A MAN OF ‘METAL’

Nikhil Ballal

How was your childhood?
BS-I wasborn and brought up in Ooty. We
are in all 12 siblings and out of them I am the
11th one just like APJ Abdul Kalam! (smiles).
My father was a landlord and had a huge
plantation to his credit. He was a philanthropist.
We grew up seeing him serving the
needy people of our village. Our harvested
food would first go the deprived people of
our hamlet and then later in the unlocked
warehouse.

What do you mean by unlocked
warehouse?
BS-Our warehouse was never locked. It
was open 24 by 7.It was open to all the
villagers, so that anyone can access whenever
they want. This had a great influence on my
upbringing. I understood the value of giving.

So did you dream ‘big’ right from your
childhood?
BS-Yes I always dreamt big. Not to
become a big businessman but to become a
great ‘giver’ in this world. I dreamt to give
money to the underprivileged, give employment
to the job seekers, give food to famish
and always support a good cause.

How were you in your academic days?
BS-I was always an average student. But I
feel average students make it bigger in their
life!I have a firm belief that the last 10
rankers of schools eventually make it in the list
of first 10 successful people of the society
(laughs). Education and knowledge are
required to become successful but ultimately
it is the ‘attitude’ of the person which decides
his destiny. I am a super optimistic person
since my childhood. I feel my attitude has led
to me to reach this peak of success!

When did you come to this dream city-
Mumbai?
BS-I had never planned to come to
Mumbai. It just so happened. After completing
my graduation I started working in an
engineering cutting tools company. I was
deputed to Mumbai to handle their operations.
During those days I use to get a
remuneration of only Rs 150! (smiles). But
even in this sparse income I would contribute
to the CRY foundation. Out of my monthly
income i would remit Rs 25 for this noble
cause.

When did you become a businessman?
BS- I always had a passion of learning
new things and exploring new avenues.
Though I was only a Commerce graduate,
within no time I got the hang of work
performed in all the departments. There was
not a single task in the organisation which I
was not well verse. I would always strive to
give back 10 times more to the organisation.
In my 12 years I never asked for any
increment. By now I was well popular in the
metallurgy industry.
I was working as if I am the owner of the
company. It was exactly during this period
when I realised that my company is failing in
its commitments. I am a man of commitments. I
never commit anything if I have a doubt.                                                                                                                              I patiently waited for few months and then one
fine day finally took a hard decision of
making an exit.
In an effort to retain me they offered me a
lucrative package which included a luxury car,
a 10 times more package and two month long
trip at an exotic location overseas. But I was
firm and stucked to my decision. Iestablished
Saatveeka Trading Company in 1999.

Tell us about your initial days in
Saatveeka?
BS-The going was not rough as it is usually
in new business.Thanks to the 12 years of
experiencewhich gave me sound footing. After
operating in Bhiwandi for a year I shifted my
base to Thane in 2000. I began with a
workforce of only five. From beginning I
trusted my men and would assign them big
responsibilities. I never interfered in their
work. If any entrepreneur can achieve this then
he can achieve speedy growth in his business.
My managers are authorised signatories of my
company.
Also there was a huge competition in our
industry. But this intense competition never
affected me as I always believed in competing
with myself instead of competing with
others. I analyse myself every day. I compare
my present output with yesterday’s performance.
This helps me improve and augment my
productivity every day. My first year turnover
of Rs 30 lakhs has seen a remarkable
northward growth.

I am sure you may have confronted
many ups and downs in your 14 years of
business. What were they? And how did you
overcome them?
BS-First four years I worked really hard
without taking a single day’s break. I would
begin my day at 5-30am and extend it to
10pm. I was completely workaholic. Our
company was growing at 30% annually until
the subprime mortgage crisis affected the
world market. We being one of leading
importers and exporter of high speed steel
tool and alloy steels we were severely affected by                                                                                                                               this economic disaster. Also exactly during this period                                                                                                                  I was the president of Rotary Club of Thane North End. So I was
not able to give time to my business and we
eventually ended up incurring a huge loss ofRs
10 crores.
But I accepted this failure. If you want to
overcome failure you have to accept it first! I
first accepted the failure and prepared my
blue print to bounce back again. During these
days, I went on being more spiritual, would
meditate, attend kakadaarti at Siddhi Vinayak
temple and visit Vaishno Devi once in a month.
This gave me peace of mind and helped me
concentrate more into my business. Apart from
my faith in God my purpose of visiting these
places is to understand and explore your
strengths. It is not easy to reach Vaishno Devi. It
requires huge endurance and perseverance to
reach there. After every Vaishno Devi trip I
find myself more bull headed in my business.

What is the success formula of
Saatveeka Trading Company?
BS-We at Saatveeka, strive to achieve
customer’s satisfaction through continual
improvement, timely delivery and competitive
price. We improve knowledge by implementing
Quality systems by involving all the
employees. Today I can tell you with pride
that last year we did a turnover of Rs 84
crores.

Any business requires a huge capital and
heavy investment?Do you agree?
BS-I don’t agree.I feel Righteousness is the
biggest capital investment for any company. If
your intentions are right and your approach is
positive then you can establish a business even
with a small capital. Also one should take
calculated risk in business. You should be in
total control of your business at any point of
time. If the resolve must be strong then the
result is yours.

What would you appeal to the budding
businessmen?
BS-One of the biggest fear people have in
their lives is that of failure. They fear to start
something new in life. It is very important to
first overcome this fear. I firmly believe it is
better to be a failure at something you love
than to be a success at something you hate!
Whatever you start you should have a
complete knowledge of it! Work discipline
and following your commitments is the key to
success for any business.

Finally have you achieved your dream
of becoming one of the biggest ‘giver’ of the
world?
BS-Yes I have. My company is actively
engaged in Corporate social responsibility not
only in India but Srilanka and Indonesia as
well.I have donated hugely for the upliftment
of the weaker and disabled sections of the
society. Saatveeka Group is committed to
spend a part of its annual turnover in a regular
CSR activity throughout the life of the
enterprise. It gives me immense pleasure to be
associated with Baba Amte’s cause. We have
been sponsoring the morning meal of
thousands of inmates at Anandvan. We are
currently planning to generate a 7 crores
rehabilitation centre for the disabled in Thane.
Lastly I would conclude by saying that
Give the world the best you have and the best
will come back to you! Keep doing good
Karma always. It has exactly happened with
me and I am sure it will happen to anyone who
practises it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *