The Entrepreneurial Journey


Life Journey of Bhau
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A memorable journey
in the service of farmers
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The journey begins

Despite qualifying in the Maharashtra State gazetted officers’ exam, he chose to opt for a career in business. This was rather an unusual step for a young man whose forefathers had migrated from Rajasthan to Maharashtra in the 1890s in search of greener pastures. To give up a deputy collector’s job and opt for a career in business was surely imprudent and foolhardy?
However, two factors prevailed on Bhau to become an entrepreneur:
1. His meeting with B. M. Jain a leading businessman from Jalgaon, who motivated him into business and even volunteered to help him financially. In the sixties, it was difficult for someone from a non-business background to start a business and run it successfully. Mr. B. M. Jain introduced Bhau to Esso officials and strongly recommended Bhau’s case for dealership and an agency.
2. His mother Guarabhai’s advice: "Do something which will not only fill the bellies of you and your family but something that will enable you to feed even the birds and animals that cannot speak."
The entire savings of Bhau’s joint family amounting to Rs. 7000/- (about US $ 1000 at the exchange rate prevalent at that time) was put into the business. Thus began his stint as a sub dealer of Esso, retailing kerosene oil. He learnt valuable lessons selling kerosene oil door to door at a price 40 percent lower than the then prevailing market price. It injected in him the spirit of competition and determination. His hard work was acknowledged with Esso awarding him four dealership agencies, against their principle of ‘one individual, one agency’.

Upright dealing from day one

Bhau’s business acumen was evident from the very beginning. He started his business under favourable circumstances. The then finance minister, Morarjee Desai, announced a kerosene price hike. The cost of a barrel (200 litres) went up from Rs. 58 to Rs. 85. However, he did not try to make a fortune by withholding supplies for a day. In fact, he did just the opposite. He had a big board placed outside his shop, which simply said that kerosene would be available at the old rates. The word spread like wildfire and it was not long before residents and shopkeepers alike started queuing up outside his shop. Nearly 50 percent of his stock was sold off in a day. While he might have missed out on making a fast buck, he had effectively capitalized on an opportunity and earned the lasting goodwill of the people of Jalgaon.
Bhau, through Esso’s help got himself acquainted with the pros and cons of fierce marketing battles and cutthroat competition. He got the necessary exposure to the various administrative and accounting policies and procedures of this foreign oil company. Thus he gained an insight into the working of this multinational company. The business strategies, policies, procedures and practices presently followed by the Corporation in every aspect of business operations / establishment clearly bear the stamp of Esso’s norms, functioning and outlook. For example, Esso had a drop shaped symbol. Jain Irrigation has a water drop as its symbol. Haibatrao characterised in Jain Pipe ads is similar to Esso’s ‘Happy’ mascot. For that matter even the Jain Brothers logo is reminiscent of ideas which have gone deep into the subconscious mind of Bhau.
But hard work and determination apart, what differentiated Bhau from other successful businessmen was his integrated approach. The integrated approach paid dividends: From oil, they got into selling auto spares, lubricating oil and domestic gas. Soon Jains became known for dealing in genuine auto spares in Jalgaon. Later they began trading in cars and trucks as sub-agents for Standard Motor Company and Ashok Leyland. This integrated approach is being followed even today by the Jain group.
In an effort to encash on the relationship with the farming community, Bhau further expanded his business horizons to include farm inputs. In a short span of five years (1973-78), the company secured dealerships of nationally acclaimed fertilizer manufacturers such as Zuari Agro, Adarsh, Indian Potash and FCI, now known as RCF. In order to develop an integrated service network and approach, the company also obtained dealerships for hybrid seeds and represented National Seeds Corporation, Indo American Seeds, E. I. D. Parry and Gujarat State Seeds Corporation. As for the sale of pesticides, the company dealt with ICI, Ciba-Geigy, Hoechst and others.

Year 1963 – 1978 Trading

Business Consolidation

In a span of one and a half decades, 1963 – 1978, a firm foundation for a lasting enterprise with a vital difference was laid. The grooming and the ground work was gained at the hands of versatile distinguished marketeers, drawn as they were from diverse industrial fields such as petroleum, automotive and agriculture. A family owned enterprise was shaped to become a corporate institution. The opening team acquired consummate marketing skills, versatility to build different businesses, and a businesslike approach towards trading partners. These attributes were additions to the innate qualities of thrift, hard work, simple family living, and commitment towards social responsibility.

