Pepsi, Limca, Thums Up, Maaza et al are the usual names that come wherever there’s a discussion on popular soft drink in India. Many would think creating such huge brands can only be possible for a multi million dollar company that has its foundation in the west. Well, if you nurture similar beliefs then it will be pleasantly surprising for you to know about a man whose vision and hardwork has won him the sobriquet of “The Cola Man of India”.
He was only 22 when he undertook the gruelling task of transforming his loss-making family business into a brand that now enjoys worldwide recognition. This story is up for grabs for everyone who want to set up their own business.
Creating a Rs 1,800 Cr giant
Back in 1962, a 22-year-old young man had to reluctantly return to his homeland India after graduating from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It wasn’t his first choice but his family business back in Mumbai was crumbling down and the responsibility to revive it and improve his family’s financial condition fell on his shoulders. It was his vision and will to succeed that not only pulled the business out from pits of debts but also establish it as a glorious name across the globe.
The man under spotlight today is Ramesh Jayantilal Chauhan, managing director of Rs 1,800 crore-worth Bisleri International Private Limited. It was under his leadership that brands like Gold Spot, Thums Up, Maaza ruled the Indian markets for over three decades. He built these brands from scratch and became one of the biggest names in the corporate world of this country.
Series of struggles
In June of 1940, Ramesh became the fourth born to a businessman father. Way back in early 20th century, Ramesh’s grandfather Mohanlal left his village Padri in Valsad of Gujarat at the age of 12 to go to Mumbai and learn the art of stitching. He survived the harsh realities but never lost his focus from his art and gave everything he had it in him to excel. He managed to save a decent amount to buy a piece of land in Vile Parle which later became the foundation for Parle Industries.
Ramesh began his education from a Gujarati medium school and went to Gwalior for high school. At the age of 15, he left for Boston and graduated from MIT. Ramesh had an eye for detail and loved to study businesses from close quarters. He made a blue print for a roti maker in 1963 that could make 60 rotis in just one minute however, this didn’t get beyond his college project. Before he headed back to his homeland after finishing his engineering Ramesh visited a couple of companies that made biscuits, soft drinks etc. This gave him an insight to the technological advancement that was taking place in the food and beverage industry.
Back to Bombay
He came back to India and joined the family business but the falling health of his firms got Ramesh to try something new and this is how the family got into the business of soft drinks – under the leadership of this young man who has just stepped into the real world after finishing his education. His father’s desi strategy teamed up with Ramesh’s technical know-how and began inching towards what will soon be a storm that swept off Indian consumers and market.
The year of 1977 became the golden year for Ramesh when some circumstances lead to India ban Coca Cola drinks. Ramesh knew this was the right opportunity and made the most of it by introducing cold drinks viz. Gold Spot, Thums Up, Citra, and Maaza. It was a brilliant strategy and captured every age group and varied consumer taste. Within no time Ramesh’s company was ruling the corners of the country. However, Coca Cola returned in the 90s with liberalization and bombed our brand guru with a series of challenges.
Ramesh understood that this won’t be an easy fight and played a smart move. He sold his company to Coca Cola for high profit margin. On one hand he sold away his company but his very next move was to buy an Italian company called
#Bisleri for a meagre Rs 4 lakh. It is today the biggest player in the market of mineral water.
Even in this lap of life, Ramesh bhai is heading the company with zeal and fervour assisted by his daughter. This legendary businessman believes that every man is blessed by the almighty to succeed but a lot of it depends on your attitude and hardwork.
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