Digvijay “Danny” Gaekwad is a first-generation American entrepreneur and community leader based in Ocala, FL. He is the founder and CEO of NDS USA Information Technology, an IT firm, and Danny G Management, which owns and operates restaurants and hotels.
In a business career spanning nearly 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 industry and information technology, among other areas.
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 Information Technology and MGM Hotels, Mr. Gaekwad runs a number of companies, including NDS Global, which provides IT solutions; 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 Global, 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, 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.
350 Acre Gaekwad’s Villages Mixed-Use Development is in the process is 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. Which 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 cofounded 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:
- Member of the board of director, Florida Chamber of Commerce, a hundred-year-old trade body that promotes a business friendly climate and jobs creations in the state
- Chairman, Marion County Visitor and Convention Bureau
- Chairman, Marion County Tourism Development Council
- Vice Chairman, Marion County Planning and Zoning Commissioner
In the past, Mr. Gaekwad has served on a number of boards, including the following:
- Space Florida, the agency in charge of aerospace economic development in the state
- Independence National Bank, which provides various banking products and services
- Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, which was once the fifth largest mortgage company in the country.
In the past, he has also served on the advisory boards of Center State Bank and Horizon Bank. Additionally, Mr. Gaekwad is a member of several nonprofit and trade groups, including the Lions Club. He was also a member of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
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:
- Asian American Hotel Owners Association Chairman’s Award. (AAHOA is the largest trade group of hotel owners in the world and its members own every second hotel in the United States.)
- “One Million Jobs” certificate of appreciation from Gov. Rick Scott for “helping Florida job creators add 1 million jobs between December 2010 and December 2015.”
- Lion of the Year Award
- Leaders Leader Award, Marion County
- Community Service Award from the Federation of Indian Seniors Association of North America (August 2017)
- Pride of India Award 2017
- Glorious India Chairman’s Award 2017