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Family Businesses

With a Legacy of a 120-Yr Old Business House, Here's How This Entrepreneur Keeps Things Interesting

With a Legacy of a 120-Yr Old Business House, Here's How This Entrepreneur Keeps Things Interesting
Image credit: Ambuja Neotia Group.
Entrepreneur Staff
Former Staff, Entrepreneur India
4 min read

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Indian business ecosystem is currently witnessing one of the ugliest brawls at one of the top home grown business empire in the country – Tata Group versus Cyrus Mistry. It only goes to show how challenging it can get to run a family business and pass on the legacy of the same from one generation to another.

Ambuja Neotia, one of the most prominent corporate houses headquartered in Kolkata began its journey decades ago with a simple mission. The Neotia family has been an integral part of Kolkata’s business scenario for nearly 120 years.

Originally from Rajasthan, their forefathers settled in the city some time in 1890’s. Since then, Kolkata has been their home and subsequent generations have been born and brought in the ‘City of Joy.”

Entrepreneur India asked Harsh Vardhan Neotia – Chairman of the Ambuja Neotia Group on how he stays to his roots and yet adapt to modern business etiquettes.

“It was in the destiny that I took up the challenge of building homes and it all started with an assignment to develop a house for a friend of my father. The unprecedented success of our maiden project Udayan drew great attention and in true sense laid the course of my entrepreneurial journey,” he said.

'My father Late Shri Vinod Neotia and uncle, Shri Suresh Neotia started their entrepreneurial career in the mid 1950’s along with their eldest brother Late Shri Bimal Kumar Poddar and gradually expanded business with major forays in trading of Cement, fertilizers and petroleum products.. This was probably one of the first wholly Indian registered partnership firms during that time of the British occupation of India. Relying on their vision and vast experience, my elders then promoted ‘Gujarat Ambuja Cements Limited (GACL)’ in the mid 80’s,'"

Keeping up with turbulent market trends

Maintaining the legacy of the brand amidst market ups and downs amidst changing market ups and downs Mr. Neotia said, “When It is important to remember the importance of building a brand from the very outset – one that customers will eventually put their faith in. It is crucial to build an image early on that can only happen through a rigorous and sincere effort by being original, honest, committed and sensible,”

“The three qualities that we sincerely try to inculcate in our business philosophy are: Integrity, Quality and Experience and fortunately this has paid off,” he adds.

Tackling market new entrants

The Neotias are well aware of the new market trends such as co-working spaces, budget hotel chains and keep tabs of new-age entrepreneurs. “While they are good at their job and are ever ready to expand, they should keep in mind the evergreen principles of entrepreneurship, namely, to value customers above everything else and not to get swayed by short term gains and thereby compromise long term sustainability,” Mr. Neotia said.

Bringing in an outsider

One of the trickiest situations a business owner finds himself in is when he needs to hire an outsider. Roping in someone having the same aptitude and vision is a rarity.

The company, which is based in Kolkata, tries to keep onboard people who have a sense of the city. “We try to keep ourselves embraced with the culture of the city. We always look into somebody who shares the same philosophy. Dedication, far-sightedness, empathy and honesty are the four most important attributes to any professional and we trust on such virtues in our employees for carrying our legacy with same the passion, purity and cultural inclination,” he said.

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