Godrej Legacy and Winning in India


January 25, 2015

Post by


The talk titled “ Godrej Legacy and Winning in India” was delivered by Nadir Godrej at Enterprise Dubai 2014 on December 20th, 2014.


It started with our illustrious founder
‘We couldn’t have asked for someone sounder
Thoughjust a lawyer by Profession,
Invention was a strong obsession.
His first case was in Zanzibar
And though he proved to be a star,
The fact that he was forced to lie,
Then made him feel he could not ply
This dubious practice any more,
As honesty was at his core.
So values played a role for sure
We will ensure that they endure.
Now Mahatma Gandhi was a friend.
And self-rule then, the future trend.

Ardeshir once just Pointed out
That he still had a serious doubt
That profound economic dependence
Might well preclude our independence-
A point the Mahatma then conceded
But rather promptly he Proceeded
To turn the tables on his friend
And asked him to work to that end’
And so he started up his venture
Which proved to be quite an adventure.
Ardeshir’s focus was invention
His single-minded intention
Was proving that he could do it’
He could succeed and he knew it.
For Indian goods could be the best
Surpass the British by every test.
He scorned the thought of protection
And chose to prevail by perfection’
And that he knew he could achieve.
His customers could all Perceive
His products were the very best
And constantly Put to the test.
To greater heights he would aspire
His safes survived ordeal by fire.
Once, in the harbor, a ship exploded.
Though outer walls of safes eroded,
The inner contents were all intact.
And even when thieves attacked
They could barely pit and dent,
Sometimes, the plates were slightly bent.
But the safes would never break
And so the thieves could never take
Any goods his safes had secured.
For years and years his fame endured.
There was no limit to his scope.
He worked as hard in tackling soap for
many years he tried his hand
Until he could well understand
The ins and outs of making soap.
To vegetarians he gave hope.
The other makers were all callow
And made their soaps from lard and tallow,
Not prime but rendered in the street
With the stink of rotten meat.
But thanks to his determined toil
Fine soap could now be made from oil.

Ardeshir was a butterfly
And each new flower he would try,
While flitting there deeply drink.
But then he would always think
It’s time to try another flower.
And yes, he had the wondrous Power
To range quite far and still excel.
By now I’m sure that you can tell
That Ardeshir could fly and soar,
But often found it quite a bore
To build a home that would last.
For that role he wasn’t cast.
Ardeshir was an inventor-seer
Quite confident, free from fear.

Pirojsha was the one who built
An institution that would not tilt,
Standing straight and standing tall
Answering a higher call.
Both brothers helped build the nation
On the back of innovation.
All this transpired long ago
At first the growth was rather slow
But the group still succeeded
In bringing products that were needed.
And perhaps the Godrej star
Was the eponymous almirah.

The second generation did its bit
There was a managerial split
In engineering Naval held sway
In soaps my father led the way.
And Sohrab was the Public face
And many causes he led with grace-
My brother joined in’63
And from that point one could see
The influence of MBAs.
The advent of professional ways.
The economy gave us little scope
With the license Raj there was no hope.
The growth was slow but rather steady
And in a sense we were quite ready
For the coming liberation.
This was a time of Preparation.
Now consumer goods were less protected
‘We weren’t very badly affected
‘When competition levels rose
For we had enjoyed a healthy dose
Of competition with Unilever
which made us a firm believer
In fighting costs to compete.
Yet could we bear the increased heat?
To hedge our bets we formed JVs
With partners from overseas
But not the kind that last till death.
We learnt a lot and held our breath.
And as our partners went their way
We bought them out, again held sway.
The portfolio looks diversified
But much of what we have tried
Was something that we slipped into.
For animal feed this proved quite true.
For compound feed there seemed no need.
Then Burjor sought out L &T
Together they had tried to see,
lf any market might exist.
There were no takers on their list.
Thus forced to make a clean swipe
They were then left with a prototype.
A discount customer was sought
And Godrej were the ones who bought.
Serendipity and not a vision
Helped us start the feed division.
My father hated LAB.
Even then he could clearly see
The need for products truly green.
And so we made natural AO
The concept, though, was a no go
But Fatty Alcohol came in our fold
This precursor was pure gold.
Import duties then were high
And palm oil duty scraped the sky.
We quickly seized the opportunity
Of introducing the Oil Palm tree.
And at that time the DBT
Served as the nodal agency
And Godrej was the biggest Player
Then everyone was a naysayer
But after the commodity boom
The business did begin to zoom.
Quite clearly I must now state

Our move into Real Estate
Was a conscious decision.
Arising from a clear vision
That the Godrej brand could provide
A cure for the shortcomings decried
By all and quite rightly so.
As a result we could quickly grow
And will surely continue to do so
If we persist with what we know
Is right and maintain the trust
Of customers through boom and bust.
Thus many engines will help to fire
The growth to which we now aspire’
And hence our future will be bright
If we always keep in sight
The Godrej vision 2020.
India will be a land of Plenty.
The economy will quickly grow
And some of this is bound to flow
Into each and every SBU
Even if we do nothing new!
But if our strategy is right
‘We can reach a greater height.

