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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Top 100: Khan, Ferguson, Cox honored as top CEOs

The Fort Worth Business Press honored its top CEOs along with its Top 100 Private Companies and Tarrant County public companies at its annual awards luncheon May 31 at the Fort Worth Club.

Awards were presented to the CEOS of private and public companies and nonprofit organizations. Winners were also recognized in categories including Top Family Business, Top Minority-Owned Business, Top Woman-Owned Business and Entrepreneur of the Year.

Industry awards were presented to top businesses in retail, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, construction, engineering, architecture and restaurant operations.

Aslam Khan was honored as the 2017 Top Private Executive of the Year. A native of Pakistan, Khan rose from a childhood of extreme property to become the CEO of his own company, Falcon Holdings LLC, a multibrand franchise company based in Westlake that owns 350 restaurants and has 200 more under management. He was recently selected as CEO of Dallas-based casual restaurant chain TGI Fridays.

Through grit and determination, Khan worked his way up the ranks in food service in Pakistan and then immigrated to the United States, where the best job he could get was washing dishes at a Church’s Chicken restaurant in California for $3.25 an hour. Khan worked hard, observed carefully and adopted a “people-first” philosophy that propelled him to success.

“It’s not about me, honestly,” he said in accepting the award. “It’s about people. I say put the people first, they’re the ones who can make you or break you.”

Khan said this approach has already helped TGI Fridays turn a profit in his first month at the helm despite the challenging environment for fast-casual restaurants.

He also told a story about a recent visit to Washington, D.C., to meet with some U.S. senators and express his views on immigration.

“This is the only country in the world that provides opportunities to people like me,” he said. “If we kill the American Dream, we will be just another country.”

Tom Ferguson, CEO of AZZ Inc., was honored as the Top Public Company Executive and David Cox of Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth was named Top Nonprofit Executive.

Other award winners were:

Entrepreneur of the Year – Kevin Grace, Rising Tide;

Top Woman-Owned Business – Diane Nix, Nix Door and Hardware Inc.;

Golden Boot award – David Garin, BNSF;

Top Minority-Owned Business – Randle Howard, R.D. Howard Construction;

Top Family-Owned Business – Electro Acoustics Inc.;

Top Retail Business – Neiman Marcus;

Top Manufacturing Co. – All Star Corrugated;

Top Financial Services Co. – First Financial Bank;

Top Real Estate – Walsh, Republic Property Group;

Top Construction Co. – Speed Fab-Crete;

Top Engineering Co. – Pacheco Koch;

Top Architecture Award – John Roberts, Halbach Deitz Architects;

Top Restaurateur – Jon Bonnell, Waters Restaurant.

Platinum Sponsors for the event were are Imagetek and Rod Patrick Bootmakers. Gold sponsors were the Kimbell Art Museum and Executive AirShare. Silver sponsor was First Financial Bank. Bronze sponsors were UMB Bank, Morsco, Goodwill and Pacheco Koch. Sustaining sponsor is Autobahn.

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