Interview With A Rubber Leader_R V Gandhi_GRP

 

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From building an ethical corporate organization in GRP, to serving on prestigious boards and industry bodies, public and private trusts Gandhi’s immense contribution to Indian rubber industry has established him as an inspirational business leader

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Know A Rubber & Tyre LEADER rubbermachineryworld.com / tyremachineryworld.com In 10 on i t s e Qu s NEW On 24 Pg Leadership Insight from Around The World INTERVIEW WITH R.V.GANDHI ONE MUST Managing Director, GRP Ltd. DARE TO DREAM

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| Interviewer’s Note | “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader. They set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role - always about the goal.” The above verses best summarizes Rajendra V. Gandhi, MD and the chief promoter of GRP Ltd. From building an ethical corporate organization in GRP, to serving on prestigious boards and industry bodies, public and private trusts that serve the cause of education in rubber, women empowerment, training in ethical values, water resource management, Gandhi’s immense contribution to Indian rubber industry has established him as an inspirational business leader and an iconic corporate citizen. While the global reclaim industry depended on the European technology for manufacturing, Gandhi boldly decided to design, fabricate and install an entire plant and machinery for the manufacture of Reclaim Rubber, with complete indigenous components when India was largely deprived of foreign funds for imported machinery. This pioneering effort, at the start of his career as a young graduate engineer from IIT, Mumbai, ensured the beginning of a reclaim movement in India. Under Gandhi’s leadership, GRP Ltd has emerged as one of the largest manufacturer of reclaim rubber in the world, setting benchmarks for others to follow. Its an honour to know him and present you his leadership wisdom in this edition. We also have ‘Leadership Insights from Around the World in a Page’ as an additional knowledge resource for you. As always, I welcome your feedback on rubbermachineryworld@gmail.com. Best Regards Prasanth Warrier Gandhi’s immense contribution to Indian rubber industry and social causes make him an inspirational business leader and an iconic citizen. 3 rubbermachineri rubbermachineryworld +Rubbermachineryworld1 grp/home?gid=8252803 rubbermachineri Know A Leader - Rubber & Tyre Machinery World | APR 2016 (Disclaimer: All the pictures and statements in this special supplement are sourced from web or shared by respective companies. All copyrights belong to actual owners. Rubber Machinery World does not independently verify them nor will vouch for their genuineness, hence will not be liable for any misrepresented data. The images are used for representation purpose only.)

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| LEADER - INTERVIEW | 4 “The only driving force then was a desire to start a business which I can call my own creation no matter how small” Know A Leader - Rubber & Tyre Machinery World | APR 2016

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| LEADER - INTERVIEW | One Must Dare To Dream. Entrepreneurship is about dreaming, conceptualising. Interview With Rajendra V. Gandhi, Managing Director, GRP Ltd. PRASANTH WARRIER (PW): Hello Rajendra Gandhi. First of all thank you for accepting an interview with Rubber & Tyre Machinery World and sharing your thoughts. The decade of 70s was not a period conducive to entrepreneurs in Indian ecosystem. Yet, as a young graduate out of IIT Mumbai, you embarked on a journey that created an enterprise, people today know as GRP. So let me start with a personal question What would you say were secrets to your success? What are the take away for the next generation of leaders in your inspiring story? RAJENDRA V. GANDHI (RVG): It is true that the decade of 70's was not a period conducive to entrepreneurs in Indian ecosystem. But after graduating from IIT Mumbai, and having spent some time in my family textile business, I had inkling to start something on my own instead of enjoying the family business legacy. At that time I came across an article which spoke how there is a good future for the recycling industry in a developing country like India. I was struck by that article and decided to pursue an opportunity in recycling. After reviewing several options, I zeroed in on rubber recycling. I must admit that I did not have any fixed roadmap to succeed in this venture when I set out. The only driving force then was a desire to start a business / industry which I can call my own creation no matter how small. It was then that I was introduced to K.M. Philip who was fondly known as the 'Father of the Indian Rubber Industry'. He encouraged me to set up a reclaim rubber plant with technical guidance from Wamanrao G Desai who was an accomplished rubber technologist with several years of experience in the reclaim rubber manufacturing. Thus Gujarat Reclaim & Rubber Products Ltd Company was set up in 1974. Philip graciously agreed to become the Chairman, while Desai was appointed the Managing Director and I was the Joint Managing Director. For me this was a journey in faith. The company was established on certain values and principles, which later turned out to be the valuable 'assets' of the company. We decided that instead of importing the machinery by bribing to get an import license through DGTD, we would design and make the entire plant based on indigenous parts and equipment. Desai had 5 Know A Leader - Rubber & Tyre Machinery World | APR 2016

