Take us through your journey from being just any other Rahul in the country to Rahul Panvelkar, the whole and sole of Panvelkar Group.
My journey from childhood to a businessman has been a phenomenal one, and without a second thought I give all the credit of my success to my family, who always stood like a rock behind me. Coming from a joint family, I got the opportunity to closely watch my father and uncles, who were all businessmen. The dinner conversations had a major influence on me and I was very clear that even I wanted to become a businessman. We were 35 of us staying in a single building. As time passed by, the paucity of space started haunting us, therefore, we decided to construct our own building. The building that was developed with no other aim than providing a decent amount of space to all family members, was appreciated by people around, and that marked the formation of Panvelkar Group. Our first project included building 16 flats. Initially the business was started with the name ‘Sai’, but then we thought the name was too common and there would be identity crisis. So, we changed the name to ‘Panvelkar Group’. Before entering the construction line, my family was in the business of bricks manufacturing, stone crushing, and allied activities. After the initial practice with 16 flats we entered into township projects in Badlapur and Ambernath. Since then we have constructed 9,500 houses.
What was the driving force that encouraged you to become a businessman?
I think the businessman genes came to me from my grandmother, who use to run a shop in our vicinity. Her sons, that is my father and uncles were also in some or the other kind of business. Being in a joint family, we used to have dinners together and the majority of conversations revolved around each other’s business. As a child, I was very fascinated by their talks. It was then I dreamt of being a businessman. Apart from the monetary gains, I was interested in serving people and generating employment.To become the source of people’s happiness was my dream.
It is a known fact that real estate business is like a cash cow. Despite this, what made you delve into the relatively humble segment of the business, i.e. the affordable housing?
This is a very good question. You are right in saying that real estate is one of the most lucrative businesses, and instead of entering the affordable housing segment, I could have very well taken the common path and minted enormous amounts of money. Since my basic principle of business was clear, I had no hesitations in opting for affordable housing domain. It was always man before money for me. Therefore, I dived into affordable housing which allowed me to construct homes for people with relatively lower income. During our schooling, we were taught the three basic necessities of life; food, clothing, and shelter. Through this business, I am able to satisfy the third need of human beings; shelter, courtesy my affordable housing business.
You started your business in 2007 and soon in 2008-09 the lightning of recession struck on the economy. How did you tackle that?
Every business is subject to a typical business cycle which sees peak, recession, trough, and recovery. When I started off in 2007, I would say that my business was already enjoying the peak. The economy was growing at a rate of close to 10% and real estate was enjoying the sweet fruits of this growth. Suddenly in a span of less than 12 months, the economy was in shambles. Recession hit the US and the domino effect was seen in India. The business of many developers collapsed like a pack of cards in front of my eyes. I thought I would be the next in line, however, my customers came to my rescue. The goodwill that I had built was my saviour. I weathered the storm and sailed through what I would call one of the most horrific phases of my business tenure.
How did you overcome the slump in real estate market post demonetization and RERA?
I will be lying if I said that demonetization and RERA had no impact on real estate market, but the way Panvelkar Group handled these events has been impeccable. There was some degree of stress in our fraternity, but I am not the one who will stress about this business. I took this as a challenge and enjoyed every bit of it. We did not let these non-controllable things affect our business. We continued to strive and delivered good quality and service to our customers.
With so many builders coming up in frame of things, how do you market your business to compete in the rat race?
We put up advertisements in newspapers on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, hoping that people will see the advertisement and visit us over the weekend. Apart from this, our sales offices are strategically located near the railway stations. This saves a lot of travelling time for the people. In addition to Badlapur and Ambernath, we have spread our wings in Neral, Asangaon, and Vasind. We have not only constructed houses here but also played a pivtal role in beautification of these places. We implemented a Green project where we planted trees on both sides of highways. This is our way of expressing our love and ownership towards these areas. Such projects implicitly help in marketing our business.
What is your future plan of action?
In the last 30 years, Panvelkar Group has provided 9,500 houses and has been responsible for cleaning several station areas. My future plan of action is to construct the same number of houses in the next two years and continue with the station area cleaning work. I not only want people to stay in good quality homes but also enjoy clean surroundings, therefore Panvelkar Group has undertaken the work of cleaning station areas. I want to make Panvelkar Group a global brand.