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How these Friends Grew a Small Company Into A Global Brand

Aditya Agarwal and Manish Goenka went to the same school and college and are best buddies like their fathers.
How these Friends Grew a Small Company Into A Global Brand
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Working with the ethos of equal partnership, Priti A. Sureka (45), Aditya (42) and Harsh (41) are all directors and are involved full-time in the company. Goenka’s sons Mohan (44), Manish (43) and his nephew Prashant (44) are also full time directors in the company. Both Agarwal and Goenka’s children had an early introduction to family business right after their school and were inducted in the organization on a fulltime basis right after they cleared their college levels.

Priti Sureka, one of the Executive Directors on the board of Emami, the FMCG flagship entity of the group, looks after major brand portfolios like Boro Plus, Kesh King, Vasocare and Emami 7 Oils in One. Priti also heads critical verticals such as quality assurance, R&D and consumer research. “There were many challenges in my path towards joining the company. However, my father was a constant support and it is because of him that I am here today. He also taught me that it is important to discuss projects with others and get second opinions on products and advertising strategies. Eventually, I was drawn to consumer research”, she adds.

The pain management category that includes popular brands like Zandu Balm, Fast Relief and Mentho Plus Balm is under Mohan Goenka. He also spearheads the pioneering male grooming brand - Fair and Handsome. He additionally looks after the entire sales and investor relations. Mohan, who had joined the family business in 1997 after completing his MBA from the UK said, “Back then, Emami was a small company operating mostly through simple decision making processes. However, even as a small player we had a robust and structured sales system which enabled us to easily scale up.” “The company witnessed massive changes in the last decade and we are moving ahead with time.

Taking big risks like the acquisition of Zandu and Kesh King brands are some of the milestones that our FMCG business has witnessed in the recent past. Also, celebrity endorsements have been our strength since the very beginning and it has helped our brands to establish strong recall in the consumer mind,” adds Mohan. Harsha Vardhan Agarwal, one of the key members of the group’s strategic think-tank committee, handles Navratna, which is a ‘Power Brand’.

He is also in charge of the healthcare division of the company under Zandu Ayurveda. HE, another brand with a male grooming product portfolio with a distinct differentiated positioning of offering innovative products is also headed by Harsha. Additionally, Harsha is also responsible for the functioning of Emami’s internal processes like M&A, IT, HR, Media and PR. He also looks after the group’s solar power business. When Harsha had joined Emami, the company had a regional exposure albeit its growing popularity.

Harsha says, “Emami has witnessed exponential growth over the last decade. When I joined Navratna it was a Rs 7-8 crore brand and today it is a Rs 700-800 crore brand. Today it is one of the most successful brands, with a 60+ per cent market share in the cool oil category,” The HE range of deodorants that Harsha launched had a clear strategy of being unique and different in a segment that was already very cluttered. He roped in superstar Hrithik Roshan to endorse the brand and named its campaign ‘Be Interesting’.

A slew of interesting and very differentiated campaigns in both offline and online media helped to make the brand HE a well accepted and popular brand. While Priti, Harsha Mohan and Prashant are running FMCG business from the forefront, Aditya and Manish are driving the other major business interests of the group like edible oil, cement, paper and bio-diesel. 

Aditya Agarwal and Manish Goenka went to the same school and college and are best buddies like their fathers. Both got initiated in the family business with FMCG but eventually became start-up specialists. “We joined Emami after 12th board and handled varied responsibilities. From real estate, to ballpoint tips, paper, oil, cultivation, cement and healthcare, we have looked after diverse sectors in the past two decades,” says Aditya. 

The childhood buddies have recently ventured into the cement business with an integrated plant in Chhattisgarh that has a capacity of 5.5 MTPA and a grinding unit in West Bengal at a total investment of around Rs 4000 crore. Both the plants have been commissioned recently and the brand Emami Double Bull has been rolled out in the market. Another grinding unit in Odisha is expected to come up soon.

“We decided to enter this sector, as there is a branding requirement, which is our strength,” says Manish, explaining the rationale of foraying into the cements business,” says Aditya. Both Aditya and Manish agree that they need to concentrate on how they can differentiate and position their brands better. Emami believes in the axiom- differentiate or die. “Our speed of working and decision-making is fast and the people working are passionate. These are the strengths we have been able to build upon,” adds Manish.

Along the way, Emami has set up a state-of-theart manufacturing hubs of Ayurvedic drugs and cosmetics in Kolkata, Baddi, Pantnagar, Guwahati and others; paper mills at Balasore and Kolkata; ball-pen tip factories at Kolkata and Ahmedabad; a cement plant in Chhattisgarh and West Bengal and huge real estate projects in Kolkata, Mumbai, Coimbatore etc. Today, a network of more than half a million retail outlets sell Emami products which are also exported to over 60 other countries. 

(This article was first published in the June issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)

 
Edition: July 2017

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