Mr Ashish Chaudhary
September 16, 2018
“Kharcha kam mat karo, kamai badhao” (translated as, “Don’t compromise on your expenses, increase your income”), Mr Ashish Chaudhary attributes this line to his grandfather, as he reflects upon his inspiring business journey. As the third generation leader born to the reputed Anmol Group, this zealous youngster didn’t contend himself to his family’s business success. Rather, he went on to break all norms and re-design Eastern India’s steel market.
This is the story of Director, Anmol Stainless, Mr Ashish Chaudhary, who proved his worth as not just a successful entrepreneur with commendable business acumen, but also as an exemplary patriot, striving to make his nation self-sufficient in terms of in-house stainless steel production.
From a mainstream biscuit manufacturing big-shot, to a passionate stainless steel producer in Kolkata, how did this journey start?
During the 70s, my grandfather came down to Kolkata, from our hometown Haryana, where he started a business in trading. He then shifted to biscuit manufacturing in the 80s, which has today translated into ‘Anmol Biscuits’ (now ‘Anmol Industries’), the fourth largest biscuit company in India. We have an extended Marwarhi family where my father is one the four brothers. From the beginning, we have had an inclusive businesss model that helped us extend our reach to real estate, cement, finance, and other industries apart from the parent biscuit manufacturing. Me, being the third generation of this family, grew up seeing values like hard work and oneness. This helped me understand the importance of a collective growth rather than fostering personal interests.
I was born and brought up in Kolkata. After pursuing my under-graduation from Nottingham University and Masters from the University of Manchester, I came back to join the family business. This was the time when we were looking forward to diversify our presence in the country. Back in 2011, the market in Eastern India wasn’t exposed to stainless steel manufacturing. It was then that I took up this challenge and set up the first stainless steel pipe manufacturing and re-rolling unit in Eastern India.
When did your relationship with Jindal Stainless start?
Due to lack of production in Eastern India the supplies used to predominantly come from Delhi in north and Gujarat in west. Jindal Stainless was a major supplier with its plant based in Haryana. Around the time when we started to establish stainless steel footprints in Kolkata, Jindal Stainless was coming up with its Jajpur plant. This was a major push for an association majorly for two reasons; first, the ready availability of raw material in this part of the country, and second, I had seen Hisar develop by leaps and bounds due to the presence of the Jindal Stainless’ parent plant in the city. This helped me believe that it was now this region’s time to prosper in the same manner. It further underlined my vision of having an in-house manufacturing capacity in our vicinity, which can cater to the already existing demands and market, which were to further grow in the coming 5-7 years. Today we have 14 pig mills, with a production capacity of 500 tons of pipes and tubes per month, and a rolling capacity of 2000 tons per month. Jindal Stainless supported our set-up as a mentor by providing guidance on technical know-how and immediate machine supplies. Since then, till today, we share a mutually beneficial relationship Jindal Stainless.
During this ambitious journey of yours, what were the major milestones that you accomplished? Where did you derive the motivation from?
I knew that it will not be an easy journey right from the starting. Majorly because we envisioned to set up a stainless steel unit in a region that was oblivious to the existence of the metal. Honestly, there was no need for us to shift from being an established biscuit manufacturing to a novice stainless steel producer. Yet, I signed up for this because I had faith in the product and I was not ready to be content.
It took us 5 years to reach where we stand today. From raw material to production, sales, market credit, and what not, stainless steel is dramatically different from the biscuit industry. Moreover, the demand was also low in the starting days. As a result, initially there were several challenges with our sales to the customers. Apart from this, another major challenge was that people mistook us to be suppliers of mild steel. Even today, we get demands for cold rolled mild steel. We also initiated stainless steel consumption in the furniture market, marking a shift from railings segment, alone. I’m proud to tell you that today the furniture industry is the biggest consumer of stainless steel in India.
Throughout this journey my family has been extremely supportive of all our advents. I count this as my biggest strength. We have grown as a family business with no internal disputes, and a philosophy of inclusive profit and growth.
Tell us about the work culture at your company. As a young entrepreneur, what is your idea of a perfect workplace?
The basic philosophy that we have thrived upon all these years is that we grow as one collective family. This is what we also celebrate as a culture in Anmol Stainless. We understand that it is a give and take relationship, where you treat your workers and employees as a family, in return of reliable, long-lasting progress. We are very serious about an honest and progressive environment, which is why we take serious actions in case of mischievous conduct. We have a culture where our management visits the workers’ families in times of celebrations and pain. We take our workers on annual picnics and outings during Christmas, celebrate Vishwakarma Puja, conduct blood donation camps, all of this to instil a feeling of belongingness among our workers and employees.
In your entire gamut of suppliers and customers, is there something that sets Jindal Stainless apart?
I believe that in India, we are the only company which is connected to Jindal Stainless in several ways. Be it the Jajpur operations team, the commercials team, the job worker team, the pipe and tube, and re-roller segments, or the stockyard manager for the company, we have several business activities running parallel with Jindal Stainless. As far as quality, range of products, and infrastructure are concerned, Jindal Stainless is unmatchable. This is perhaps the reason that the company has a hold of about 80% market share. Moreover, the commitment and delivery of the company is to vouch for.
To top all this up, we admire Jindal Stainless’ philosophy to manufacture in India itself. There were times when the market was in a turmoil, the industry was bleeding, and the financials were not that good. Even then, Rattan Ji’s ability to run in the front and set up a state-of-the-art production capacity in Odisha is remarkable. I also congratulate Mr Abhyuday Jindal for enthusing the business culture with a fresh thought process.
What will be your message to all the budding entrepreneurs out there?
I’d like to quote my set of rules. First, define a vision for yourself. Second, start your journey. And third, keep going. Don’t rely on shortcuts for momentary success. To catch the bigger fish, you have to have that hunger. Define this basic difference between being content and being hungry. Note that this is not greed, but a continuous spree of dedicated efforts to excel. Do this to be able to become someone who can contribute to the larger masses. As is quoted in Gita, “Earn from ten hands, and give with a lakh.” Also, be persistent enough to keep a track of your failures. A healthy mind and body are inevitable for driving success, so be sure to give your body the necessary workout.