Melwin Joy
AUTHOR

Melwin Joy

All stories by: Melwin Joy
Sharad Anand on the art of making a business empire

Mr. Sharad Anand is the newest member on the board of the most promising food manufacturing startup Delta Food Industries FZC. Mr. Anand joined Delta Food Industries (DFI) in the last quarter of 2015, as a partner, with his good friend Mr. Safdar Khatri, the owner of Khatri Tobacco. Mr. Sharad was unanimously voted CEO by the Board of Directors with the understanding that he will be a working Chief Executive. His position had nothing to do with the size of his investment in the company (he is the largest investor in Delta Food). The Board wholly recognized his management capabilities, which were put to the test when he took over the reins.

When Mr. Sharad got on board, he started to implement changes in the organizational structure. A working system was established to consolidate the departments. He made each Director responsible for a department and he personally got involved in its day to day operations. Mr. Sharad delved into the root cause of the prevailing issues and proceeded to hold the seemingly endless meetings and conferences in the days following his appointment. Together with Mr. Ali Parpinchi, the Managing Director, Mr. Shiraz Osman who serves as the Chairman of the Board and partners Mr. Rafi Jaffari, Mr. AmmrBilaspurwala, and his brother Mr. Hozefa Bilaspurwala, problem areas were identified and smart solutions were implemented.

Meticulous artisan

Mr. Sharad Anand’s passion for the creative arts serves him well at Delta Food. It took a lot of creativity and will power to change the existing system within the company. He started with the Finance and Procurement Department. He realized that DFI was growing too fast and people could not handle the added demands on the production process and inventory management. Mr. Sharad meticulously probed and a total revamp of the system was executed.

“I’m the guy who is on the ground, I’m not doing a white collar job and I’m totally involved in the whole engineering process, streamlining the production processes. Looking at areas where we can enhance production and improve quality”,  Mr. Sharadsaid.

Born with a silver spoon

Mr. SharadAnand was born to a rich family in a small town of Etawah, India. The rustic village was so small there were no proper schools and no full-fledged health care facilities. The Anands have old money to their name and Mr. Sharad and his only brother were fortunate to inherit the family business.

When his grandfather fell ill, his father struggled to keep the family together. His father did not finish school but was able to start his own can-making factory. Mr. Sharad finished his primary schooling in a Hindi-medium school in his village. His basic tuition was primarily in Hindi. This became a drawback when he started higher education in a boarding school. He had finished primary schooling at the top of his class, but he was demoted to a lower class when he could not pass his English tests. When his class teacher learned that he could not speak English, she translated the test papers to Hindi. Young Sharad Anand finished the tests with a 100% score. Mr. Sharad struggled to learn everything in school and his persistence paid off. He topped his class in the school leaving exams and finished in the Top 10 in the state. He earned the highest score in English.

Destined for the arts

Mr. Sharad’s father wanted the best for his son. He wanted him to become an engineer. Mr. Sharad enrolled in one of the finest engineering schools in India, but after three months, the young Sharad decided to tell his father that he never really wanted to become an engineer. Against his father’s wishes, he dropped out of engineering school. His father told him he would lose his pocket money if he quits, but he was past caring.

Because he wanted to follow his dreams to do art and explore the creative world of advertising, Mr. Sharad left the comforts of his home to find a part-time job to support himself. The next year, he enrolled in the College of Arts taking up Applied Arts. He graduating at the top of his class, winning the gold medal. The fresh graduate soon found out that having a degree was not enough to land a job. He couldn’t find high-paying work because he didn’t have the experience. He had to take odd jobs at different production houses and advertising agencies to gain significant experience.

Having the innate talent and indomitable spirit, Mr. Sharad started to make a name for himself and was doing pretty well in his chosen field when his father sent for him. His father was getting old and he needed his son to take over the family business and save the jobs of more than 500 employees at the can factory. Mr. Sharad had no choice but to heed the call of family duties.

Fusion of the arts and technology

When Mr. Sharad took over from his father in 2002, he decided to change the idea of the business. Equipped with a vast experience in the field of arts, he used his skills to make a revolutionary can design complete with a new seaming process. He invested in a can line that has never been tried before. He was aware he was taking a huge risk. After two years of trial and error and losing millions of dollars, Mr. Sharad was completely devastated. Despite the heavy losses, Mr. Sharad

Despite the heavy losses, Mr. Sharad persisted. With dogged determination, he was able to pull through and in December 2005, the can factory started producing the finest cans which to this day have not been duplicated.

