From: As told to Debolina Sen
The Right Call
Posted On Thursday, August 18, 2011
Identifying potential and future need of consumers and society at large propels success, says A N Singh...
After completing my M Sc and a year’s stint as a PhD scholar, I started my career in tea as assistant manager. Dooars was without electricity, telephone and television then. I found the work culture much better back then. But things changed with the advent of the Left government. There were frequent strikes and gate meetings. Things improved with time.
My dedication towards my work was inspired by the support I received from my colleagues since I did not have a mentor. My hard work and passion for tea kept me going. In spite of a united work force and sincere efforts, there are times when things don’t go according to plan. I faced such a challenge in the beginning of the new millennium. The period between 2000 and 2006 was particularly bad when tea started selling below the cost of production.
In the face of adversity we needed to deploy new techniques to get back on track. We switched over to total quality production. That meant losing out on crops during the initial period but it paid off later. The quality segment of the market started responding to better price realisation.
Despite such trying times, achievements too followed. The turn-around of Castleton Tea Estate, which we purchased in 1985, is one such instance. In spite of 60,000 kg crops and producing quality tea, the garden did not look good. Now the crop count is one lakh and it is the best Darjeeling tea featuring in ‘Fortune Five Hundred Magazine’.
Also modernisation of almost 27 of our factories to be in line with the world’s best in terms of hygiene and eco-friendly systems with water harvesting mechanism and safe disposal of effluent water, have made them true food processing factories. We reduced carbon emission by installing wood-fed boilers and efficient heaters and dryers.
In order to achieve them the most important factor was to identify the potential and future need of the consumers and society at large. My principals in the UK coupled with the work ethic ‘business with human face’ has made me overcome all hurdles and work towards successful implementation of my plans.
Today, it feels good to have spent more than one and a half decade in tea – both in the plantation and Kolkata corporate office. At one point, we never thought we would last so long. The cyclic nature of the industry kept us hopeful. Though it feels good to see tea garden workers adept in using the latest technology, their well being still worries me. I wish basic living amenities are better managed for workers and employment opportunities are extended to them by more number of industries.
Singh is MD, Goodricke Group Ltd
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