Mr Narayan Dhanuka
June 28, 2020
He’s as devoted a son, as loving he is a father. A successful name in the stainless steel CRF and wagon manufacturing industry, MD, N F Forgings Pvt. Ltd., Mr Narayan Dhanuka is a passionate badminton player too. Get to know him and his success story in an interview with Stainless Post.
1. Take us back to your childhood. How did your journey begin?
I am a native of Bilara, Rajasthan and the business was set up by my father, Mr Murari Lal Dhanuka. Back then my father had travelled to Rangoon (now known as Yangon) in Burma (now Myanmar) in search for better business prospects. However, India-Burma riots struck in 1962, and, like many, he had to return to India empty-handed. The same year, he set up Lal Baba Industrial Corporation, a small factory in Howrah that supplied spares like metal bucklers for jute bags. This was a difficult phase as he struggled with no consistent finance for nearly 9 years.
In 1972, we entered the Railways business and started stainless steel supplying components to prime manufacturers like Braithwaite & Company Ltd., Texmaco Rail & Engineering Ltd., and Titagarh Wagons Ltd. This was also the year when my uncle and two brothers entered the family business to support my father. Later in 1994, I joined the family business after completing my graduation from The Bhawanipur Education Society, Kolkata in 1989 and was guided by my father, uncle, and brothers. In 2002, N F Forgings Pvt. Ltd. was set up to capitalize a booming steel market. We started developing ingots as a major railway component. The Company today speacialises in not just the manufacturing of stainless steel railway components, but also providing complete railway solutions.
2. What are the major changes that you experienced during the course of your business?
While setting up N F Forgings Pvt. Ltd. in 2002, we had a plan to serve the growing TMT market by readily converting scrap into mild steel ingots. Later, with stainless steel proving to be a better and efficient solution, we shifted to developing high end stainless steel components for Railways. Initially, we produced ingots an optimum level. However, with what followed as the beginning of a worldwide recession, in 2007 we shifted our business focus to steel casting and fabrication of railway components. A prior experience of converting scrap into ingots came in handy during this shift.
The year 2008 witnessed a major change in the Railways designs and drawings. In order to increase the life and payload of wagons, RDSO suggested converting the conventional 8 mm mild steel plates to be replaced with finer 5 mm stainless steel plates. In 2010, we initiated in-house stainless steel Cold Rolled Forming (CRF) as well.
As of today, we are operating in 4 major zones that include
- a fully-automatic foundry equipped with induction and arc furnaces and an automatic moulding plant where we manufacture all critical casting for the Railways,
- a heavy fabrication shop for manufacturing end-bodies for Railways,
- a Cold Rolled Forming (CRF) division where we manifest all RDSO (Research Designs and Standards Organisation)-approved railway designs, and
- service industry which has increasingly become our forte for the last 5 years. As seasoned manufacturers of all railway components, we provide complete solutions to zonal railway wagon manufacturers at their premises. In the past few years, we have manufactured around 4000 wagons under our servicing arm.
3. What are the noteworthy milestones of your business?
Introducing CRF was a major breakthrough for us as it not only helped us improve the quality of the product, but also helped cut down costs by nearly 30% when compared to sourcing it. Today, we are running 5 CRF mills. Automating the hitherto manual foundry and furnaces in 2016 was another major milestone that we achieved. This helped speed up the process and further escalated quality benchmarks. Another major success story was introducing couplers for the railway segment in 2019, something that we were unable to chart out for th last 10 years due to market challenges.
Not to forget the key moment six years back when we got our first order from Braithwaite & Company Limited, an undertaking of Ministry of Railways, to manufacture complete wagons at their premises. This marked out advance in the service industry.
4. When and how did your journey with Jindal Stainless begin? What sets Jindal Stainless apart from your entire gamut of suppliers?
As soon as we got our CRF mill registered in 2010, Jindal Stainless was a clear choice for sourcing the metal. The Company was a prime producer at that time and continues to the industry leader with its high quality products and an incredibly proactive team that has always supported us. The Company’s after sales service is to vouch for and so is the promising bond the Company shares with its long-lasting customers. Even till now, almost 80% of our material is sourced from Jindal Stainless. I still remember visiting the Jajpur plant of the Company during its initial phase of setting up. I am glad that today it has turned out to be the largest stainless steel producing facility in India.
5. What is your business strategy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?
We are cautious and are encouraging our people to work from home. For the necessary functions, we are operating out of our plant and factories only twice a week. While we are taking utmost precautions for our family members, we are making sure that our extended family including our employees and factory workers are provided with all means and necessary ammunition like masks, gloves, sanitisers, etc. to fight this pandemic. We have employed a shift system, car pick-up and drop, and are encouraging them to operate on a rotational basis. As of now, we are running at 60% of our capacity and will eventually scale it up to 100% by July. The demand is still very low as major producers like ICF (Integral Coach Factory), Texmaco, Titagrh, etc. are still not ready for large scale production.
However, I am certain that the demand from Railways will regain its momentum and we will be ‘back on track’.
6. What are some of your hobbies? Is there something you do to keep yourself motivated in your business?
I am passionate about badminton and exercising. For the last 25 years, I’ve been regularly exercising as it helps me keeps my body agile and my mind stress-free. Besides that, I love spending quality time with my children. My idea for a successful business is when your family is as prosperous as your balance sheets.