IACCGH’s 2017 President Allen Richards, Strong Supporter of the Chamber’s Mission

Allen Richards Photo: Bijay Dixit

Allen Richards
Photo: Bijay Dixit

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: In 2005, Allen Richards was tasked with developing the market for a direct Continental flight from Newark to New Delhi. One of his first recourses was to tap the Indo American Chamber of Commerce for information about business travel and tourism in India. Continental began its nonstop flights to India and so did Allen’s relationship with the Chamber. He joined the Board in 2007 and in 2016 was unanimously voted to be President for the following year.

The honor of being the first non-Indian President and the fact that “something this big doesn’t come along every day” had Allen agreeing.  According to Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia, Allen has always been a strong supporter of the Chamber’s mission in promoting Houston’s economy and his Presidency in 2017 elevated it to higher levels of success and goodwill.

One of his primary goals, Allen emphasizes, was to put out a memorable and impactful Gala as it is the Chamber’s signature event. It was certainly memorable, he explains wryly, for two reasons. Hurricane Harvey battered Houston that very weekend. The gala had to be cancelled but Allen says he was incredibly proud of how everything was rescheduled from Keynote Speaker Bob Patel’s assent to Mayor Turner and Judge Emmett agreeing to the new date to getting the same banquet hall at the Hilton Americas – all in 24 hours. The rescheduled gala drew over 800 members of Houston’s business community and was a resounding success.

Allen was equally focused on hosting speakers that were topical, relevant and of value to the wide spectrum of members as well as reaching out to millennials and engaging them with the Chamber’s activities. Distinguished Lecture speakers included Police Chief Art Acevedo, Sheriff Ed Gonzales and Shell VP Lori Ryerkerk.

Drawing lessons from working with an “incredible brain trust and community leaders” Allen describes the experience as enriching and adds that despite being in sales for years and involved in many projects, one “can’t help but learn something new about teamwork and human nature.”

Allen’s parents were avid collectors of Asian art, which probably explains his fascination with everything Asian. As luck would have it, he walked into a job in the airlines where he got to indulge his love for adventure and travel the world for the last 30 years.  His visit to Mumbai, he says, had a sense of feeling “right at home” the minute he got off the plane. His favorite Indian dish? Chicken vindaloo.

As Sales Manager for International Sales at United, Allen keeps busy flying the friendly skies. On the ground, he’s actively involved with several non-profits but a cause closest to his heart is Houston K-911, which rescues canines in distress. His wife and he have 5 dogs of their own and it isn’t uncommon to find a couple of foster dogs keeping them company too. This desire to give back, he explains, comes from his father who instilled in him the art of gracious giving – without expecting anything in return.

As for his plans moving forward, Allen is keen to continue working with the Chamber to forge closer ties with the business community in his capacity as Past President.