Speed Of Adopting Change Is The Challenge In Family Business
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Truly following the Marwari tradition of joining family business, Anand Kabra is walking on the entrepreneurial path traversed by his father Shreevallabh Kabra and his uncle Satyanarayan Kabra, while building Plastiblends India Limited, India’s largest manufacturer and exporter of Colour & Additive Master Batches and Thermoplastic Compounds for the Plastic Processing Industry formed in 1991 under the Kolsite Group of Companies formed in 1962. Plastics at that time was a new field and it was very upcoming and exciting.
Though, Anand did nominally join the family business in the year 1997 after completing his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Sardar Patel College of Engineering in Mumbai, he did not take up the responsibilities of management before learning the practical lessons of mechanical engineering
at the tractor division of Mahindra & Mahindra for six months. He finished the Family Manage Business programme from S P Jain Institute of Management & Research during 1997 to 1999. Also, in 2014 he graduated in the Owner President Management Programme (OPM) from Harvard Business School.
Recalling his early days Anand says, “Along with learning the key business lessons in M&M and S P Jain Institute, I used to visit our factory in Daman to understand all the aspects of running business during 1997-2002. After that I started taking responsibilities like handling bigger portfolios and division.”
In Plastiblends his complete involvement really started since 2006 more from the growth perspective where he had to setup a plant in Roorkee, Uttarakhand. There he understood the whole setup and learnt how to grow the market. Since then it’s been his transition into multiple roles and responsibilities.
“I wasn’t with the particular designation for many years as it happens in most family businesses. Until 2002 I was without the designation and moved up as I took on to the President level, to a Director, to the CEO, to the current level as Managing Director” explained Anand. The biggest change that Anand brought to the business is enhancing thoughts and vision of the company, while keeping up with the core family values of humility and patience. Talking about introducing changes in the family business, Anand said “In my case speed was the challenge, apart from that it was not that difficult to introduce the change as my father and uncle are very open to new thoughts and ideas. There has always been flexibility and freedom to execute new ideas and show your conviction. Now, decisions are by and
large taken by me.”
During his stint the BSE and NSE listed and Mumbai headquartered Plastiblends could scale up its number of manufacturing units to four across western and northern region. From two units in Daman in 2006, the company added one facility in Roorkee, Uttrakhand and another facility in Palsana, Gujarat over the years. In March this year the company acquired land in Kolkata to commission a plant in the beginning of 2017-18. With the help of these four manufacturing units, the company will have capacity to produces 1.3 lakh MT of Colour & Additive Master Batches and supplies to more than 100 dealers in the country. Every year the company adds 600 products into its kitty. Under the guidance of Anand’s father & uncle who still continue as Chairman & Vice Chairman, the Company has significantly increased its export destinations to 85 across Africa, Middle East Asia, Latin America, East Europe & South Asia, which contributes to 30% of the total revenue. Having the right mindset for business and employees engagement, currently the company manages a strength of 700 employees.
Protecting the Core Values
Being employee oriented, the group adheres to integrity and transparency. Similar to his father, Anand carries on with the quality of not looking at short term opportunities, but the long term ones. The group believes in sound relationship with customers to drive the business and Anand follows the same with adapting competing qualities.
Fox Pro Legacy to Technological Changes
Adopting the gradual technological changes, the organisation had moved from the traditionally home grown fox pro legacy system to SAP. He was involved in installation of ERPs. In 2010 the company implemented SAP in five months.
Counting the benefits of SAP, Anand says, “There is clarity on single data across the company. The beauty of SAP is as you grow multiple locations it’s the same SAP set across the locations. Now we rolled out Palsana and Kolkata because there is a set system.” Currently it is looking at custom CRM package which will bring in the customer mapping and sales force management. Also, this year he is willing to use more of the business analytics and business intelligence BIBO modules where they will have more business scenario analysis, profitability analysis so lot more simulations will be done.
The company has a five year plan in place. Anand knows exactly where the company should be in terms of top line growth. It is in the process of adding multiple locations, acquiring new skill set of people, installing robust CRM systems, building multiple MIS, new products are in the pipeline and it is actively looking at alternate options to grow organically in the domestic and international market. In the last fiscal year Plastiblends’ turnover was Rs 520cr and it is aiming to achieve Rs 1500 cr by 2021.
Anand states, “Five years ago there was no concrete plan designed, but now we have exact strategies in place to lead our company into a particular direction. I believe there should be a lot of growth initiatives happening. In today’s dynamic market, it’s important to nurture your business, but saying that we have to be on our toes all the time.”
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (June 2016 Issue).