A Breed of its Own
02 Feb 2018 | DECCO |
The geographical diversification helped us de-risk our earnings and sustain our growth momentum—
Rajnikant Shroff, chairman, UPL
Rajnikant Shroff started off his business on an explosive note, literally. A 36-year-old Shroff, a chemistry graduate from Gujarat, as the R&D head at his family-owned unit was mixing various chemicals in search of a formula that would enable him to manufacture red phosphorus at low costs. Unfortunately, that exercise led to an explosion at the plant. A very worried uncle asked him to stop his risky experiment, but Shroff was obsessed about his idea. He chose to start his own venture, UPL, to continue with his dream.
In 1969, he set up a red phosphorous factory in Vapi. The company started production with a paltry sum of 4 lakh with over 25 employees. In those days, a Swedish company that went by the name of Wimco made matchboxes and used red phosphorus for its matches. When Wimco heard of Shroff’s venture, it couldn’t digest the news. By any measure, phosphorus production was considered an expensive energy-intensive process. Energy costs could account for as much as one-third of production. However, against all established notions, here was a small company that was producing phosphorus at a fraction of the costs prevalent in the industry.