a life I have enjoyed every day." That life
began in Calcutta, where Mr. Aditya grew up with
six brothers and sisters. His father, a teacher-turned-police
inspector, taught his children the value of discipline
and hard work, he remembers.
cricket-obsessed Mr. Aditya admits he wasn't exactly
a diligent student, opting instead to spend his
time playing a sport that is the lifeblood of Indian
he was good in math and sciences. He also had a
thirst for learning: When he was 11 years old, Mr.
Aditya noticed many Nobel Prize winners were German,
so he learned the language. That came in handy when
he boarded a ship bound for Europe in 1960. Studying
biochemistry in Berlin, Mr. Aditya got by with his
parents' help and odd jobs, from selling Coke at
the city's Olympic stadium to cleaning carpets.
"The food was quite a change," he laughs.
"I used to eat rice and boiled eggs. "But
I had no real fear in me. It was a challenge. I
figured the worst thing that could happen is people
wouldn't understand me." As it turns out, they
did understand him. And by the time Mr. Aditya finished
his degree several years later, it was time for
a new adventure. This time, Canada. "I just
came to North America for a tour -- I had no intention
of staying," he says. But the 24-year-old quickly
found a job working as a lab technician in Toronto,
which had one Indian restaurant at the time.
wasn't long before he met his future wife at a party
hosted by a Christian missionary who knew her family.
(They had moved from India several years earlier.)
In 1965, his wife, Phyllis, had a blood test following
the birth of their two sons, Peter and Paul. (A
sister, Jennifer, was born later.)
Aditya was referred to a clinic across town, which
got her husband thinking about the city's lack of
clinics. Hospital labs struggled to keep up with
demand for testing everything from blood sugar levels
to the presence of rare disorders. Then a local
doctor offered his basement -- in fact, a laundry
and electric train room -- as the site for Mr. Aditya's
dream: a new lab of his own. Lacking the $10,000
seed money to get a clinic up and running, he joined
forces with two colleagues from the Sunnybrook hospital
-- Phyllis planted the idea in the pair's head one
night over dinner while Mr. Aditya was putting the
twins to bed. Working days at the hospital and nights
constructing the lab themselves to save money, the
trio opened Med-Chem Laboratories Ltd. in 1970.
It was a hit, and by 1987 the private company has
ballooned from its original 400-square-foot space
to an operation with 40 locations, 700 employees,
a 92,000-square-foot headquarters, and annual sales
Med-Chem was performing 40,000 tests a day. The
company was also competing head-on with laboratory
giants Dynacare Laboratories Inc. and MDS Inc.,
even doing some rare-disorder testing for its rivals.
"Med-Chem was the leader, the gold standard,"
Mr. Aditya remembers. "We were very well established
at that point." But it's tougher to stay on
top than it is to get there, he notes. Business
started falling off amid ferocious competition and
the economy was slumped in the early 1990s recession.
Mr. Aditya took on a partner, who bought 30% of
Med-Chem. But after several years, that business
relationship was in trouble and Mr. Aditya wanted
the company back. What followed was a fight for
control of Med-Chem that found its way into the
courts. In the end, Mr. Aditya lost the company,
although his partner's buyout offer left him a wealthy
man. Med-Chem, which went bust several years later,
was bought at a bankruptcy liquidation sale for
more than $100-million. "It was hard,"
he says. "The company I created, the building
that I built, the reputation we had, the 700 people
working there, all my locations, were gone overnight
-- zero." But Mr. Aditya decided not to let
bitterness take over his life. "You have to
face reality as it is, not as it was or how you
wish it to be," he says. Nor was he content
to sit back and enjoy his financial success. So
Mr. Aditya jumped back into the health sector and
now has his finger in several businesses.
He is president and CEO of ACT Health Group Corp.,
which is a chain of physiotherapy clinics, and also
is a director for an Indian condom company. His
mornings still begin as early as 7 a.m. and sometimes
last into the evening. Mr. Aditya says he doesn't
mind that schedule, although he regrets not spending
more time with his grandchildren. Looking back on
his life, Mr. Aditya talks about the drive to be
successful that is hammered into many first-generation
Canadians, a sentiment Phyllis shares.
usually have seen the good and bad side of things
so you want to prove yourself," she says. "Otherwise,
why would we leave our country?" Indeed, it's
a trait Mr. Aditya says is missing in many immigrants'
children, including his own. But even he likes to
put up his feet once Friday rolls around, whether
it's dinner at a seafood restaurant or watching
his beloved cricket on television late into the
night. "On the weekend, I'm just a regular
person," Mr. Aditya smiles. "Curry and
rice, read a book, listen to music."
SOURCE : THE