Magic of faith and conviction Maithan Group, Dhanbad

He drives his BMW-5 Series Sedan with a precision born out of his bent for perfection. Basant Agarwalla's ever-exacting attitude towards life, makes punctuality and discipline the basic hallmark for performance. An inspiring leader that he is, his staff stays motivated and ready to take on challenges. The first thing you notice about this businessman is his simplicity. He owns a majestic mansion that has charcoal roads interlinking the different portions. Halogens arched like pine trees light up the pathway. A lush green garden exuding verdant vibes and a colourful fountain at the centre, completes the picture of luxury living. This, however, doesn't intrude into his personality that remains grounded and original. "Success does not make you a superhuman being, but it should make you more human," avers the proud owner of Maithan Group of Companies.

All the achievements, that people associate him with today, are the spin-offs of decades of hard work. The group's founder and Basant's grandfather, Late Raghunath Agarwalla started with Maithan Ceramic Ltd to manufacture fireclay bricks in 1963. Today it is a top ferro-alloy conglomerate of the country. "It is very important to acknowledge the basic elements that drive our company or any other successful company for that matter, that includes maintaining fiscal prudence, being dexterous and valuing human capital. Besides this we invest liberally in research and development activities and in modernising our production lines for value maximisation of our products and services which invariably translate into enhanced customer satisfaction and shareholder value,"Agarwalla explains.

"Success does not make you a superhuman being, but it should make you more human"

It was in the late sixties that the group started diversifying into coal mining and coke production. However, the nationalisation of the former in 1972 and the shrinking opportunities in the later two decades hence, forced the group to move away from these businesses.

Meanwhile the refractory wing continued to prosper under Basant. In midnineties the company emerged as one of the top five refractory companies in the country. At this time came the most crucial engagement of the group- in ferro alloys, which proved to be its ultimate high point. Within a small period of less than 15 years the total capacity increased manifold in 2010. Taking a logical step ahead, the group ventured into iron and steel and commenced its DRI operations with steel production at its integrated steel plant. The group basks in a compounded annual growth rate of more than 30% over the last decade. "Apart from the dedication and commitment, what clicked for us was the faith and conviction for each other that we bring onto the table. Our father was an honest and generous man who tutored us about the importance of staying together and staying scrupulous.

"Apart from the dedication and commitment, what clicked for us was the faith and conviction for each other"

We worked in perfect bonhomie and camaraderie, respecting at all times, the progressive differences of opinion. This has helped us forge a workable, profitable equation which forms the backbone of our business," says Binod, his younger brother. The three brothers passed on this legacy to their children, who too have joined the family business. The group functions with 7000 employees, some of them more than 30 years in the company.

Basant Agarwalla has kept himself accessible to people to understand their problems and points of view. And this is not limited to the company alone. He runs a charitable eye hospital for the poor and destitute, where hundreds of patients get treated free of cost. He tells us that he is running the hospital for last fifteen years and for the first six years he bore the expenses from his own pocket. Today people from far-flung areas frequent it, availing of the facilities and the hospitality of this large-hearted patriarch.

Besides this, Basant's father had founded the famous BSK College of Maithan in 1967, which at that time was a major hub of education serving several districts. Today it has about 8000 students, who are availing of this affordable but standard education facility.

Basant has taken utmost care to ensure that students here do not lose out in this highly competitive world, by giving them the cutting edge curricula. A calm disposition sets in as he explains the reason behind his penchant for charity. "Doing something for society gives me immense satisfaction. In fact we should all share the benefits of our commercial success in order to benefit others. That God has been kind to us implies that we too need to be kind to others. I always tell my sons the importance of community development alongwith the business so that they don't shy away from the path of humanity, something that their grandfather completely believed in." At this point he reminisces about his early days.

"Goodwill is important and so is price, quality and timely delivery or execution of any plan"

He lost his father when he was 26. Due to family constraints, he left his LLB midway to be in Dhanbad to look after his four sisters and two younger brothers and in turn his sacrifice earned him the respect of his brothers Jagdish and Binod. Till date they honour his advice at every step.

Agarwalla insists that he was destined to become a businessman, considering his family background.

This is the reason why his life runs somewhat on predetermined lines, with him devoting most his time to his work, where he dons different hats as per requirement. But then this has not robbed him of the willingness to enjoy the little pleasures of life, like gardening, driving and quietly holidaying. He catches up with movies on weekends and is fond of actors of his generation, like Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar. "Today's movies lack substance, there is no message," he rues. And of course for him there is nothing like home-cooked food.

"I have successfully delegated duties, so that by six in the evening the office is vacated," he shares. The astute businessman firmly believes that nothing would succeed without ethics. He has been working incessantly ever since he took over the reigns of the company more than four decades back, staunchly guarding against complacency while scaling newer heights.

But more importantly he has always maintained a fine balance, between his workers, his family and his ethics, his life a clear and smooth blend of these three elements. "Goodwill is important and so is price, quality and timely delivery or execution of any plan. Keep your promises," he advises all those in business anywhere.

"In the end if the family is happy, so is society and I myself too, no project of mine can be a failure. Besides serving the poor is the best kind of service one can do in life and that is also a kind of worship," he signs off.