And this we call our l0 x 10.
Our claim then will be very bold
In ten years’ time we’ll grow tenfold!
Now this can easily be stated.
But how is it to be created?
We have a Mantra that is great
Our Mantra simply is CREATE.
CP and Chemicals are C
And Real Estate the RE.
While the sun shines we’ll make hay
With agriculture which is our A.
And Transformation is our T
And Emerging businesses are E.
Right now we have retail and food
ln time, some more, could be pursued.
Our brand was strong but slightly frayed
Always trusted but rather staid.
To ensure our survival
We engaged in brand revival.
Our values would be paramount
And when in doubt naught else should count.
Our older values must sustain
But newer values we should gain.
And so we will acquire Progression
Empathy, Experience and Expression.
For shared values there’s Good and Green.
Being Green can really help the nation
And we must start with conservation
Of energy, water, habitat.
But then we shouldn’t stop at that.
I see the strongest synergy
In pushing greener energy.
There’s biomass for Agrovet.
And very soon I would bet
That solar costs would quickly drop
And if incentives do not stop
The Group would then find it fit
To invest and do it’s bit.
And we can benefit the nation
While reducing our taxation.
There is Green and then there’s Good.
And it is clearly understood
Our best bet here is education
It’s good for us and the nation.
And sales is where I’m sure we’ll start.
But other domains could be a part
Of what it is we’d like to teach.
And many more we should reach.
We should remember as we grow
That big is strong but could be slow.
‘We must acquire the ability
To act with great agility.

If we do all that is expected,
If our brand is well respected
lf all stakeholders benefit t,
Our strategy would be a hit!
Last year our economy was in a mess
We had every kind of stress.
The Rupee plunged into free fall.
The down grade threat was held by all.
Corruption scams in both 2G
And coal were there for all to see.
The Government was held at fault
And allocations were called to a halt.
The bureaucrats were then all scared,
Approvals nixed with none being spared.
As though these weren’t sufficient hits
We contended with thriving deficits!
Within the passing of a year
One senses there is much less fear.
The Government is on the job
No one thinks they’re out to rob.
Reforms are slowly coming through
We have already had a few
And more are clearly on the way.
We are the flavor of the day.

Investments now are steadily pouring
The SENSEX too has started soaring.
The long, contentious commodity boom,
For our economy, had spelled doom.
Both deficits were aggravated.
And all our prices were inflated.
Our commodity intensity’s very high
A fact that no one can deny.
The RBI was then deluded
For no reason it concluded
High demand was to blame.
To my mind a specious claim.
Commodity prices, which we can’t control,
Clearly play the major role.
Demand suppression isn’t nice
It has no influence on price
But reduces growth considerably.
But fortunately we now see
The end of the commodity boom
And so for us, the end of gloom.
All commodities were on the boil
Across the board and not just oil.
Both Deficits are coming down
Inflation no longer makes us frown.
And we can be very sure
That it will fall even more.
The RBI is slowly bending
And finally it is sending
Some signals with its dovish talk
But now we need not talk but walk.

Why are they holding out?
What is this all about?
Is it that they bear a grudge?
Or do they want to give a nudge?
Some say the reason t’or the fit
Is the budget deficit.
But 4% is not so high
For India and the reason why
Is that the Government is asset rich
With stocks, spectrum, land all of which
Could be sold now, or later,
When the value would be greater.
Forget the bug bear of inflation
This is the time for stimulation!
Eventually they’ll take the call
And once interest rates begin to fall,
We will see the end of gloom.
We will see the longest boom.
Next year India will do much better
Than China that passé go getter.
China now is rapidly aging,
Just as rising India’s staging
The greatest growth in its working force.
Our growth is not ensured of course.
The demographic dividend
Can be encashed if we now spend
On improving education
A dire need in our nation.
With the help of online learning
All our millions could be earning.
On energy progress is seen.
And we will rapidly go green.
Shortages will disappear
All will be linked, do not fear.
Some of course will join the grid
But we will also make a bid
To use off-grid for access
With lower costs we’ll see success.
“Make in India” is the latest buzz
We’ll have to see what Government does.
They’ll soon reform the labor laws
Take up the ease of business cause.
Our share of manufacturing’s low
Further decline we can slow.
But manufacturing’s had its day
And I’m not sure there is a way
To reach Twenty-Five per cent.
I think support should be lent
To every sector equally
And balanced growth is what we’ll see.
They’ll monetize the subsidies
And finally the growth will cease
Of the ever mounting bill.
I sincerely hope they also will
Target only those in need.
With these two measures they’ll succeed
In lowering the subsidy cost
Before enormous sums are lost.
And greater progress we will see
Once we have our GST.
Evasion will no longer pay
Higher revenue will save the day.
No border payments will be due,
Trucks now idling, will sail through.
Warehousing costs will decline
And the economy wilt do just fine.
And if reforms are really strong
The boom will prove to be quite long.
The chances are the India story
Will bring us all fame and glory.
Do not wait to probe and test
This is the time to invest.