Nikhil Ballal

Kolhapur has its own distinct identity and so do the natives hailing from there. Being the abode of Mahalaxmi,the goddess of wealth,it is no wonder that the city boasts of state’s prosperous businessmen. Ghatge family is one of them. With an humble beginning of a single truck  carrying goods, today they are owners of a fleet comprising of over 550 trucks. Added to that they are also in the trade of logistics, automobile dealerships, courier services and not to forget passenger traffic. Tej Ghatge, the third generation representative of the esteemed family spoke with KYT tracking the history of the family which is literally on the move.

If you are a Maharashtrian then you must have invariably travelled with Ghatge Patil buses! You must be curious to know who this Ghatge-Patils are swiftly taking you from one place to another for last 50 years! Vasantrao Ghatge along with his friend J Kumar Patil started Ghatge Patil transport business in 1948.  They are the pioneers in the transport industry of Maharashtra.

Although they separated in early nineties, today Ghatge group of companies have diversified and achieved a phenomenal growth from dealerships to automobiles to goods transport to courier business. Currently, Ghatge’s have fleet of 550 trucks and 50 passenger buses which yields a turnover of around 2000 crores. The company has 3000 employees, today is also major dealer of leading automobile brands of world which includes Mercedes Benz.  Presently, their business is successfully carried forward by the third generation Tej, Gaurav and Tushar Ghatge. Tej Ghatge shares his journey with KYT’s executive editor Nikhil Ballal

Vasantrao Ghatge was a professor by profession. As time permitted him to do other activities, he wanted to do something different in life. He would ask everyone for work. As there was military base in Kolhapur, one of his army friends brought an offer of transporting the army goods. Without any second thoughts, he agreed. He bought a truck and started a company! He was on the driver seat with J Kumar Patil besides him. This gave birth to Ghatge Patil transport business.

Today, Ghatge group comprises of 10 operating companies diversified into Transportation and logistics, Engineering, Auto dealerships, Luxury bus services and couriers. All are named after their first names and led by family members.

Mr. Vasant rao Ghatge, professor of Botany also tried his hands in manufacturing of moped manufacturing sector and brake drums but transport business gave them success. Transportation and logistics is a 24 by 7 business. It involves huge risk and pressure. In initial days, Mr. Ghatge had many sleepless nights as tonnes of goods where transported from one corner of the country to the other. Meeting deadlines, delivering the goods safely at a right time required immense planning.

But VasantRao was a very gutsy and determined person. The promptness created goodwill of in market. This tradition of fulfilling commitments was carried ahead by his sons Mohan and Satish. After pursuing mechanical engineering from US, both of them joined their father in business. Their wives all partnered in businesses and are actively heading the businesses. Nandini Ghatge looks after Mohan travels, passenger and leisure business travel whereas Sadhana Ghatge with her entrepreneur skills started courier service in the name of his son ‘Tej’.

My aunt who also belongs to a rich business family is wonderfully handling the passenger business. Though this business is a male driven business but my aunt and mother both are doing a fabulous job, admits Tej. My aunt takes meeting of all bus drivers once a month even today. In any adverse situation, they are on field managing the show. My mother who hails from a catering background started courier services without taking any help from any group company. She is independently running the show successfully for last 25 years.

We admire their energy and passion towards life and business. Myself, Gaurav and Tushar grew in this zestful environment, states Tej.

Simple living high thinking is the success mantra of my father and uncle. They still commute by our buses only. If they want to go to Pune or Mumbai they will catch one of our passenger bus and travel. As our buses leave and reach on time they prefer travelling through our buses as punctuality is their utmost priority. Also it helps them to get first hand feedback of the passengers travelling by it. They have been our guiding force, adds Tej.

Our key to success is the lowest level of attrition. Many of the employees are with us right from the inception. We have implemented many schemes benefitting our employees. Kamgar society is one such scheme where our employees get loan at subsidized rate of interest of 6%. We organise a town hall meeting at the end of every quarter where we urge our employees to open their mind, share their grievances and also give suggestions. All directors attentively hear their suggestions and some are implemented too. Relation with employees is as important as relations with customers are the strong belief of Ghatge group.

The Ghatge family meets on every third Friday of the month and discuss their plethora of businesses with each other. Strict care is taken that no one misses these meetings. They share their problems and achievements with each other. Although we head different businesses, we all are working in tandem to help each other to pursue common dreams. As everyone has stakes in all businesses, everyone is sensitive and attached with every business. This understanding has helped us to grow as a group together. We try to achieve customer satisfaction above 96%, smiles Tej.

Probably our professional approach towards our business made foreign companies associate with us. We are the first dealer of Hyundai in India. We are also dealers of Tvs, Tata motors (commercial vehicles), Bharat Benz and now Mercedes Benz too. One of the finest Mercedes showrooms in India spreading over whopping 19000 sq feet is started by us in Pune.

Today, Ghatge Patil group carries over 60,000 consignments, cover two million kilometres and handle 2.5 billion value of goods every month. Siemens, Kirloskar, MRF tyres, Bajaj etc bank on them for all logistical support. Ghatges have also ventured in Saudi Arabia. They maintain 800 public buses under the brand Ghatge global. Tej couriers presence is now in 250 locations of India. Their foreign association continues with two showrooms of Renault in Pune.

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