Published February 19, 2013
Volume 21, Number 2

Pandit Lathi Hits the ‘Suite Spot’ with Pleasanton Business Solutions 

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Pandit Lathi displayed a precocious grasp of the value of rental space when he started his first business at the tender age of eight. He was living in a university town in the Midwest, where his father was a professor of electrical engineering. Their house, just a block from campus, had a long driveway that accommodated several cars. During football season, the enterprising youngster would stand out by the street offering discount parking to fans on their way to the stadium.

 “We filled up every game,” Lathi recalls with a chuckle. “I think my parents were shocked at my willingness to stand out there by myself holding a sign. When I think back on it, it was pretty brave.”

Fast forward a couple decades, and the parallels emerge. In 2010 Lathi committed to fill 19,500 square feet in Park Plaza I as he opened Hacienda’s first executive business center, Pleasanton Business Solutions. Two years later, the center's 58 turnkey offices are all occupied, and the four conference rooms and common spaces see regular use.

“This is the perfect situation for a professional services type company that wants to have attractive space and have client visits. It is also ideal for a start-up or as a satellite office for a larger company. We also offer the option of virtual officing, answering phones and providing a professional mailing address for our clients.”

These days, the executive center concept is fairly widespread, but when Lathi got into the business, back in the late 1990s, it was not nearly as well known.

He found out about it unwittingly. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Lathi launched his professional career as an auditor with Deloitte & Touche. It will always be a memorable time for him as he met his future wife at his first audit client, the NorthFace. Still, the initial appeal of working for a prestigious accounting firm quickly lost its luster. Realizing it was not what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, he took an internal audit position at Pacific Bell and started making plans to strike out on his own.

Lathi's first notion was to open a restaurant. He had developed some specific ideas to improve on a cuisine concept that had long been a personal favorite. A good friend would supply the restaurant management experience, while he was going to take care of the financial side of things. A great location, on Solano Avenue in Berkeley, became available, but for a variety of reasons the transaction fell through and he had to consider other options.

It was then that the business broker Lathi was working with told him about a modest business center for sale in Oakland, explaining the concept as being a middleman for office space. “I didn’t even know this kind of thing existed, but my wife told me her executive team at the NorthFace often used these facilities when traveling,” Lathi says. After realizing it was a viable business model, the couple wound up buying the existing operation, which had just 19 offices in a 5,400 square foot space.

Starting small offered the opportunity to learn what is necessary to be successful. The well-managed center provided attentive customer service and made sure to deliver value to the tenants. Five years later, Lathi opened a 13,600-square-foot facility in the Tri-Valley. In 2010 he heard about the perfectly located property available in Hacienda and, with his wife’s support, decided to upgrade once again.

He is very happy he did. “People love the facility here—the location, how modern it is. It has a lot of features that the previous sites couldn’t offer. We have been very well received, and I feel very fortunate to have been introduced to the concept.”

Lathi’s family did not stay in the Midwest long enough for the young boy to grow his initial business venture. His father was offered another teaching position and less than two years later they were settled in Sacramento. It was not the first time the 10-year-old had to make the transition to a new environment. Born in Eureka, Lathi was just a toddler when the family moved to Brazil for a six-year stint.

His memories of living in a foreign country are understandably dim, but a few things stand out. He was fluent in Portuguese, and the more rapid pace of education put him ahead of his peers when he returned to the U.S. He also remembers his hobby of collecting Brazilian comic books, some of which his parents are still storing for him.

Lathi adapted comfortably to his new homes on returning to the U.S., first in the Midwest and then in Sacramento, the next seat of his entrepreneurship. Looking around for a new way to earn money, the 10-year-old found an opportunity as a subcontractor on a paper route. He got up at 5 a.m. daily to deliver the Wall Street Journal to 140 locations in the business districts near Arden Fair. The routes changed over time but he stayed on the job until age 16.

Was he ever tired? “It was just part of my routine,” he replies.

Adolescent life was not all work, however. In seventh grade Lathi discovered skiing through the ski club, which arranged more than a dozen outings each season. He stayed a member through high school, cultivating his passion. He also developed a taste for tennis, playing on the school team and rooting for his favorite professionals on TV.

An above-average student in high school, Lathi was not particularly inspired, opting for two years at nearby American River College before transferring to Berkeley. Growing up in a circle of technology experts, he started to follow his father’s example as a computer engineering major. It was not a good match, but at the same time he knew he had to be really serious about his studies in order to be admitted to the UC system. After the first semester he switched to business administration, which really clicked.

“I was inspired by my first economics teacher. We used to talk about current events after class. I don’t know exactly what he saw in me but he told me I would be really successful in business.”

An avid sports fan, when he is not working Lathi is apt to be shooting hoops in the backyard with his sons, aged 14 and 12, watching sports or news on tv or online, or watching movies with his wife. Unlike his early life, travel is not a hallmark, but he does hope to get away with his family more frequently in the coming years. They have taken Alaskan and Caribbean cruises and are eager to do more. “We all really enjoy the ‘city on the sea’—there is something for every age and taste, every day.” 

One thing not on the agenda is another executive center. “Right now I don’t feel the need to have a second location. There is plenty to keep me busy right here, managing this building,” he says. Lathi has obviously fulfilled his economics professor’s prophecy and is enjoying the success.

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