Basil Bacall

Chaldean immigrant Basil Bacall built a successful series of hotels in Michigan, then parlayed his success into help for refugees from his native region. Bacall, who lives in Brighton, arrived alone in Detroit in 1982 when he was 17 years old. He joined an older brother and went to work in drugstore he owned sweeping floors and stocking shelves. Too old to enroll in high school, he earned his GED and soon started college classes. “Mainly I was hungry for education,” Bacall says about his decision to come to the United States. “I really loved the opportunities that the United States could provide. It’s a place where the only limitations you have are your own.” Bacall earned his bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, but classroom studies were just one part of his education. He began flying lessons, and at 21 he landed a job with Northwest Airlines as a baggage handler. He slowly worked his way up at Northwest, becoming supervisor of international reservations, and started working on his days off as a corporate pilot and flight instructor. By 1995, he had logged enough flying hours to land a job as a Northwest pilot. Soon, though, the hectic pace took a toll on Bacall and his young family. He began looking for a business opportunity; he and his brother, Mike, bought a Quality Inn in Lansing. “That was a home run,” he says. “We took a property that was losing money and we really turned it around.” In 2004 the brothers purchased land in Commerce Township and built a 106-room Hampton Inn. It’s now the no. 2 performing Hampton Inn in the state; the top Hampton is in Shelby Township, built by the brothers in 2008. They own two more hotels and several real estate and shopping mall properties. Bacalls various properties employ 145 people. He and his brother’s focus, he says, “is to be the best at what you do. If my job is to clean the parking lot, I’m going to have the cleanest parking lot in my neighborhood.” That commitment to excellence extends to a non-profit organization Bacall founded in 2007. The Adopt-a-Refugee Family Program matches donors with persecuted Christian families in the Middle East in need of basic financial support. The organization, which works with the Chaldean Federation, has helped about 80,000 people and distributed $1.5 million. “I believe wholeheartedly in giving back,” Bacall says. “That is my passion – how do we giveback and help those people in need?”

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