Shree Gajanan Industries: Competitive entrepreneurship, good ethics and transparency
Hiten Bhimani, CEO, Shree Gajanan Industries explains how the success of the company is attributed to unfailing commitment to quality and constant innovation, like the first-of-its-kind technology in the non-Basmati segment in the country. The company is now catering to highly quality-conscious markets like the US, Australia, Japan and Europe and is working on expanding its export markets.
IBT: How would you describe the journey of Shree Gajanan Industries, its vision, and key achievements?
Hiten Bhimani: From being a pioneer, Shree Gajanan Industries has come a long way to be a leading firm in the rice processing industry today with an annual turnover of around Rs. 200 crores. Our journey had a humble beginning in Nizamabad (then Andhra Pradesh, now Telangana), when it all started in a compact shack in the year 1949. It was later established as a brand in 1969.
Gajanan aspires to expand its global presence, guided by the ideals of the late Kanji Bhai, the fountainhead of the company. His principles in life are inherited by each member of the team — honesty, integrity, perseverance, and commitment. Thus, the company believes that sustainability lies in competitive entrepreneurship, good ethics and transparency that flourish on right values and not profits.
One of the key achievements is that Gajanan is amongst the few brands promoting SRI method of paddy cultivation. In SRI paddy cultivation, the seed requirement comes down by 80 %, the water requirement is reduced by 50% and the yield is also much better.
IBT: What were some of the challenges that the company faced during this time?
Hiten Bhimani: In the year 2008, the first shock came in the form of the export of rice being banned. That was when we realized that a lot of standards need to be put in place so that this brand survives for the next 100 years. Over the next few years, energies were channelized towards this and finally, in 2012, we got the ISO 22000 certification, and then in 2014, the FSSC 22000 certification. In 2016, the brand got organically certified, while in 2017, we got the GSFI certification. Subsequently in 2018, we got the SEDEX Smeta for our ethical and social compliance practices. Gajanan was also a part of an MOU between the Chinese customs and the Indian Agricultural department for phyto sanitary certification.
IBT: What is your company’s reach as per product segments and markets? What are the key ingredients for success in international markets in your view?
Hiten Bhimani: Shree Gajanan Industries is into processing indigenous rice varieties and is now moving from rice commodities to the entire range of groceries such as dals, masala & spice powder, pickles and other value additions. The idea is to bring the products right from the farm to your table. Currently, the company is catering to highly quality-conscious markets like the US, Australia, Japan and Europe and is working on expanding its export markets.
IBT: What are the key ingredients for your success in international markets, which could be imbibed by other Indian companies?
Hiten Bhimani: We look for long-term partnerships. Transparency and ethics have played a key role in our success in the international market. Moreover, the brand has focused on its unfailing commitment to quality and constant innovation like the first-of-its-kind technology in the non-Basmati segment in the country. This helped it to not only become a household name in the country for different varieties of rice, but also to establish its footprint around the globe.
IBT: What key lessons has Shree Gajanan Industries learned from the COVID-19 pandemic? How have you adapted and realigned your business model?
Hiten Bhimani: The core lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is how to manage disruption. When things are uncertain, we need to be innovative and have solutions for problems. Since we were in essential commodities; our supply chain was not majorly affected, but the international supply chain did get affected due to logistics.
IBT: What advice would you like to offer to young entrepreneurs on managing risk, coping with failure, and leadership?
Hiten Bhimani: Focus is important on key parameters and building one’s strengths. Failures are milestones to success and teach us many things. Leadership is the single most important thing to focus on in a moment of crisis. One should come forward to take decisions in such moments.
IBT: How do you view India’s level of competitiveness in your sector, and how can it be enhanced?
Hiten Bhimani: Our sector largely depends on the agricultural policies in India. It’s been monitored and governed under MSP. So, there’s very little that we can do to compete in the international market as the cost is largely dependent on the MSP.
This interview is a part of TPCI’s Connect initiative.