Businessman began company with just $300
By James Walsh
Published: 2:00 AM – 11/28/12
WASHINGTONVILLE — Deo Persaud’s determination to succeed was apparent in the name he gave his business, the Icdi Corp., an acronym for “I can do it.”
With $300 in 1994, he and his wife, Indranie, began the company, a maker of natural flavor and fragrance ingredients. Doing business as Aurochemicals, the company’s 2012 sales top $13 million.
Persaud matter of factly tells his far-from-ordinary story.
He was born in 1963 in Guyana’s village of Victoria, the 11th of Ajodhia and Padmawattee Persaud’s 14 children. The couple owned and ran a family grocery store.
“My parents motivated me to work hard, take risks and always challenge myself to do better,” Persaud said, “and ultimately the rewards will outweigh the risk. My pursuit of success was driven by my fear of becoming a failure. Whenever I feel there is a remote possibility of failure, I work even harder and sometimes through the night.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Guyana in 1987, he found work as a production chemist for the Guyana Pharmaceutical Corp., and then for Demerara Distilleries, one of the Caribbean’s largest rum producers.
Coming to Brooklyn
In 1991, he and his wife moved to Brooklyn in search of what Persaud calls “better opportunities.”
“For the first year I did odds and ends to earn a living,” Persaud said at his office. “I worked as a knitter. Twelve-hour shifts at night. Earning $4.25 an hour.”
Then came a stint as a pharmacy assistant at a Duane Reede’s in Manhattan. “Ultimately I was fired because I was a threat to the manager,” Persaud recalled with a smile. “He thought I knew too much.”
He saw an opportunity ahead when hired at a Brooklyn fragrance, flavor and chemical company.
“I started as a helper at $7 an hour,” Persaud said. “At my interview they asked what I did, my background. They said prove it to us. Within three months I had the rank of production chemist and I was running the product development and research lab.”
Persaud, though, was hardly coasting on Easy Street.
“I worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. I had the opportunity I was hungry for.”
Then an executive objected to Persaud’s overtime.
“It was decided I’d be paid $13 an hour with a guaranteed minimum of 65 hours a week,” Persaud said. “I rode a bicycle and took my lunch to work.”
Persaud, whose ancestors came from India, recalled the writings of Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu sage: “When I ask God for wealth, he showed me how to work hard,” Persaud said. “When I asked God for favors, he showed me opportunities to work hard.”
The chance to be independent came in 1994 when a friend provided 2,000 square feet of space in Brooklyn. The rent consisted of flavors Persuad supplied at a discounted price for the friend’s sugar business.
Persaud launched the venture by investing $300 in a key raw material used to make natural meat flavors.
“The markup on this product was 500 times,” he said, “so you can see where the money comes from.”
Customers of the fledgling business included Snapple and distributors in Ohio and Germany. Sales approached $1 million by 2000.
After moving to Passaic, N.J., in January 2000, Persaud looked to buy a building. He settled on the Nicoll Street location in Washingtonville that was shown by Elisabeth Mansfield of Mansfield Commercial Real Estate in Goshen.
He credited Mansfield, village officials, the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, and the Orange County Partnership with making a smooth transition possible.
A 20,400 square-foot addition was built this year to increase storage and manufacturing capacities.
Persaud credits the company’s success to dedication to quality, payment plans favored by customers, and producing flavors that are natural, kosher and halal.
“And I have a wonderful staff here,” Persaud said of his eight employees. “They’re a good team that cooperates and gets the job done.”