Year 1978 - 1990

Beginning of Industrial Establishment

Around this time (1977-78) an opportunity came up in the form of a factory that made banana powder. The factory which was to be run by a cooperative, never really took off despite the fact that it was equipped with the best of machinery. It had started with a modest capital base of Rs. 5 lakh and the total losses of the company had by the end of 1977 gone up to Rs. 23 lakhs. When the factory was put on the auction block, he bought it for Rs 30 lakh.
The buyers, sellers and manufacturers of Papain were a small world. There were no more than three manufacturers of Refined Papain and not more than a dozen suppliers of crude Papain in the world. The purchasers of Papain were also very limited, not exceeding about fifteen. The total market size was not more than 50 tonnes of Purified Papain or about 150 tonnes of Crude Papain per annum. In terms of current value, the total market was about US$ 4 to 5 million. The purchasers used to buy in wholesale and make onward sale by making Papain a part of the formulation, generally sold as a package. The major user of Papain was the brewery industry and the wholesalers had direct links with them. They supplied Papain to the brewery as one of the additives, along with many other additives they dispensed, for the production and improvement of Beer. It is, therefore, not possible to sell only Papain directly to the end users. Other smaller uses of Papain include meat tenderising, pet-food preparations, and in pharmaceuticals – as a digestive enzyme. Papain was also used in smaller quantities for the cleaning of contact lens.

Foray into pipes and Expansion

Eventually there was a sharp decline in the demand for Papain. The operation became unviable. Therefore, after a successful run of 24 years, the company finally decided to discontinue processing of Papaya latex into Papain in April 2002.
The demand for PVC pipe was growing at a fast rate, since Government and semi-government bodies had also commenced their use for drinking water supplies as well as sanitation. PVC pipes had proved advantageous over conventional steel pipes, hence the fast growing demand.
In 1980, Jains started making PVC Pipes to overcome supply constraints from existing vendors. Today, we are the #1 Plastic Pipe manufacturers in India, covering a wide range of pipes and fittings. We produce pipes for a wide range of applications from water transportation to gas and optical fibre. We are the only company who manufacture wide diameter pipes of 1.6 mt for water transportation.
Jains introduced micro irrigation to India in 1986 and have done pioneering work in the field since then. The company used a combination of aggressive marketing and thorough field investigations to hit the front ranks in the drip irrigation business. The Green Revolution had transformed large tracts which were under dry-land farming. Moreover, it had generated a new awareness of water management among farmers coupled with dropping water tables that spelt an ideal expanding market waiting to be exploited.
The technological collaboration with James Hardie of Italy helped. The company added a basic research and development effort and created a field investigation set-up to monitor the tailor-made systems. Using CAD-CAM for designing the systems, correlating agronomic and climatology data for framing a proper irrigation system, the Jains brought a degree of professionalism to the market.
Today Jains are the number one micro irrigation company in India, manufacturing the full range of precision irrigation products, spanning drip, sprinkler and turf irrigation. The division provides services from soil and water survey, advice on crop selection, agronomy support, engineering design to turnkey projects.
In its endeavour to support hi-tech agriculture, JISL established a full-fledged Research, Training and Demonstration Institute at Jalgaon, Maharashtra, where every year nearly 45000 farmers, agriculturists and officials visit to observe, learn and share their experiences on the concept of hi-tech agriculture and horticulture. Here scientists work on different crops, undertake seed breeding programmes, develop new varieties, develop new agronomy practices and advice and train farmers in adopting technologies on their farms for successful commercial farming.

Year - 1991

Plastic Sheets Manufacturing

A state-of-the-art plastic sheets manufacturing facility equipped with "Cincinnatti Milacron" and "Omipa" machinery & equipment was established at Jalgaon in 1991. These globally marketed plastic sheets serve as a substitute for wood panels for use in making of furniture, doors, windows, partition blocks, roofing and signage etc. This is also in tune with the Jain philosophy of sustainable practices; to help conserve forests by providing alternatives to wood. Jains are today, the only manufacturer of PVC & Polycarbonate sheets under one roof in South East Asia.

