An ordinary insurance agent who had a total of only Rs 5,000 in his account was getting crushed under small amount of debts that he had taken from his friends. He did not know that a darker and murkier future awaited him. Just like everyone else he kept on struggling hoping to overcome his problems. It is quite unbelievable that the same man is now in the list of the richest Indians.
Lachhman Das Mittal was born into a poor family in Bhindarkala village of Moga district in Punjab. His father worked on petty commissions in a local mandi which was just enough to feed his family. Despite their difficulties and poverty his father always encouraged Lachhman to excel in studies. After graduating from a government college he went on to pursue a post-graduation degree in English and Urdu through a correspondence course from Punjab University.
Lachhman only had poverty at his disposal and knew the only thing he could do is to use his weaknesses as his weapon. He put all his strength and became finished his MA in English with a gold medal. Even now he couldn’t turn around his fate and struggled a lot to find a job. After struggling for many months he began his career in 1956 as an LIC agent. He polished his skills and gained a lot of experience. This got him promoted to the post of Field Officer and gave him the opportunity to work in several states.
A major chink of his salary went towards clearing his debt but he made it a habit to save money whenever he could. The desire to do something big in life was met with a realization that a job was not going to fulfill his dreams. The knew he had to set up his own business and he couldn’t wait any longer.
In 1966, alongside his job he got into business of making agricultural machines. But his inefficiency in the initial days proved to be disastrous and he suffered huge losses. All his savings and investment were lost and Lachhman was face to face with bankruptcy. This was a time when anybody would have been crushed and pulled their hands from anything risky. But Lachhman was keen on learning from his mistakes and began making fresh business strategies.
To make up for his losses he applied for a Maruti dealership but only to be turned down. He kept looking for new ideas and one days spotted a Japanese machine that separated wheat from hay in Punjab Agricultural University. This struck a chord with him and he returned to start working on developing a thresher.
It was the perfect time and his product had come out brilliantly. Within eight years his name had crossed Indian borders of popularity and was gaining international fame in the field of threshers. Sonalika Thresher had become a rage all over the world. His customers advised him to try his hand in manufacturing tractors.
Lachhman Das took his time to reflect upon the idea and was convinced that entering into tractor manufacturing will be beneficial to him as well as millions of farmers of the country. He began in 1994 by assembling two tractors Moving forward very cautiously he took two years for the research to complete and give him positive results. But lack of funds was holding him back until he realized that requests from farmers were pouring in for him.
He made the right decision and spoke with his closest dealers who agreed to loan him money without any interest rates. He successfully collected Rs 22 crore and laid foundation for Sonalika Tractors in Jalandhar. In 1996, their sales in the commercial market began and Sonalika Tractors made way to the Indian fields.
He never had to look back from this point onward and all his decisions were proving to be right. Today, Sonalika Tractors is exporting to 74 countries and has set up its manufacturing plants in five countries.
The man who once applied for a Maruti dealership and got rejected now distributes dealership to people from all over the country. It sells about 70,000 tractors per annum with over 12,000 units being shipped to over 70 global locations. Lachhman Das Mittal was the 68th richest man in India in Forbes list with a networth of $1.4 billion or Rs 9338 crore.
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