He used to sell wire nails by ferrying on a scooter, now owns iron and steel company worth 5 billion
Meet ‘maverick’ Gunwant Singh Saluja, who with his innovative marketing ideas has transformed Mongia Group of Companies into a promising one like the Tatas in Jharkhand, gets an honorary doctorate degree for his industrial management skills
Giridih: A self-made industrialist, Chairman of Mongia Group of Companies, Gunwant Singh Saluja also doubles up as the brand ambassador of his own company. He even sells mineral water just to publicize Mongia. But once upon a time Gunwant Singh used to ferry wire nails on scooter to traverse over 200 kilometers just to sell his product.
The ‘brand ambassador’ has faced more hardship than just ferrying the wire nails on his scooter. During the 1984 riots, post assassination of then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, Santpuria Steels, a steel plant set up by his father was looted and entire family had come to the roads, literally.
But a new chapter began for the company, when Gunwant Singh took complete charge of Santpuria Steel, and founded Mongia Group of Companies in 2003. “Back then our factory used to produce 30 tonnes of steel. But we were unable to market our products. I used to ponder about ways to market our products in a creative way. In 2003, I saw a wall painter doing some painting work for his employer. I took him to my office and asked to do some wall graffiti for our products. So, you see, the first advertisement of our product found place on hundreds of walls across Jharkhand,” he said while speaking to eNewsroom.
However, he realized that mere display of products wouldn’t do the trick, he need a face to sell the product. “I realized that to promote our products we needed a face to promote it. But who would do the advertisement for us? We didn’t have that much money to hire a model to help us build our brand. At that time, I drew inspiration from an old man who used to promote his own brand of masala – the 95-year-old Dharampal Gulati, CEO of MDH Masala. I thought if he could be the face of his brand then why not me,” recalled the 56-year-old industrialist.
Elaborating on his key to success, he said, “I have never compromised on the quality of my product. My first tagline was, Jo Quality Ke Ghodey Pe Baitha Ho Usey Koi Hara Nahi Sakta (A man who rides high on quality will never be defeated), and this slogan is very close to my heart.”
Today, not just his steel plant produces as much as 400 tonnes of steel a day, but he confidently adds that within a year, the production of his company will be double. And the one thing, which is constant is– innovative ideas, he and his team keep doing.
“Recently, we have supplied police barricades for cities like Ranchi and Jamshedpur. We gave 5000 barricades carry the advertisement for our brand Mongia to the police so that it travelers can notice our brand while travelling,” he said. These advertisements have had their impact. For when Mahendra Singh Dhoni had met Gunwant Singh in January, he mentioned having seen barricades with Mongia’s advertisement in Ranchi.
However, now they no longer produce only steel. “We have diversified into producing mineral water. But it might surprise you, if I will reveal that we have done so to promote only Mongia steels,” he revealed with a low laugh.
It cannot be ruled out that Mongia is second known brand after Tata in iron and steel industry, at least in Jharkhand. For this man has also been a subject of research for the Al Musana College of Technology’s Department of Business Studies, Sultanate of Oman. And now comes the icing of the cake in the form of an honorary doctorate degree from Ballsbridge University.
But amid all, there are certain questions that loom in the minds of the locals, like iron and steel factories operating in Giridih, do not prefer localites as employees for various reasons. Clearing the air, he said, “Ninety nine per cent of my employees are local. I believe that whoever works with you, do not create problem. They also need work, hence will not spoil their own job.” Mongia Group of Companies has around 400 employees working for its overall success.
But, how he handles the pollution issue, as most of the sponge iron factories and rolling mills openly violate the pollution norms, he said, “I accept that our factories pollute the environment as we use coal. But, we try to lessen the impact by using a precipitator machine.”
However, on being reminded that many factory owners despite having the machine seldom use it, he said, “I was conferred with a doctorate not only for my industrial management, but I think it is my SCR (Social Corporate Responsibility) work which made me earn a reputation.” Saluja, is also the President of Birhor Vikash Samitti (Birhor Development Committee). The Birhors are a primitive tribe, with a pan India population of 1200 but have the highest population in Jharkhand.
“In collaboration with other industrialists, we take care of about 135 children from this tribe. We keep them in a hostel in the township area. From where they go to school to study and learn other activities of life,” he informed.
On being asked about his relationship with banks, the brand ambassador of Mongia laughed and said, “We have got BBB plus grading, and it is from external body—by Crystal.”