Our Failures – Attempts at diversification

The following were projects started by us but we were not successful in them, as we ventured into areas alien to our fundamental business and suffered tremendous losses:
• IT & Telecommunications Project – 1994
• Publicity & Multimedia Project – 1994
• Merchant Banking & Stock Broking – 1994
• Granite Quarrying & Processing – 1994
• PC Mirrorising & Thermoforming – 1995
• WS Liquid Fertiliser Manufacturing – 1995
It takes rare courage to accept mistakes and own up one’s responsibility in private life and even more so in corporate life. In a move unprecedented in the corporate world, Bhau openly displayed it in the publication of "I’m sad, I’m happy, I’m confident" a half page advertisement in The Economic Times. The Founder-Chairman of the Jain Group apologized to his investors.
"I am sad, that for the first time since our inception, we have fared badly. We ventured into unknown areas like finance, information technology and granite at the cost of our core business. I feel it is my duty to account for, to own up, to admit my misjudgments, to apologise."
Such transparent communication went a long way in generating goodwill and confidence among investors and shareholders. The Jain Group went through three agonizing years before emerging out of the woods.
Another transparent communication was Bhau’s letter ‘Eclipse Cleared’ dated March 15, 2000 addressed to his dealers and distributors. A few excerpts are reproduced below:
Eclipse Cleared
Our company has sustained colossal losses during the past three years. Every stakeholder bore the brunt of this loss – be they customers, dealers/distributors, general as well as core promoter shareholders, creditors, banks and financial institutions, or suppliers, associates, government and the society at large. The atmosphere was agog with rumours, defamation, backbiting and calumny. It was a nightmare. During this period, we felt neglected, faced ridicule, deception, indifference and at times humiliation. We had to face situations not dreamt of before. Personal property, whatever little it was, including family ornaments, had to be either pledged or sold. While doing all this, there was fleeting anxiety whether or not we will get through this ordeal.
A few acquaintances, relatives and friends volunteered help but by and large we had to fight our own lonely battle. Rock solid and sustained support did come from our dealers / distributors and our customers, both domestic and overseas. Notwithstanding the inconveniences experienced by them, they never turned their back on us. Associates also took their turn. However, the saving grace came, though belatedly, from banks and financial institutions. Amongst the banks and financial institutions, the State Bank of India, the United Western Bank, ICICI and SICOM did go an extra mile and took a conscious decision to assist the company in every possible. Local banks and credit societies also extended their helping hand in their own way and within their limits.
The eclipse has cleared. Let us forge our way with renewed vigour, zeal and fortitude.
Bhavarlal Jain,
Jalgaon

This letter was clearly a masterstroke! We turned the corner. The rest as they say is history.

Year - 1994

Banana Tissue Culture Propagation

Banana Tissue Culture Propagation at Jains commenced in 1994 and is the number one in the world today, producing in excess of 40 million plantlets (including Banana, Pomegranate, Onion etc.). The Tissue Culture lab is supported by a full-fledged biotech lab which undertakes research on various crops, maintains a gene bank of various fruits and vegetables and also tests and certifies all of the planting material for authenticity and disease free nature. By helping farmers to adopt new technologies and agri practices, Jains ensure that farmers achieve higher yields.

Onion & Vegetable Dehydration Plants

The Onion & Vegetable Dehydration plants were set up in 1994 to produce high yielding and processable varieties of Onions, Mango and Tomato. Special varieties of Onion and Vegetables are contract grown in vicinity of the dehydration plants. The cultivation and harvesting is supervised by our agronomists, who also provide agronomical guidance to the contract growers. The raw onions and vegetables are harvested, graded and then transported to the plants. The product range includes White Onion, Red Onion, Garlic, Leek and Bell Pepper, in sliced, diced, chopped, granulated, powdered and toasted forms.

