Mr Tanmay Agarwal
May 25, 2022
“Handling money is more important than earning money” says Managing Director, SB Minerals, Mr Tanmay Agarwal in conversation with Supriya Sundriyal, Corporate Communications. Setting up his Company along with just one team member, read about the inspiring journey of a self-made businessman, Mr Agarwal and his insights about the stainless steel industry. Read about his thoughts on the impact of stainless steel imports in the country, and an insightful message for all the budding professionals, in this issue of Stainless Post.
Tell us about yourself.
I come from a middle-class family that has been in the business of trading in sponge iron since 2003. My father started this business and was one of the biggest traders in Rourkela, Odisha at that time.
I, too, was inspired by him and was always inclined towards starting my own business. After completing my schooling from DPS Rourkela, I graduated from the Calcutta University in 2016 with an undergraduate degree in Commerce. Right after that, I set up SB Minerals in 2017.
I started SB Minerals with just a two-people team, including me, and slowly expanded to a team of 10. Initially, we had to understand everything including marketing, accounts, etc. on our own. I am proud that we have grown our business remarkably in a very short span of time. We are not here to just build a business. We are building relationships. Revenue and profit are the by-products of that relationship. My long-term vision is to own an integrated steel plant by 2027.
What motivated you to start this business?
We’ve been in this trading business for a long time. In the past, we have supplied nearly 23,000 tonnes of sponge iron to Bhushan Steel.
I think it was my curiosity to undertake different things that motivated me to start this business. While we began with sponge iron, its margins in the market were limited. We then aimed to capture a wider market of tire wires in Rourkela as it showed promising potential. Consequentially, we started trading in tire wires and multiplied our customer base significantly. This further boosted our confidence and we have been at it since then.
What are the challenges that you face in your line of business?
Lately, the challenges have increased due to market volatility. The Russia-Ukraine war has had a direct impact on our business. We did not expect the market to shoot up immensely. There is always a scope of doubt while selling the material today as currently the market is destabilized. Additionally, the ongoing coal crisis also has an impact on our trade.
Moreover, the stainless steel imports from China and Indonesia also affect our business. However, since the material they offer is of sub-standard quality, it does not affect us directly. Although, even if there is a slight change in the scrap prices, it affects us.
What are the noteworthy milestones of your business?
We started our business by trading 300-400 tonnes of sponge iron per month. However, our monthly trade now stands at 2,000 tonnes. This is a promising total considering the overall figures. Moreover, we are currently expanding in four businesses – iron ore crusher, ferro-alloys, rice mills, and trading. Our cumulative turnover stands at INR 150-155 crore.
When and how did your journey with Jindal Stainless begin? In your opinion, what sets Jindal Stainless apart from your other customers?
The bar is set high and letting my customer down has never been an option. Catering JSL is more of a matter of pride than business for me. JSL has been a catalyst in our growth and we are forever grateful for the opportunities we have got.
Our association with JSL began in 2018 when we came across an advertisement in a newspaper. We contacted the Jindal Stainless team and realised that the Company was in need of good quality sponge iron and tire wire for stainless steel production. At that time, we were producing 300 tonnes of material in a month. Eventually, we raised our volume and started producing 500 tonnes per month. Our affiliation with JSL has been stronger than ever and we are happy to be a part of this growing community.
The accounting and follow-up processes at Jindal Stainless are commendable. I have always admired JSL’s management. Firstly, it is difficult to set up such a big system. Secondly, it is difficult to then manage it smoothly. However, JSL has been doing it perfectly. I admire that even the tiniest bit of information flows in the right direction at JSL.
What is your message to young managers/ future generations?
Right after setting up my business, I earned a modest INR 30,000 after cracking my first deal. At that time, I had a chat with my dad where he gave me two important lessons. He said that we are in this business to make money. However, dignity comes first, and secondly, the customers’ cent percent satisfaction must be delivered. He asked me to never compromise on integrity just for the sake of making money. And this has stayed with me over the years. He also told me that managing money is more difficult than earning it, which I think, is true.