Mr Shyam Sundar Kedia
September 28, 2020
This edition brings to you a rather unconventional success story of Bengal Pipe Manufacturing Company. From setting up Kolkata’s second stainless steel pipe production unit to aiding Jindal Stainless in fighting counterfeiting in the Indian market under the ‘Jindal Saathi’ campaign, Managing Partner, Mr Shyam Sundar Kedia takes us through his Company’s incredible journey; with an interesting and inspiring twist in the story!
Tell us how your journey started?
My Chacha Ji (Uncle) established Bengal Pipe Manufacturing Company in 2013 along with an old friend at the age of 60. While most people choose to spend their post-retirement time playing with grandkids or relaxing at home with friends, my uncle decided to set on yet another challenging journey. Having served the cement industry for nearly 40 years, he was a novice to managing stainless steel business. We didn’t come from a business family and had no deep pockets. Nevertheless, we were motivated by his passion and so we supported him in setting up Kolkata’s second stainless steel pipe manufacturing company. Since its inception, I have supported my uncle in managing the company from the forefront. What’s more inspiring is that he does all the work from behind the curtains and lets us younger ones take charge. This is probably what drives me every day. As of today, we are a leading stainless steel pipe manufacturer in Kolkata specializing in several product variants- round, square, rectangle, etc. We have an annual turnover of INR 30 crore with over 2000 tonnes sales volume.
What are some noteworthy milestones of your business?
We started with limited money, mostly our savings from a lifetime of service. We also faced the challenge of limited knowledge of the industry. Even then, we made bold decisions and established 2 mills in 2013. These units were set up in a rented space. The struggle had just started. In the next two years, we experienced a varied demand in the pipe segment- round, square, rectangular. Moreover, there was a sharp downfall in prices which further aggravated the problem. I believe this was the phase when we realised what we had really stepped into; from an organised payroll job to holding the fort in a dynamic business environment. Introduction of GST (Goods and Services Tax) in 2017, although beneficial in making trade convenient, came with its own challenges as business now became regional play. However, we saw this as an opportunity to establish our presence in the market. We used this time to expand our understanding of the industry and realised the need to cater to a vast product demand. Later, we updated our stainless steel grade choice from JT to 304 based on market demand. All in all, we learnt to adapt as business progressed. In 2016-17, things got better and market revived. This is when we decided to update our machinery.Today, our manufacturing facility is equipped with 7 mills and 3 polishing lines.
How do you define your relationship with Jindal Stainless?
Jindal Stainless has literally played the role of an elder brother. Since our inception, we have relied on the Company for the best quality material and service. Not just that, Jindal Stainless has taken up the responsibility of safeguarding interests of domestic players selling genuine stainless steel products from the counterfeit industry. We are extremely happy to be supporting this endeavour under the ‘Jindal Saathi’ banner. This move has helped us maintain a distinct advantage and build our brand in the market. We are proud of the Company’s leadership and are glad to be a part of this association.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business? How do you see your business panning out in the future?
The pandemic has hit us hard like most of the businesses. While our mills were shut during the period of March to May, we resumed minimal operations in June. As of today, we are operating at ~60% capacity. Apart from logistical challenges and loss of manpower, we have faced financial challenges in the form of paying timely interest, rent, salaries, and other overhead costs. However, Jindal Stainless has supported all its partners by easing material support and credit supply. We hope that we will gradually revamp operations and gain our footing in the market. We had started this company with a humble amount of money and set up operations in rented premises. In the future, we plan to make sure that we own our plant premises. Also, we wish to double our sale volume by 2025.
What is your message for the budding entrepreneurs out there?
I believe it would be wise to share what I learnt from my Chacha ji. He taught me that a person never retires. While it is important to earn for yourself, your family, and the society at large, it is also important to sustain it. For this reason, we should keep working and pushing our limits. Also, remember that you will fail and face resistance. Don’t let that meddle with your focus. Make sure that you follow your passion with sincerity and discipline, and try to make a difference.