous fiscal year.

In 2003, Khan acquired a controlling interest in Flightstar, the aviation service company based at Willard Airport. And in 2008, he took over operation of the Urbana Golf & Country Club facilities.

Last year, he worked out a tentative agreement to buy a 60 percent stake in the St. Louis Rams. But the deal fell through when Stan Kroenke, who owned a 40 percent share in the team, decided to exercise his option to buy the team outright.

In 2000, Khan delivered a lecture at the UI in which he called himself a "contrarian thinker" in making business decisions.

His advice: Play to competitors' weaknesses, make strategic alliances to maximize your strength and keep information to yourself.

In April, he was one of six Illinois residents to receive Order of Lincoln medallions from the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, making him a Lincoln Laureate.

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

shurstrike wrote on November 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

Congratulations to Shahid!  His "starting at the ground floor" is a great inspiration.  He's always been about his community, and he has one of the most amazing moustaches to have ever graced the face of man.

logicalpositivist wrote on November 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm

"He's always been about his community..."

Uh, yeah, no...the Jaguars are in Jax, FL. That's not really benefitting "his community" (C-U). This is not about his community. It's about toys for big boys.

I do agree about the magnificent mustachio.

Shades wrote on November 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

It is, however, ironic that a news paper would print that lead paragraph.

logicalpositivist wrote on November 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Actually, I don't think there is any irony. Unless, of course, his company produces bumpers for Jaguar vehicles. The Rams might have been more ironic, since the company produces bumpers for Chrysler (makers of the Dodge Ram pickup line).

1time2live wrote on December 01, 2011 at 8:12 pm

indeed Flex-n-gate does some work for jaguar.