8 things I learned from my employers
Sharing with you an inspirational story. Failure can drive you to bad days, but the same failure, if analyzed can provide you with rules for success in life. This is a motivational & inspirational story of brush up with simple human beings with extraordinary achievements, Which actually changed my life forever.
This was 1995, I was a young beaming engineer. Full of energy and looking for a job in Nagpur. I went for an interview at Trimurti Nagar office of a company. In the interview One gentlemen gave me a dial Vernier & a screw gauge and asked me to measure something. The second one asked me what is the salary I want. A very simple interview that was. The very next day I joined a 2000 sq feet shed at MIDC. The company was Excel Controlinkage Pvt Limited, a push Pull mechanical cable company in technical association with Tuthill corporation of UK making cable craft cables. We made cables for Earth moving & marine application. Mechanical push pull Control cables manufacturers were a few in India, making us a privileged of the few who could rise up to the challenge of this entrepreneurship.
There had the privilege to meet &work with the two most influential persons of my life Ashok Mrig & Atul Gupta. Both unique for their versatility and talent. Ashok bhaiyya has the ability to put mathematics at work using a simple pen and paper. Never met a better engineer than him. He even Coined the punch line “Engineered Advantage” for the group. He designed cables, A dimension, B dimension with Such ease that I used to feel awe of his ability to visualize the cables on paper. 9228260, 9367001, TV 2136, PB 2680 and Modulator cables, cables for Lever & pedal applications in Earth moving machinary, were some examples of cables we dealt.
Atul bhaiyya handled finances and had Cars in his DNA as a default factory setting. He is flamboyant & loved cars. Each New car coming to town would found first shelter in his garage. Atul bhaiyya had this wonderful habit of saying everything truthfully without losing cool that it sometimes hurt. His money & people management never went out of fashion for the organization. Both these gentlemen are caring family driven entrepreneurs which reflected in their day to day life and the businesses they ran.
As a group, we had Cement Capsules manufacturing units, Belt fasteners unit, punched components manufacturing facility, a work shop and a great network of supplies to coalfields across India Which was handled by Vipul Gupta, the elder brother of Atul Bhaiyya.
In the factory we had a single Swaging machine and one working table of 5-meter length, and a plant set up for automobile cable manufacturing. Later was expanded to an all-in house manufacturing facility with thread grinder for our inches, “UNF & mm threads, store, Automat, lathe on which we made end rods, conduit caps, end fittings, and other components for LD, MD & HD conduit. We sourced flared tubes from Bundy India and bellows from Madhusudan Pacheriwala, and coating from outside. We had one or two companies as our competition in India then, but we knew that we had imported material with us, even the silicon grease which we used guaranteed our cables would give us over lakh of operation, making them the best suitable option in Dirt filled environment of earth moving machinery.
We had seen the start of becoming an OE supplier to various companies and future looked promising with cables and upcoming Levers & pedals assembly. We had orders from BEML Kolar, Hindustan Motors Thiruvellur plant, TIL cranes, Escorts, even Cables for Washing machines etc. Our materials were shipped all across India. We had developed a unique packing cartons to sustain the travel torture on the cable. Which was later enhanced to a single pc pack with marine applications.
From a strength of 4 with we went up to 20 people,2 sheds and a turnover growth of over 500%. The highlight would be the growth we could achieve with the vision of the directors, we shifted to our new office SO2/5 Amarjyoti palace, our OE status with Earth Movers, our export order for marine cables and essentially an organization which works like a family. My core working belief took shape here. We developed everything in-house for production then, ensuring quality and stress free working. We were several small units within one umbrella. That’s the strength we enjoyed, which is still my way of working after 22 years. Excel allowed me to grow beyond my capacity.
While working there, I made 2 mistakes, which I realized later in life. First didn’t check upon and utilize the wastage resulting in loss of the imported raw material. Secondly, I got over confidant with the trust I enjoyed from my directors which resulted in technical errors and rejection of components and cables. Meant dual working and losses, against an over confidant false commitment, which actually turned out to be a lie as it didn’t deliver what it promised.
