What Drove This Lady to Take the Road Less Taken?
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Zaveri, who is among the few women working in the auto component space, started her journey on NRB’s shop floor (the needle bearing company was started by her father in 1966), where she learned everything about steel. Discussing her brave move to start the R&D facility in NRB, she says, “I had enough engineering knowledge and I wasn’t constrained.
My whole approach was how can I make it possible as against what made it impossible.” She feels European and Japanese companies have huge innovation legacy. “So, if you want to be a future leader, you need to do things differently otherwise you will be a shadow of the original,” she quips. Her foresight to set up the facility paid off shortly.
In 2004, Timken Company, who had newly acquired NRB’s collaborators, approached the Sahney family for the purchase of a majority stake in the firm but under Zaveri’s advice they exercised the right of first refusal and purchased the entire Timken holding of 26 per cent to become a wholly Indian owned company. Today, 80-90 per cent vehicles on Indian street include NRB’s bearing. The total turnover of the company is nearly INR 800 crore. Moreover, it is one of the major suppliers to international automakers like Audi, Mercedes, Daimler, Honda, Volvo, etc. On asking how she managed to build a sustainable business like NRB, she shares, “You cannot bring this kind of profitability levels without coming up with products that other people (competitors) don’t have, so in other words, you need to disrupt the market.”
Additionally, NRB is a people driven company. Zaveri, who is a Wellesley graduate, prefers her junior staff to work as a team with senior members to create a vibrant company culture. “We believe in getting collaborative people onboard who have very little ego, don't mind admitting their mistakes and enjoy teamwork,” she adds.
Presently, Zaveri is looking towards acquiring in the friction-bearing space, engineering services and is likely to set up greenfield project overseas. The company is also open to collaborating with start-ups, but Zaveri is yet to find NRB’s match.
(This article was first published in the March issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)