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| LEADER - INTERVIEW | the adequate experience and it was my choice to have faith in his experience and expertise. Philip's advice was very reassuring. So, initial years were spent in designing equipment necessary for manufacture of reclaiming rubber, preparing plant layouts, etc. We were able to purchase locally a second hand imported cracker mill for initial size reduction of waste tyres. I realised the importance of patience and perseverance during this period. We were able to convince the financial institutes to give us loan on the basis of self -designed and fabricated plant and machinery. This indeed provided us lot of encouragement and confidence. But my family was more cautious and offered a limited capital for the venture. It meant that for the remaining capital I had to look for other sources. We decided to set up our plant in Ankleshwar, Gujarat which was then declared as a backward district and various financial incentives were available for entrepreneurs setting up a unit there. After mustering some capital from relatives and friends, I decided to make a public issue to raise the balance capital. Unfortunately, the period from 1975-77 was a time of emergency declared by Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. The capital market was indeed very depressed just as the economy then. For a paltry sum of Rs 15 lakhs that I needed from public issue, I had to spend more than two years to get this amount underwritten by various institutions. This delay resulted in cost escalation and we were trapped in liquidity crisis. During this time I lost my father. I was scared and at times frustrated. But I believed that if one's intentions are honourable, one will receive support. KM Philip, inspite of his stature and respect, decided to fully stand by me. With the public issue in 1978 we were able to invest rest of the capital and as a result we were able to commission the first line at Ankleshwar in around Oct 1978 with our indigenously designed and self-fabricated machinery. Obviously there were plenty of teething troubles in the equipment, resulting in frequent stoppage of plant. It took us about 4 years to resolve all technical issues. In the process, we paid heavy price in terms of further cost escalation. 6 “I was scared and at times frustrated. But I believed that if one’s intentions are honorable one will receive support” We were fighting against heavy odds. It needed lot of patience, perseverance, and faith to continue. In KM Philip I found a great motivator and supporter. While dealing with the debugging of equipment, I also learnt the need to establish good practices in corporate governance. I realised the importance of giving respect to my colleagues at all levels. I realised those working with me as a valuable human asset. Know A Leader - Rubber & Tyre Machinery World | APR 2016

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| LEADER - INTERVIEW | In this journey of over 40 years with GRP and in the rubber industry, here are few take away as I reflect back. • One must dare to dream. Entrepreneurship is about dreaming, conceptualising. • One must have healthy reservoir of patience and perseverance. • One has to have long term focus. • It is important to have right values and healthy precedents to be introduced in the very beginning of a start-up enterprise. • Taking risk is an integral part of entrepreneurship. 10 “It is important to have right values and healthy precedents to be introduced in the very beginning of a start-up enterprise.” PW: You have donned quite a few hats in your career – a rubber reclaim pioneer, visionary entrepreneur, representative of various bodies, advisor, mentor, educationist, championing causes of woman empowerment and employment amongst other corporate and personal initiatives. Which is the position that you enjoyed the most? RVG: It is true that I have donned many hats in my career. Of course, all hats were not donned at the same time, but at different times. I can broadly divide my role in 3 parts; a) In Business as an entrepreneur, b) In Industry as a member of different rubber bodies, and c) In social area, as an active citizen. In Business: When I decided to enter the reclaim rubber industry, I was aware that there were few established players then. So I cannot call myself a pioneer then. As I began to grapple with the routine issues faced by any new enterprise, I realised soon that I need to do things differently, to carve out a niche. The idea of designing and selffabricating all equipment for manufacture of Know A Leader - Rubber & Tyre Machinery World | APR 2016

