Every person in this world, especially in India has used the Godrej manufactured products. Though hardly any knows about the founder of the Godrej Group. Ardeshir Burjorji Sorabji Godrej is the man behind this company, which is almost more than 120 years old. Today, the company has gained a global reputation.
The Early Life Of Ardeshir Godrej
Ardeshir was born to Dosibai Gootherajee and Burjorji in Bombay in 1868. His father and grandfather were well off and had a real estate business. This Parsi-Zorastian family, now famous as Gogrej was earlier knows as the Gootherajee’s Family. Ardeshir married Bachubai in 1890 but lost her the very next year in a mishap that happened in the Rajabai Tower. He never remarried but stayed focused on his career. It was in 1894, he graduated with a law degree and was immediately hired by a prestigious law firm to fight a case in Zanzibar. He withdrew from the case and soon realized he is not meant for law and decided to come back to India and join a pharmacy as an assistant chemist. He gained interest in manufacturing the instruments used in surgical and hence decided to take a loan from his fathers’ friends, Merwanji Muncherji Cama rather than that from his father. On asking, why did he do so, he said his father would have given him the money as a gift and not a loan. Being the man of principles, Ardeshir did not even inherit his father’s business, even on his father’s demise.
The Phases Of Ardershir’s Own Business
Phase 1 – His products getting rejected for a silly reason
On receiving INR 3000 from Cama, Ardeshir established a manufacturing unit for surgical equipment. He made sure to add the “Made in India” label in each product and soon started exporting it to England. Despite the product being of high quality the Britishers did not agree to deal with Ardeshir as he being patriotic refused to stop printing the made-in-India label. He chose his country and decided to close down the firm.
Phase 2 – Ardeshir coming up with a new business model
Despite many failures, the young boy did not give up. His destiny changed when he read an article about the felonies that have been happening in his city. It was then when Ardeshir decided to come up with locks of high quality, ensuring the houses to be secured and away from thefts. But due to his failed business, he was still in debt but decided to ask Cama for a second loan. Cama loved the business model of Ardeshir and gave him a second loan without asking about the first.
Phase 3- Establishing “Anchor”
On 7 May 1987, he opened his company- Anchor in central Mumbai. He was just 29 when he founded the firm. He started manufacturing reliable and unbreakable locks that came with a warranty card assuring the quality. Ardeshir’s business was gradually growing and he soon decided to come up with his invention ‘gordian locks’ and ‘detector lock’
It was in 1901 when he decided to manufacture safe that were both burglarproof and bulletproof. The manufacturing of the safe took a lot of effort and rough designs on pen and paper to finally bein out in the market in 1902.
Phase 4 – Entering the international market
In the mid of 1908, Ardeshirs younger brother, Pirsoraj joined hands with him. They were granted a British patent the following year for springless lock, which was the first in the world. This innovation of the brothers brought a lot of fortune to them.
It was in 1910, the two brothers decided to travel to Germany, France, and England for a better understanding of what their competitors manufacture.
Phase 5 – Partnering with Cama’s Nephew
After coming back from the trip, Ardeshir decided to return the amount he took from his father’s friend, Cama. But Cama being the generous man refused to take it he did not want to be deprived of the fact of helping Ardeshir with his success. He instead asked Ardeshir to hire Boyce, his nephew.
Ardeshir being thankful for Cama decided to make Boyce his partner and renamed the company to ‘Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co.’ Cama’s nephew was never interested in working on this firm, so he decided to quit as soon as Ardeshir came back from his Europe trip. It was the kindness of Ardeshir which did not let him retain the companies name.
Phase 6- The loss
Ardeshir learned a lot on his visit to Wolverhampton, England to the Chubs factory and decided to implement it. It was the earthquake in 1908in San Franciso which turned his life. In this calamity, it came across that the safes were not fireproof. The company manufacturing unit continued to be a success until the fire incident that happened in the Dharamshala street of Calcutta in April 1925.
