Our Clever Chhap!

It is perhaps quite fitting that our fuel scheduler Kunal Chhapia was born in the city that holds THE largest oil refinery on Earth. The vast Indian city of Jamnagar is actually known as the de facto petroleum hub of the world. Kunal ‘three degrees’ Chhapia (as we like to call him!) is a rather studious man. After interviewing him, it is clear that his passion in life is learning, to gain as much knowledge and information as he can get his hands on. It was his inspirational 7th-grade teacher Mr.Tarak who changed his approach to education.

Passion For Learning

Kunal left his hometown at 16 to go to study in Pune (known as ‘the Oxford of the East’) and then Bombay where he studied Biotechnology. As part of his internship, Kunal had to analyse DNA samples from crime scenes for forensics. He then gained another degree, this time in Marketing and Finance. He was selected to go to East Africa to work on a project, where he promoted agricultural products for the Export Trading Company (ETG). “It was an exciting place to live,” he said, “but we had to keep our wits about us, as we were in a high-risk area.” One time, when his parents visited him, his mother was actually held up in his kitchen by a man holding a gun to her head! “My mother was lucky and managed to get away without being harmed,” he said.

He was inspired to move to Perth because of Curtin University and also his brother-in-law Kush Doshi (who was working for Boral WA at the time). With his credentials, he studied for a Masters in Commerce Logistics and Supply Chain Management. His rather clever wife, Neha, has two degrees and they are both currently studying for a further one, in Data Science.

“Thankful To My Parents”

“I thank my father for all his teachings and life learnings,” he said. “For almost every decision I make, I ask myself, what would my dad do if he were in my shoes? I try to be like him, he was a remarkable man,” he smiles “And for my mother, I thank her for all the opportunities.” It was Kunal’s mother who pushed him to explore the world. “I was a shy child, and it was my mother who made me face the world and told me that there is no better teacher than the experiences life will give you.”

It is here where we must mention the tragic circumstances of how Kunal lost both his parents. In 2019, after a long battle with cancer, he lost his beloved mother. Then, October 2020, within only a short time of being admitted to hospital, his father tragically died from COVID-19. Kunal was incredibly close to both his parents, and he and his brother have since also lost two of their uncles to this terrible virus. It has been an absolutely harrowing time for the 35-year-old, made worse by the fact that he could not attend his father’s funeral due to the travel restrictions. Yet with all this on his shoulders, our man still keeps working and still keeps his happy-go-lucky persona.

KEE Fuel Business Boom

Kunal became part of the KEE family in 2017 when the fuel side of the company was just starting out and was averaging 50,000 litres of fuel a month. Roll on another four years and Kunal and KEE Fuel Manager Leigh Hayward have now grown the business to 1.4 million litres! “Leigh has been my mentor,” he said, “He throws me in at the deep-end sometimes to push my decision-making- and it works! And I’ve learned in building a company you must have patience. As Walter Elliot said ‘Perseverance is not a long race. It is many short races, one after the other’. This is so very true.”

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