This week, Patch introduces you to Arash Amini, CEO of in Chesterfield. Amini will be presented with the Living and Giving Award at this year’s Oceans of Hope Dream Gala, hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The gala will be May 7 at the .
Amini's story begins with his father, who immigrated from Iran to the United States. He opened a store in Oklahoma City in 1975. “He didn't speak a word of English,” Amini said. “He worked seven days a week. Eventually, he got a store with five pool tables. Everything started with those five pool tables. Even when he had two stores, he was still going to school at night.”
Amini wasn't originally going into the family game room business. His father discouraged him because he didn't want him to have to devote as much time to running the business as his father did, Amini said.
He decided to become an attorney and attended University of Tulsa to study law and business. One summer, while studying in Europe, Amini made the decision that would change the course of his life.
“I was sitting in a pub, and a friend asked me what I wanted to do,” Amini said. “I said I wanted to be CEO of a major corporation. My friend said that it seemed like my dad had already gotten me started. I realized he was right. I knew then I was going to go into the family business.”
Amini returned to University of Tulsa, got a joint law and business administration degree. He passed the bar exam in 1999 and then went to Kansas City, KS to open an Amini's location. “I was the manager,” Amini said. “I had never been a store manager before. It taught me a lot.”
When Amini's wanted to expand, Amini knew it had to be a bigger city, and market research showed St. Louis would be a good location. He and his father began looking at buildings throughout the St. Louis area. When they saw the Chesterfield location, it was exactly what they were looking for.
“It was a no-brainer,” Amini said. “We signed the contract the next day, and it's kind of our hub now. A lot of our shipments come into Chesterfield and then are shipped to our other locations.”
The Chesterfield location opened in 2005. There are four other Amini's locations. They are located in Tulsa, OK; Oklahoma City; Kansas City, KS; and Overland Park, KS.
Besides inheriting his father's work ethic and learning the business, Amini also saw in his parents the desire to give back to the community and to offer a helping hand to those in need. “My parents are the kind of people who loved helping people,” Amini said.
Shortly after opening the Chesterfield location, Amini got involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Marie Davis, the executive director of the Metro St. Louis/Greater Missouri Chapter of JDRF has high praise for Amini.
“He's a tremendous fundraiser through our gala, golf tournament—and it's not just what he's done for us.” Davis said. “He's involved with about 15 other charities. He gives so much to the community, year after year. He's very young, and he's gotten involved with everyone. That's why he's getting the award.”
Likewise, Amini has high praise for the JDRF. “We donate to everybody, but I chose JDRF as my main one,” Amini said. “I love the organization. They're very committed, and so much of the money goes to research. You want to feel like you're with a great organization. I really like how they do things. How can your heart not feel for these kids?”
Receiving the Living and Giving Award was an unexpected surprise. “It's very much appreciated and I'm very thankful,” Amini said. “I said to them, 'Are you sure?' I'm blown away by it.”
Each notable neighbor is asked a series of unrelated questions to offer us some insight into what makes them who they are.
What's your favorite movie of all time? A Fish Called Wanda
If you could have a conversation with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be? My dad's dad—my granddad. I never met him.
Who was your role model for life? My dad.
What's your favorite book? Probably the Dale Carnegie book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I re-read it every few years.