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| LEADER - INTERVIEW | reclaim rubber offered many challenges and opportunities to learn. I enjoyed interacting with different vendors and trying to understand where they can be vulnerable or what their real strengths are. It was an interesting experience to trust my vendors and machinery suppliers with our drawings and proprietary information. While few betrayed that trust most others turned out to be trust-worthy. Even today we have a dilemma. If we develop a concept or an idea and we would like to engage a machine supplier to test our idea on his machine, we need to share our objective and to seek the vendor's input how best to tweak his machine for our objective. At that point the vendor is keener to know what our real objective is, so that they can offer their machines to others for a similar objective. While the vendor want to sell multiple machines based on our idea where as we are keen that he sells his machine without sharing with others what our objective is. In such a situation there exists a trust deficit. In trade bodies: I was fortunate to be part of the AIRIA Managing Committee, initially as a representative of the Indian Reclaim Rubber Manufacturers' Association and in later years as a special invitee. I witnessed in earlier years how K.M. Philip, and other senior members of the rubber fraternity were grappling with the issues confronting the Indian rubber industry. I recognised that most members were not equally “While the vendor want to sell multiple machines based on our idea where as we are keen that he sells his machine without sharing with others what our objective is. In such a situation there exists a trust deficit.” committed to serve the rubber industry selflessly. Often there is a dilemma whether the trade body should adopt a protectionist attitude to support their members' interest or to develop a larger picture for the potential growth of the entire industry. Either you choose to grab the larger piece of a cake or to think of carving out a larger cake itself and thereby to increase your size. I wish when members come on a trade body, they develop a foresight to see the larger picture and potential. I also hope that more and more members use such a platform to broaden their vision and serve selflessly instead of using such platform for personal gains and indulging in petty politics. I believe the Indian Rubber Industry can attain much greater heights if its trade representatives adopt a bolder and wider vision. In Social areas: In our upbringing we have been taught that we must learn to 'pay-back' to society in whatever way we can. So from a young age, I have tried to be an active citizen by participating and joining social community activities. Know A Leader - Rubber & Tyre Machinery World | APR 2016 11

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| LEADER - INTERVIEW | 12 Rajendra V. Gandhi with Kandathil M. Philip. K.M. Philip, fondly known as the ‘Father Of Indian Rubber Industry’, is also the Chairman (Emeritus) of GRP Ltd. “K.M. Philip, inspite of his stature and respect, decided to fully stand by me... I found a great motivator and supporter (in him).” Know A Leader - Rubber & Tyre Machinery World | APR 2016

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| LEADER - INTERVIEW | PW: What have been the significant changes you observed in the rubber industry in the last 4 decades? What were the drivers for this change? RVG: When I decided to set up the Reclaim Rubber factory in 1974, Indian economy was a socialist / control economy. For procuring any raw material or for making any product you needed a DGTD quota or DGTD Registration/an industrial license. These quotas and license were made available on very selective basis. As a result few enjoyed monopolies and prospered because of artificial scarcity created by such quotas and licenses. There were few exceptional tyre companies who could genuinely claim to be home grown during that period. However with the advent of liberalization in early 90s, the shape of the rubber industry had changed dramatically. With the markets opening up and with “I believe there are several shining examples of Indian rubber manufacturing companies.” growing consumer demand there was rapid expansions in the production capacities of all rubber goods manufacturers. In the 70's and 80's, the Indian rubber industry was very inward focused and prospering or surviving on the domestic market only. But since 90's those companies which started expanding their markets beyond boundaries began to see lot more opportunities. Of course entering export market meant intense competition and quality improvement. I believe there are several shining examples of Indian rubber manufacturing companies who have established niche for their products in the global markets because of their high quality and competitive process. I am proud of the fact that my company GRP Ltd. is one such company. 14 Image from Web: Schematic Layout Of Tyre Recycling Machinery Know A Leader - Rubber & Tyre Machinery World | APR 2016

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