In 1928, Ardeshir decided to move to Nashik and transfer the sole ownership of the company to his brother, Pirojsha.
Phase 7- Creation of Godrej Soaps
Ardeshir in 1919 got fascinated with the making of soaps as it came to his notice that most of the soaps are made using animal fat and it was very difficult for one to find an alternative to it. It was his initiative that gave the world a soap made from vegetable oil, which was fully vegetarian. He got influenced by Shubash Chandra bose and mahatma Gandhi and believed in the concept of “Make in India too”. It was the hard work and love for his country which made him open the soap brand, named Chavi.
The marketing strategy used by Ardeshir was mind-blowing as instead of the tag “Godrej No 1” he launched “Godrej No 2”.It was after 3 years he came with Godrej No1, to prove that it is the best.
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The End Of An Era
It was in the year 1936, Adiraj passed away leaving no heir behind. It was his brother, Pirojashas’s son who inherited the family business. It is the grandson of Pirojashas, Jamshyd, Nadir, and Adi, the third generation who handled the business thereafter.
Adi Godrej – The Current Chairman
After the death of the founder, it was his brothers, his children, and now the grandchildren who are handling the company. Adi Burjori Godrej, the son of Burjorji Godrej is the current chairman of the Godrej Group. He graduated from MIT Slogan with a management degree in 1963. After completing his studies, he came back to join the Godrej Group and was the first-ever business graduate in the firm. It is with his help that the company continued to expand and gain a reputation worldwide.
The Expansion Of The Godrej Group
The world has seen Godrej expanding and evolving. Today the company is divided into ‘Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd’ and ‘Godrej Industries Ltd’. Godrej products are exported to over 80 countries and had a revenue of US$4.1 billion as of 2015 and the current Godrej share price as of 28th April 2021 is approx. 1356 INR as per the reports of NSE (National Stock Exchange of India Ltd.)
Godrej Industries Limited
This company is the biggest manufactures of chemicals that are used by over 25 other companies. Godrej Industries Ltd also manufactures glycerin, fatty oils, edible oils, fatty alcohol, bakery fats, and vanaspati. Till 2001, the company was addressed as Godrej soaps but later it split to Godrej Industries and Godrej Consumer Products. Some of the Godrej properties include Godrej locks, Godrej refrigerator, Godrej furniture, Godrej hair colour. The company has subsidiaries present in more than 4o countries and deals with financial services, agriculture, real estate, chemicals, and consumer goods. The company even works under 4 divisions that are Research and Development, Corporate Audit and Assurance, Corporate HR, and Corporate Finance. The products manufacture by them is sent over to 40 countries across Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia, North America, and South America.
Godrej & Boyce
This is one of the flagship companies that the Godrej group owns. It manufactures vending machines for beverages, security products, AV products, office furniture, safes and cupboards, home security system, refrigerator, air conditioners, washing machines, and locks. The acquisitions and subsidiaries by this group include Godrej Storage Solutions, Godrej Security Solutions, Godrej Precision engineering, Godrej Efacec Automation, and Robotics Ltd, Godrej Interio, and Godrej Infotech.
The Godrej Group’s Philanthropies
The company has always been involved in many social activities and philanthropies. Many residential complexes, dispensaries, and schools including the green business campus in Mumbai have been built by them especially for the employees and their families. Udayachal High School and Godrej Memorial Hospital are also built by them. The Godrej group has also established a lot of trusts and Foundations that focus on healthcare, education, and upliftment of the poor. Many gardens, nurseries, and green environs are built by them to have a green India. The world wildlife fund of India receives donations from the Godrej group every now and then.
The Godrej Group has been built from scratch keeping in mind the love and respect of India. Not only did it gain the trust of Indians but also of the people abroad. Someone, truly said,” Rome wasn’t built in one day”. Similarly, a company like Godrej took years to gain recognition, and today here it is, serving the people for more than a century.
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