Polyethylene Pipe Manufacturing

The Polyethylene Pipe manufacturing division at Jains began operations in 1994. Range of pipe sizes in various Thermoplastics starts from 3mm dia. to 1000mm dia that can be installed on surface, buried, slip lined, trench less, floating and submerged. Fluids transported include, water, waste-water, compressed gases / air, odorous and corrosive gasses, chemicals and hazardous wastes / effluents. Solids conveyed include coal ash, slurries, sand and cables.
At Jains, whatever we manufacture we have aligned with conservation, Water & Energy conservation and nature protection with our products like Plastic Piping Systems, Solar Water heating Systems, Micro Irrigation Systems, Food Processing and Plastic Sheets.
Our unending efforts in the pursuit of excellence appropriately blended with our ongoing Research and Development efforts have earned the Company the highest R & D awards of the country and numerous other recognitions & awards for their performance in Exports and Marketing. The various Units manufacturing thermoplastic piping systems in Jain Irrigation Systems Limited have been accredited with ISO 9001 certification. We have an R & D laboratory with a vast range of routine test facilities in addition to many other sophisticated equipment with state-of-the-art technology.

Solar Water Heater Fabrication Set up

The Solar water heater fabrication unit set up in 1994 with the objective of encouraging use of renewable energy rather than be dependent on electricity. These are safe, reliable, and easy-to-maintain and importantly they are eco-friendly providing years of trouble free service. The Solar water heater product range included: Flat plate collector and Evacuated tube collector.

Year - 1996

Fruit processing Facility Commissioned

The Fruit Processing facility was established in the year 1996 with one Aseptic Line at Jalgaon, India in the heart of the Banana and Mango growing region. The business has grown over the years with two more plants at Chittoor, in Andhra Pradesh, India and a total of 10 Aseptic Lines, 1 freezing Line, 1 Canning Line and 1IQF Line. Between the three plants, Jains process 150,000 MT of Mangoes and 100,000 MT of other fruits. Apart from Mango, Jains process fruits such as Banana, Guava, Tomato and Papaya. Jains account for more than 35% of the Mangoes processed in India and is the number one processor in the world. The company also operates a dedicated Pomegranate processing line and is the first to offer Pomegranate juice and juice concentrates from India.
The Food division occupies an important place in the Company’s unique business model of integrated farming. The company provides hi-tech agri inputs to farmers such as systems for water conservation, high yielding, disease free planting material, agronomy support, energy solutions for agriculture and training and buys back the surplus produce to add value and sell the same in local and international markets, thereby completing the agri value chain.
This division markets its products under its ‘FarmFresh’ brand. It has marketing offices/officials covering the entire globe with warehousing in Europe and US.
Recently, the division has added Sleaford Quality Foods Ltd., a speciality spice blending and distribution company in UK to its fold.

Year - 2000

Solar Photovoltaic Appliances

JISL had started Solar appliance manufacturing in 2000. Its product range covers Solar street lights, Solar Lantern, Solar home lighting system and Solar power packs. All luminary molding and Pcb design & manufacturing is done inhouse. Jain has automatic Pcb manufacturing machines. All appliances comply with MNRE standards and tested at CPRI, TUV & UL. The manufacturing facility is ISO & OHSAI certified. Jain is empanelled for Solar appliances by Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

Jain PV Module manufacturing plant

Jain Irrigation Sytems Ltd. started its in-house module manufacturing plant of 55 MW capacity in 2010. This manufacturing facility is ISO and OHSAS certified. Most of the operations are done with automatic machines using latest technology. Modules of 5-310 Wp are manufactured in this plant. Jains high efficiency modules are used for different applications like solar water pumping, solar off grid plant, solar grid connected plants, high capacity solar pumping systems and solar petrol pumps.
Jain modules qualify following certifications IEC 61215, IEC 61730 and IEC 61701. Jain Irrigation System Ltd. is MNRE channel partner and also empanelled by MNRE for various solar products.
Jain provides manufacturing defects and workmanship warrantee of 5 years and power production (limited warrantee) of 90% for 10 years and 80 % for 25 years.



Year - 2004

Pilot Plant for Bio-gas & Green Energy initiated

The Pilot Plant for Biogas & Green Energy was set up in 2004 to recycle the wastage resulting from the fruit processing division. At this plant all the solid waste (agricultural & fruit processing waste) is converted into energy and bio-fertiliser.

Motto behind setting up a Bio-Methanation Plant

The purpose of the Bio-Methanation Plant is to utilize organic waste and produce biogas to be used as fuel in gas based engines. The Plant is generating 1.668MW gross power which is grid interactive captive consumption purpose. Not only will the plant help in making use of biomass wastes into energy, it will also replace the use of fossil fuels that would have been used for power generation in the absence of the Plant. Waste disposal, which is a serious concern (since it requires large dumping lands and can also lead to foul odor and pollution), will also be addressed as an integral part of the project. Above all, it accomplishes the stated mission of our visionary and respectable Chairman Shri. Bhavarlal Hiralal Jain "Bhau" of "Leave this World better than you found it"

Process Description

The Biogas power plant was commissioned on 9thJuly 2010 with a design capacity of 1.668 MW. The power plant was constructed in-house with technical assistance from a German Engineering House. The bio-Methanation plant can treat over 200 MT/day of mixed organic wastes and generate electric power from Biogas.
The biogas power plant is a two-phased, controlled temperature (mesophilic range) Bio-Methanation process. The waste acquired from the fruit processing facility is received, crushed and mixed in mixing tanks thoroughly and homogenized into uniform slurry before feeding into a series of Hydrolysis tanks. The indigestible parts such as stones and highly fibrous material is separated and taken to a bio-mass boiler. Within the Hydrolysis tanks, aerobic micro-organisms break down the complex biomaterials into simpler forms such as sugars and acids. The process then proceeds to anaerobic digester tanks, where anaerobic micro-organisms, principally composed of methanogens (micro-organisms capable of generating methane as an end product of their metabolism) consume the volatile fatty acids and sugars to generate Biogas. The biogas is cleaned in Biological scrubbers and stored in gas buffers or balloons before transferring to specially designed Biogas engines via blowers. These engines convert biogas into electric power (1.668 MW), which is then synchronized with the grid network, with sufficient protection at the substation so as to ensure internal consumption (prevent seepage beyond JISL). Vapour Absorption Machine (VAM) absorb waste heat and provide 400 tones of refrigeration (TR) to cool the Solar PV manufacturing Unit and 27 Onion cold storage chambers (Onion dehydration plant). The digested slurry from the Biogas digesters is an enriched source of nutrients such as Nitrogen, dissolved phosphate among others. This is then taken for composting process in composting yard, and converted to soil conditioner.A flowchart is given in Fig.1.
Fig.1. Basic process flow diagram of unit processes in Biogas power plant
The power plant has been recognized by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as "first of its kind" project in India to treat diverse agro based products. The power plant has also obtained approval for Renewable Energy Certification (REC). The Biogas power project has generated additional employment for over 50 local associates in the power generation and fertilizer unit. The project reduces carbon footprint by converting methane to energy and improves soil health by generating good quality organic manure. By generating electrical energy and refrigeration along with heat recovery, the project has significantly lowered fossil fuel dependency. Any technology that reduces the dependence on fossil fuels is a significant eco-friendly technology that can be touted as being highly essential. This is because fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal and natural gas are actually stored carbons present deep in the earth. Their sudden use as fossil fuels exhausts these carbons directly into the atmosphere greatly increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
In a typical natural cycle, Carbon is trapped by vegetation from the atmosphere and re-released to the atmosphere and soil. The Biogas Power plant taps this natural cycle and generates Biogas. Any carbon that is released is only within the limits of carbon that would have been released to the atmosphere by the natural cycle. Thus, it is an environmentally friendly and socially responsible project that is a highly sustainable venture.

Year - 2005

Pilot Scale Bio-fuel plant erected

For further enhancement of farm productivity and sustainability, JISL embarked upon an integrated programme of (a) cultivation of non-edible oil crops, (b) seed collections, (c) seed oil extraction (d) esterification and (e) supply Bio-diesel for tractors, irrigation pumps, threshers and other agricultural implements as well as vehicles. This will reduce farmers’ dependence on the availability of diesel or electricity for agricultural operations in rural areas.

Year - 2010

Solar Pumping Systems

Jain Irrigations Systems Ltd. had started pump manufacturing plant in 2010. Jain is the only company which manufactures all Solar pump components right from solar modules, solar trackers, pump controllers and BLDC as well as AC pump sets. Jain is a pioneer in providing complete solar pumping solutions for domestic, agriculture, large irrigation and water supply schemes.
Jain Solar pump manufacturing portfolio covers following components of solar pumping system
• Brushless DC motor- 3 to 5 hp
• Pump end
• BLDC pump controller
• AC pump controller
• Remote monitoring system
• Solar Trackers
• Column and coil pipe
As on date Jain is the largest company who supplied more than 18000 Solar pumps across India. Jain had installed the largest single solar pump of capacity 50 hp and installed 245 hp solar pumping station for lift irrigation scheme in Punjab.

Jain Irrigation acquired two new companies

Sleaford – a agri processing distribution company based in UK. Sleaford Quality Foods is a leading supplier of high quality ingredients to leading food manufacturing and foodservice companies.
Point Source Irrigation, USA - PSI, located in Fresno, CA, is responsible for all sales and customer support in the USA. In addition, the company runs a production site for driplines and fittings. The wholly owned subsidiary overlooks a number of testing sites for new and upgraded lines.

Year - 2011

We acquired Protool, Switzerland based equipment manufacturing company.

Year - 2012

We acquired White Oak, USA, a frozen food company. In addition to its traditional line of Reduced Moisture IQF Vegetables, White Oak Frozen Foods can also produce conventional IQF Peppers (Bell Peppers, No-Heat Jalapenos, Poblanos & Anaheim Chilies) Onions and Tomatoes (both Natural and Steam Peeled).

Year - 2014

We acquired Gavish Control System Ltd., a micro Irrigation Company based in Israel. Gavish is a leading company in the field of control systems for the agricultural market. It produces software and equipment that operates, monitors and controls many functions within greenhouses, dairy farms and fish farms. Gavish’s three major product lines are: GreenLine, DairyLine and AquaLine.

Year - 2015

We acquired Driptech, a MIS company. Driptech offers products which deliver the benefits of drip irrigation technology at affordable costs.
We also commenced Jain Plumbing Piping System. Jain Plumbing pipes and fittings systems offer multiple solutions to plumbing requirements. Jain Plumbing pipes and fittings systems are manufactured from 100% virgin raw material, are durable, reasonable in price with unmatched quality standards.

Year - 2016

We ventured into retail business with the launch of AAMRUS. Aamrus is frozen sweetened mango pulp, 100% natural. No preservatives, colours or flavours are added. It is available 365 days in two variants – Alphonso and Kesar. Jain Farm Fresh Foods Limited (JFFFL) a subsidiary of Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. has the most controlled modern, world-class fruit processing facility setup at Jalgaon. Selected varieties of Onion, Vegetables, Banana, Guava, Mango, Pomegranate, Aonlas, Papaya and Tomato puree are grown in the farms and processed in the plant.
We also launched Smart Clean Automatic Screen Filter.

Year - 2017

We have acquired the technology and core team of Australian Observant Pty Ltd, (“Observant”). Observant is a world leader in providing in-field hardware and cloud based applications for precision farm water management. The acquisition will combine Observant’s broad field monitoring and control technology with Jain’s global irrigation manufacturing and precision agriculture technology platform to provide farmers with a broad suite of capabilities to increase crop yields while, at the same time, responsibly and profitably manage limited resources.

Not employees but associates

Infrastructural bottlenecks, paucity of skilled manpower, a non-existent pool of professional and talented management people, were but a few challenges that an industrialist based in an industrially backward rural India has to cope with. Bhau had to devise his own methods of "creating his own men". For this he had to unlearn what he had studied in his academic life and observed in his subsequent business life. He had come across mainly three models of management – Government run public sector, large MNCs of the likes of Esso or large corporates such as Escorts. Nowhere in these models could he fit his enterprise. He therefore developed new processes, novel methodologies for recruitment and retention of whatever human resources were available in this undeveloped area.
Indeed, he developed a distinct culture for growing a relationship with each person from the bottom to the top of the organisation - He never treated them any different. After cultivating a relationship, he tried an experiment to study if commitment could take the place of competence, and whether hard work could replace lack of job-knowledge. It was difficult. Even simple things like time-discipline and task-discipline had to be inculcated in these simple people, drawn from the agrarian society.
One thing was certain. He loved these people. And they in turn came to love him, and finally revere him, thus strengthening their bond. It was soon discovered that these ordinary people could do extra-ordinary work. The international and national laurels that followed have their seeds in this basic unique philosophy of building trust and relationships rather than treating people like employees.

 

 

Bhavarlal Jain (Bhau)
         
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