Sunday, June 10, 2007

Achievers from Fazilka - Fazilite Sh N R Munjal, Managing Director Ind-Swift Laboratories

Some are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and some are blessed. But if you are not one of those, then you should have what it takes to fight your way to the top. This ideal drives Fazilites N R Munjal , the Managing Director of Ind-Swift Laboratories. Ind-Swift Laboratories has a significant presence in more than 45 countries, in addition to a strong position in the domestic market. Its research and development centre employs over 150 scientists

Born in a middle class family in Fazilka. Fazilite N R Munjal has beautiful and vivid memories of his childhood, his friends, family and the place he calls 'home'.

Based in Chandigarh now and having travelled extensively all over India and abroad, for him there is no place like home. "In comparison to Chandigarh, Fazilka was definitely like a village. We didn't know anything of the outside world and what was happening elsewhere in the world. But we were happy just playing around with friends and family," he says.
Not easy!

A happy childhood was followed by a tumultuous youth. While Punjab was going through the terrorism crisis, Munjal was handling his own personal turmoil. His father, running an engineering business, suffered a paralytic attack. That's when they decided to shift from Punjab to Chandigarh.
The crisis coupled with the added responsibility of running his father's business in Ludhiana. The work pressure, however, did not deter him from visualising a new company. He started Ind-Swift Ltd as a small formulation unit with his brother and a friend. While several business families are falling apart, this trio has stood the test of time and is still intact. But why did he choose pharma when his experience was with an engineering factory? The reason is simple—the pharmaceutical business is promising! "In a city like Chandigarh, there was no scope for an engineering unit. One of my partners and my younger brother were working in a pharmaceutical company. They used to talk of the huge margins in pharmaceuticals. That's how we dreamt this and created a pharma company ourselves," he says.
Hard work pays
Being very close to home and complete Indians at heart, they named the company Ind-Swift to represent Indians (Ind) and swift representing the second fastest bird in the world. "We called it swift as we wanted to take the company to great heights just like Ranbaxy," he says, adding that his role model is Dr Parvinder Singh, the former Head of Ranbaxy Laboratories.
The inception of a company is never an easy task especially when you are a first-generation entrepreneur taking the plunge into deep cold water. "Those days, bank financing was not very easy. And the rate of interest too was as high as 19-20 percent," he recalls. Moreover, bankers asked for collateral and they had no sufficient surety. "It was not easy to get a loan but we managed to get a term loan and the working capital and we established a factory in a rented place. Slowly and steadily, we built our credibility with the bankers."
Soon after the company commenced operations, the partners' hard work, determination and teamwork spearheaded it to good heights. But Munjal was stretched between his work at the engineering factory in Ludhiana and Ind-Swift in Chandigarh. After two years, he took the difficult decision of selling his father's business and devoted himself totally to his present concern.
While Ind-Swift was doing well, there was more to it than a formulation company. Hence the idea of Ind-Swift Laboratories. "Ind-Swift Ltd was a formulation company and sales are difficult to come by in formulation. The bottom-line was good but the top line was not very lucrative. At that time in the corporate world, everybody was looking at the top line. We thought of going for backward integration into formulation and that's how we came up with Ind-Swift Laboratories, which we formed with a joint venture with Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC)."
For Munjal, the best came when they went the IPO way in 1994. After that, there was no turning back. Today, Ind-Swift Laboratories is a Rs 250 crore company which started off with a Rs 2 lakh capital. However, it was not a smooth ride all the way. "It was really very hard. I remember that in one month, the total sales were equal to the total expenditure. But hard work pays," he asserts.
Management basics
Munjal joined his father's business soon after his graduation, and his tryst with the business world ensued. He never went through a formal management course. Yet, with all his experience, he has formulated his own management tenets. One of which is his style of decision-making. According to him, listening to any opinion from any corner of the company is absolutely necessary. He shares his plans with his workforce and lends an ear to their apprehensions before taking a decision. "I believe that employees should not be deprived of voicing their opinion. Any thought coming from any quarter of the company should be taken seriously," he says. With all the groundwork done, when a decision is agreed upon, implementation takes place smoothly.
Munjal also believes in being an exemplar to his employees. "Being the boss, everything you do is monitored by the people in your organisation. If I come to work by eleven or twelve and leave by four, how can I expect my employees to be punctual?" he asks. That's so true. Apparently, he is the kind of man who sows virtues to reap gold.
A lesson well learnt
Munjal did endure a lot to reach the stage that he did. But then, he learnt a lot of lessons in the process. "One of the biggest lessons I learnt was that a sales transaction is not complete until you receive the money," he says.
Sounds strange! Did he have a bad experience before the valuable lesson? Yes he did. While in his twenties and still assisting his dad in business, he made a brilliant sales transaction with a very high margin. When a jubilant Munjal conveyed the good news to his father, he realised that in spite of selling it, he never received the payment. It was a case of 'operation is successful but the patient has died'. "My father bashed me over the loss," he laughs it out and adds, "Well! You always learn the hard way."

Boisterous youth - Fazilka

When you have friends around, any place is interesting. Being one of 'just wanna have fun' boys in Fazilka, there was an incident where he played the bad home alone kid. Once it so happened that while he playing chor sipahi with friends, he was so caught up in the game that he ended up jumping from the second floor of a building to escape the imaginary cop. "We used to take a lot of risks and both my legs were broken," he smiles. Now that he looks back on it, he is amazed at himself, "How could I jump from two floors? Today, I will not even jump from a height of five feet."

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