We parted our ways then. Unfortunately, it took me two decades to come out of the shock and see clearly what happened. First decade I spent desperately wanting to be back in the excel shed, and second decade rebuilding what I learned from Excel. A very important time of my life.
Both of these directors have left a very big impression on me as persons. Whenever I get stuck in any situation I think of Ashok Bhaiyya. What he would do, I take out a piece of paper, map the work leaving the empty boxes for the things I don’t know and then take guidance to fill them.
Whenever, I run short of Money Ideas, face difficult people in work life, I remember how Atul Bhaiyya would deal with this, and a solution would appear. Whenever I run short of time for my family I would remember how these people managed and gave the best piece of their time to their Family and kids. These 2 people never ever made me feel as an employee, they gave me everything of what they had almost unconditionally. Even when I was going down during my final days at Excel they did give me chances to recover, and do better. Above all they trusted me.Somehow the time was not right and I could not pick up then.
Here are my 8 takeaways from Both of them.
- 1) You were paid for the job, This sentence rings bell in my mind still after 23 years. Atul Bhaiyya said this to me while we were parting. Ironically, age and experience teaches you the meaning of this sentence. And there lies an honest truth about interdependence between an employee & employer in it.
“An Honest Voice can break concrete walls of ego”
- 2) Ashok Bhaiyya rode a Maruti 800 in those days, and still reminds me of simple ways and means with which a millionaire could live.
“You don’t Need display of wealth to show who you are, your work speaks”
- 3) The most important thing which I still follow from Excel days is a white sheet of paper while explaining the work to anyone. Ashok bhaiyya used this technique while demonstrating any task. Amazingly he would explain entire cable, A dimension, B dimension, and things related to it on paper and would handover it to me for completion. Everything about that work usually used to be there in that page.
Sounds very old school, but actually is very useful in 2017 when I use the same method in my current job.
“Visualizing & Detailing is always a key to the successful task completion”
- 4) Ashok Bhaiyya was an engineer from Delhi. And he would amaze me with his calculations. He always knew what he got in his hands. I have never had a boss who could guide me work so clearly that there was no chance of error left. First time I made a wrong cable and when I reported it to him, he just said, just cut it off and make a fresh but smaller cable.
“Communication is the key, keeping it simple makes it better”
- 5) Atul Bhaiyya & Ashok Bhaiyya always worked as a team. They worked together and we could see the mutual respect within their working. They might have also had their share of moments, but it never reflected.
- 6) Ashok bhaiyya’s Salary was slightly higher than me then and he was well invested in PF, and other things, My Salary was good for those days, but I could never save, Instead I struggled with money. He & Atul Bhaiyya took lot of efforts to keep me in line with money and even guided me from time to time but, Money was one lesson I learned the hardest way, because I never planned & never listened to any sound advice.
“Planning & discipline with money can pave the road of future for you”
- 7) Have you ever had a higher salaried employee working under you? I had. Vinayan was an automat operator, whose salary was double due to his unique skills with automats. He brought in a different work culture where salary meant nothing and skill & output topped the chart. It was an amazing experience to give work to someone with higher salary working under you.
“Leaders are responsible for developing team”
- 8) Never over commit, never lie. In my last 6 months at Excel, I thought I would manage everything like I said, like I did in past. Believed that whatever I made was actually good. Took liberties with the tolerances. Result: Rejection & loss.
However, being able to deal with deadlines and not lying has been my biggest strength in the current job, actually saves every one of the pain & time loss involved in rejection of produced material.
What I enjoy today in life actually started there. The 2 thing I regret about it is, had to learn more from failure that what good I learned at excel, second biggest loss was losing their mentorship. Today Atul Bhaiyya & Ashok Bhaiyya are the leading Businessman from Nagpur with footprints over several continents. Their success story has touched my life and made it better.
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