GEM OF A PERSON!

Nikhil Ballal

Tell us something about your childhood.
SP-Though I was born in a prestigious
business family we were never pampered in
that way. We lived in a joint family system.
We had a car but we children use to go
walking to our school which was about 15-20
min walk away. BalmohanVidyamandir of
Dadar was my school then. I was an ordinary
student with extra-ordinary dreams. Business
environment in our family had a great
influence on me. At the age of 10 I dreamt of
having a chain of 100 shops of my own!
Though I was not sure whether it would be
jewellery or something else. But
KhupDukankadhayche hey tharavlahota( I had
decided to open many shops)
Your grandfather had been a jeweller
and father was a developer.

How did you
opt for jewellery?
SP-I assisted my father in couple of
projects. But jewellery enticed me more than
buildings. So I decided to work with my
grandfather in his business. After returning
with a business management degree from
America I joined him in 1990. Within no time
I learned the tricks of trades. I used to spend
hours with Karagir (designer). Today I can
design my own jewellery. This education
helped me to innovate. I will soon be
launching a screw and nut ( earing firki) which
if falls on ground would stop rolling. So, you
don’t have to run behind the rolling firki now!
Today I can handle any department of a
jewellery store.

How were the initial days in the
business?
SP-It was a great experience working
with my grandfather. He was a dynamic
person. Under his able guidance l learnt
various management principles which even
colleges don’t teach. One of my god gifted
quality is that I am a fast learner. Also have
good observation skills. I would minutely
observe my grandfather talking with
customers, employees, karagirs and labour
staff. My Ajoba was a cool customer. He
would never lose his temper and maintained
his composure while talking with all staff. I
would admire his patience and temperament.
I followed the path shown by him which
eventually helped me in getting good staff.
Today there are many employees with me
who are with us from the time of the inception.
Thanks to our goodwill that we built all
over the year’s patrons came to our Girgaon
showroom from far off places like Thane,
Virar and Dombivli. It was risky for them to
carry cash and later jewellery while
commuting back. After buying their favourite
design I would see the smile on their faces
which would vanish immediately by the
thought of carrying it safely back home. I
thought Thane will be the ideal place to have
a jewellery store.
Finally in 1994 we ventured out a shop in
Pune followed by Thane in 1996. I am one of
the founder members of Pune showroom. We
enjoyed every moment of establishing it as
we were given complete freedom by our
elders. It is necessary to induct your younger
ones in the business early. Their ignited minds have                                                                                                                        fresh ideas without any preconceived
notions. This helps the business to stay young
and grow. We all brothers were young then.
It was a challenging experience for us to
interact with various unavoidable ‘agencies’.

When did WamanHariPethe and Sons
happen?
SP-Due to some reasons our uncles split
the business in 2002 and Thane showroom
came in my platter. I was very happy as I always loved Thane. I have unconditional love
for Thanekars and this lake city. Earlier we all
brothers would handle a store. So, each
brother looked after different sets of
departments. Now every brother had to take
care of one whole store. It was a tough task to
manage all departments of a store simultaneously.
Fortunately my better half
Sonalistarted helping me in my business and
today she has become the backbone of our
company. With her support I am on the right
track of pursuing my childhood dream of
opening hundred shops! Out of Hundred I have
now 12 under my belt still 88 to open. I still
have a long way to go. I am confident that I
will achieve this remarkable feat.

What has been your success formula?
SP-I set realistic and achievable targets. In
last decade I planned to open one shop every
year. Today I have 12 shops all over Mumbai,
Thane and outside Mumbai. If you would have
asked me for an interview about five years
back then I would have refused because I was
so workaholic that I had no leisure time. I use
to see my weekly holiday ‘Monday’ as an
opportunity to work more and complete the
pending tasks. My wife never grumbled about
my working schedules. Infact, she has always
rendered unconditional support.

How have been these twelve years so
far?
SP-There were many ups and downs few
roller coasters too! But I have enjoyed every
ride just like IMAGICA! In all these years I
have created a trust among millions of
customers. In Jewellery industry there are
chances of getting deceived. Thanks to the
Gemmology course which I did in my early
days which helped me to get the right thing
and sell it in a right way. Customers would be
carefree as far as the originality of stone is
concerned in WHPS.
Once I was on the verge of shutting my
Ghatkopar branch which was not going that
well. But I was thinking about my decision till
the last moment. Suddenly I recollected few of
my Ghatkopar customers who thanked us on
inauguration for starting a branch in their
locality. Without any second thoughts I
decided to continue the showroom for these
customers. Today this branch is going strong!
Also I could create my own identity in
Gold industry. Earlier hallmarking of
jewellery was a tedious process but with my
few suggestions today it has become easier
and quicker.

What was the turning point of your life?
SP-During my college days I was somehow
not happy with my life. I wanted to do
something different other than the curriculum. I
came to know about a unique course called
EST. This course changed my life drastically. In
this course we were asked to perform some
irrational tasks. Initially we found them weird
but later in our business we realised their
importance. It made us more adventurous,
bold and determined. The course taught us
never to give up in any situation till you find a
right solution. This honed me into a good
businessman.

Tell us something about the museum
which you have developed in your house.
SP-Yes I have my private museum in my
house. I have collections of old coins and rare
display of Mohenjodaro civilization. It
requires great patience to find these rare
things. But one should have such kind of hobby
as it increases the level of perseverance. I
don’t easily give up on anything. I try, try and
try until I succeed. Lastly, I would like to say
Never cut a tree down in the wintertime.
Never make a negative decision in the low
time.

Never make your most important
decisions when you are in your worst
moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass.
The spring will come.

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