Person Of The Year - Digvijay "Danny" Gaekwad Click Here >>
Digvijay “Danny” Gaekwad is a first-generation American entrepreneur and community leader based in Ocala, FL. He is the Founder-CEO of NDS USA, an IT & Cloud Services company, and Danny G Management, which owns and operates various restaurants and hotels.
In a business career spanning over three decades, Mr. Gaekwad has built over a dozen small- and medium-sized companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in diverse fields, such as Convenience stores, Real Estate development, Hospitality and Information Technology, among various other industries.
Born in Baroda, a former princely state in western India, as the son of a Judge and grandson of a Colonel in the Indian Army, he graduated in Political Science from the prestigious Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. He moved to the United States in 1987, after his marriage to Manisha Gaekwad.
Besides NDS USA and MGM Hotels, Mr. Gaekwad runs a number of companies, including DG Hospitality, a hotel and restaurant management consulting company; and Danny Gaekwad Development & Investments, which oversees his real estate investments.
Over the years, his companies have created thousands of jobs in Florida and other parts of the United States, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy. In 2016, Gov. Rick Scott recognized him with the “One Million Jobs” certificate of appreciation for his contribution “in helping Florida job creators add 1 million jobs between December 2010 and December 2015.”
Mr. Gaekwad’s maiden business venture was a convenience store in Orlando, FL, which he purchased in 1987. In the next eight years, he would build and sell a chain of 26 convenience stores across Florida. After exiting from the convenience store business, he launched NDS USA, a medical billing and transcription company. In five years, it became the largest medical billing and transcription business in the world.
Mr. Gaekwad entered the hospitality industry and real estate development in 1997. Today, he owns more than a dozen ventures within the sector, including premium brand hotels such as Intercontinental Hotel Group, Carlson Hotel Group and Hilton Hotel Worldwide. His hotels and restaurants have won many accolades, establishing him as a trendsetter within the industry. He also owns and operates DG Hospitality, a hotel and restaurant management consulting company, which does sales and marketing for hotels and restaurants from inception to operation.
Mr. Gaekwad’s current real estate holdings include golf course lots, hotel sites, restaurant sites, camp grounds, automated car washes and commercial retail sites across Florida. His company “Gaekwad’s Downtown Ocala Mixed-Development” is in the process of constructing a premium hotel and restaurant in downtown Ocala at a site where the historic Ocala House Hotel once stood.
A 350 acre Gaekwad’s Villages Mixed-Use Development is in the process of developing 1,100 residential lots, 300 apartments and a four-acre commercial site at The Villages, FL, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Additionally, Mr. Gaekwad owns thousands of residential lots in Florida and Kentucky and dozens of residential rental condos across Florida. Other projects in the pipeline include a New Holiday Inn Express Hotel, a new Hilton Garden Hotel (which includes three restaurants) and a Tru by Hilton in Gainesville, FL.
Mr. Gaekwad is also in the process of building a new accelerator in downtown Orlando, which will house in Exchange building at the historic Church Street Station. This accelerator will fund hundreds of small companies.
Mr. Gaekwad is a well-known community leader who is very active in local, state and national politics. A conservative Republican, he has supported scores of candidates running for various offices. He has supported candidates at all levels and races, ranging from presidential and gubernatorial elections to city council and mayoral campaigns.
Mr. Gaekwad has been a steadfast champion of small businesses. He has also worked tirelessly to increase political participation among the Indian American community by recruiting and supporting candidates to run for offices at the grassroots, as well as state and national levels. He has founded or co-founded a number of organizations, including the India Association of Ocala, for which he also constructed a building. Mr. Gaekwad also helped construct the United Way building in Ocala.
In the past three decades, Mr. Gaekwad has served on the boards of numerous public, private and nonprofit organizations. He has been a member of the board of directors of Enterprise Florida, Inc., a public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders, since 2009. He is also an executive board member of Visit Florida, the official tourism marketing corporation of the state. Other boards that he serves include:
In the past, Mr. Gaekwad has also served on a number of Boards, including the following:
Mr. Gaekwad has been recognized at the local, state and national levels for his accomplishments in business, as well as for his community service, a number of times. Following are some of the awards and recognitions he has won: