Roti (or chapattis) is India’s staple food. And in Gujarat, khakhra is a much-favoured daily breakfast snack. Nimesh Pithava of Bharuch saw a business opportunity in the humble rotis and khakras. He thought a step beyond and envisioned making a product which could make rotis and khakhras, and here he is, making a statement with Qualimark Machines Pvt Ltd – today, a leader in export of khakhra and chapatti-making machines to several countries.
Driven by innovation and perseverance, the firm has consistently scaled newer heights under the leadership of Nimesh, an alumnus of the PGDM-BE batch of 2013-15. Recently, the organization bagged the Best MSME Award 2014-15, in the category ‘Innovation in Technology’, by the Government of Gujarat.
True to its name, Qualimark has been producing the best quality khakhra and chapatti-making machines at their 25,000-sqft manufacturing unit, supported by state-of-the-art R&D centre, spanning 5,000 sqft. With constant hauling and technological upgradation, the company has stepped up on the ladders of growth and success, and at the same time, has set very high standards for its competitors.
Nimesh’s family had the traditional business of making khakhras. Nimesh, too, grew up amid the business chores. After completing graduation, he decided to pursue an MBA degree and cultivate knowledge on the concepts of business. He believed that an MBA would not only brush his skills but will also give him the right platform to transform his vision into reality. He heard about EDII and the specialisation of family business management that it was offering, and decided to apply.
It was at the institute that Nimesh’s plans for his business were crystallised. Recalling his earlier days at EDII, Nimesh shares, “I had seen my father doing business in an era when business was the fiefdom of few. Growing up in a culture of buying and selling, I always knew I would not be doing a conventional job. I could never see myself doing one.”
Talking about the impetus he received at the institute, Nimesh nostalgically says, “EDII’s role has been vital in shaping up the entrepreneur in me. The curriculum’s entire focus was on business and in those days, family business management was a unique course. I joined the same, thinking that I will get to learn new things and get new ideas to grow my family business.”
Whatever Nimesh has achieved in life, he attributes major credit of the same to EDII. He recalls that he started exporting immediately after having studied international marketing in one of the classes. He was taught about the Engineering Export Promotion Council of India (EEPC) and registered with them. Soon after, he expanded his family business overseas, by exporting their products to other countries. Peer study, brainstorming, business environment, etc. made his thoughts clearer and steady. Talking about the professors, Nimesh fondly remembers, “The professors at EDII had been very supportive and complacent. I would especially thank them and other guest faculty who, time and again, supported my ideas and guided me about how to venture with them. Even the smallest of the ideas were implemented in consultation with them.”
On a personal front, Nimesh has sacrificed a lot to get Qualimark to the level it has now reached. Over the past few years, finding time for family has been the major challenge. His absence at family functions and long work hours have led to familial stress several times; although, he shares that his family and wife have been extremely supportive of his profession. They understand his commitment to work and have thus stood by him through the thick and thin. Nimesh also shares that his father had played a key role in his life and career. When Nimesh was taking over the reins of business in his hands, his father had disagreed with him on a lot of fronts but, never came in Nimesh’s way. Instead, he always gave Nimesh a free hand in exercising control and freedom in decisions.
Another hurdle that Nimesh faced in the initial times was that of legal and government procedures, rules and regulations. Initially, it was difficult for him to understand government’s policies and procedures, so much so, that once his firm’s VAT number was surrendered for about three months. Once or twice, the company also faced financial crises but subsequently, it sailed on.
Today, Qualimark has embossed its name firmly in the arena of food processing products. With its clientele in over 19 states and 15 countries, the firm is constantly innovating and upgrading technology in food processing. Their vision is to reach a turnover of Rs 100-crore over the next ten years. During FY17, the company’s turnover stood at ₹4 crore and for FY18, the returns are expected to touch Rs 10 crore. With aggressive marketing and reaching out to more cities and states by opening up sales offices there, Qualimark is striving to meet its endeavours everyday. The company already has its offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur and Bengaluru.
Nimesh transformed a traditional family business into a full-fledged international exports’ firm. Talking about the future plans, Nimesh speaks, “Till now, the firm was only making niche products but now we plan to diversify our line of products and therefore, tap larger customer base in both India and overseas. We plan to involve aggressive marketing rather than just relying on IndiaMart’s enquiries. To help meet our objectives, we are participating in more expos than ever now. The present manufacturing unit will also be shifted to a bigger, 48,000-sqft industrial land in Bharuch. The R&D centre will be expanded and bulk supply of food products will be undertaken. Apart from this, we are also focussing on expanding our dealer network. Hiring of learned and efficient staff, to help meet our objectives, is another area in focus.”
He adds, “Every half year, we will launch a new product. Very soon, we will also be launching products for making chakris, theplas and khakhra chips – a never-tried before snack.” Nimesh concludes with a warm smile.