Business is good, but family means everything to Rocky Mehta. Rocky Mehta and his wife, Kim, own and operate West Penn Hardwoods, a major supplier of domestic and exotic hardwoods. As part of a worldwide woodworking network, their business travels take them to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Brazil as well as all over the globe—and the beautiful thing is that they can do it together! In March 1995, Rocky and Kim leapt into the hardwood business with their first retail store. The two had met a few years earlier in New York where Rocky was working as a bartender. Born in India, Rocky was selected for a coaching position with YMCA’s Camp Sea Gull program while studying at Delhi University. He was planning to return to India for studies after the program. “I hadn’t planned on staying,” he admits. “But then I met my wife.” Rocky says he knew from the moment Kim first walked through the restaurant as a customer “that she was special.” Married in 1993, the couple decided to move to the quaint town of Olean, New York, to be closer to family. Rocky left behind a career in hotel restaurant management because “working evenings and weekends kept me from seeing my wife and kids.” That’s when Kim’s father, a domestic lumber exporter, suggested a hardwood retail business. In the beginning, the company offered only the standard domestics like red oak, white oak, cherry, ash, maple, walnut, and hickory but eventually branched out to exotic hardwoods. The company prides itself on offering the largest variety of exotic woods in the entire USA. For over 21 years, the couple operated the business in Olean, but back-to back brutal winters and rising transportation costs inspired the Mehtas to make a life-changing announcement: they were moving their family, employees, and business to the South. They decided on North Carolina, not only because of the mild winters, but also because its strategic location allowed them to take advantage of a number of ports, including Charleston, Savannah, Miami, and Panama City. The family settled in the Lake Norman area after purchasing a former furniture factory in Conover. In 2015, the Mehta family joined the Lake Norman community and purchased a lakeside home in Denver. Rocky, who says he hated New York winters, appreciates living in a place where you can enjoy being outdoors most of the year. Daughter Allison graduated from UNC Charlotte this past spring and is currently working for the family business; their other daughter, Priya, will be a junior at UNCC this fall, while son Abhi is looking forward to his senior year at East Lincoln High School.
West Penn Hardwoods, Inc.
AGE: 52 HOUSEHOLD: Wife Kim and son Abhi LKN TOWN: Stanley
Their business requires some international travel, and the couple enjoys discovering exotic locations together. Rocky believes it’s important to have a work/life balance. “We all have to make money to make a living,” he says, “but family is everything. If you don’t balance things and have some fun, what’s the point of making money?”
| AUGUST 2018
By: Antionette Kerr
Lake Norman Woman Magazine - August 2018