In 2008, Mr. Sharad’s passion for creating encouraged him to invest in another novel design. He wanted to do the 2-piece can designed for beverages. The aluminium can design was worth $30 million. The new line was set to start, having all the bank guarantees and approval but the recession hit the business. His partners were unable to meet their commitments on time. Faced with another hurdle, Mr. Sharad found himself at a crossroad. He was 33 years old and just suffered a heart attack while on a business trip in Taiwan.

His brush with death made him reflect on his life’s choices and decisions. He was living the good life, but was unable to enjoy it fully because he was fully engrossed in the business of making money. The heart attack was the turning point in his life. While he could not turn his back on his responsibilities as a business owner, Mr. Sharad decided to slow down and take things easy. He decided to live for himself and enjoy the finer things in life. He pursued diving to challenge his fear of the open waters and played golf seven days a week. In December 2014, his comfortable life was threatened by a serious injury. He broke a rib after a game of golf and the fracture was so bad, it hampered his mobility. He sought western treatments
and traditional physiotherapy treatments in Singapore, Thailand and China. The severe trauma limited him to less strenuous activities.

While he was recuperating, Mr. Sharad decided to open another can factory in Dubai. The decision was made out of boredom more than anything else. In tandem with his friend Safdar Khatri, the dynamic duo landed in Dubai, bringing with them India’s solid capital and innovative technology.

Meeting of the minds

The choice of Dubai as the location for the new can factory  was an ingenious one reflective of Mr. Sharad’s analytical mind. He saw Dubai’s potential as a growing market and an investor’s haven offering attractive business incentives to promising startups. The bustling emirate is a melting pot of all races. Besides, Dubai feels like home. The Indian population in the UAE comprises about 3 million (approximately 45-47% of the total UAE population) migrants and expatriates. It is very easy to find his favorite Chana Masala or Daal in vegetarian restaurants dotting the busy streets of the emirate.

The hunt for prospective customers did not take long. Mr. Sharad found Delta Food Industries in Sharjah Airport Free Zone. Meeting with DFI’s Chairman Shiraz Osman and Managing Director Ali Parpinchi was providential. Delta Food was open for a partnership and Mr. Sharad saw the huge potential of the company. Mr. Sharad Anand and Mr. Safdar Khatri struck the deal with Delta’s owners.

“I believe in the product basket of Delta, I could see the prospects this company has in the future. I have faith in my capabilities to overcome all the shortfalls this company has. Whatever I have learned in my life, my advertising and creative background, I think I can bring all that to the brand building of Delta.”

Perfect combination

For Mr. Sharad, the partnership was the best part. He joined the company as an outsider. The directors have been working together from way back and their dynamics posed a challenge he could not refuse. Working with Mr. Ali Parpinchi who is a veritable product genius has been very pleasant for the jovial CEO. Mr. Ali’s knowledge in food technology and Mr. Sharad’s technical expertise was a perfect recipe for success. Delta Food is undertaking an ambitious plan for vertical and horizontal integration. New products such as cheese and mayonnaise will be launched in the next six months. Mr. Ali has developed new recipes for barbecue sauce and chili garlic sauce. Mr. Sharad vows to put these products out on the market. “Mr. Sharad is a good CEO. By restructuring the company organization setup, he was able to show us the strengths and weaknesses of the company. His expertise in the field is bringing in new vision for the company, with focus on international market. His strong financial knowledge is steering the company to be cost-effective and with improved productivity.” Mr. Ali said.

Mr. Sharad enjoys his great working  relationship with Mr. Shiraz Osman in managing the HR and the  Logistics Department. Having similar experience in manpower management and logistics operation, they look at the issues from complementary perspectives. Mr. Sharad and Mr. Osman are likewise on the same wavelength when it comes to marketing and advertising.

Working with Delta Food’s Finance Director, Mr. Hozefa Ibrahim Bilaspurwala, is a cordial affair. The serious demeanor of Mr. Hozefa is the exact opposite of Mr. Sharad’s personality. Like yin and yang, they complement each other. As with any business enterprise, financial matter is a serious subject and Mr. Hozefa does not mince words when it comes to material costs and procurement policies.

“Sharad is a serious taskmaster and takes his goals seriously. In a short period of time he has created mutual respect through dedication, perseverance and hard work. His clarity of thought and vision is helping Delta to be a strong and agile company. A positive influencer.” Mr. Hozefa stated.

Mr. Sharad encouraged the other partners Mr. Rafi Jaffari and Mr. Ammr Bilaspurwala to participate actively in running Delta Food. Mr. Raffi’s intrinsic skills in marketing can help DFI crack the tough global market. “Sharad has been instrumental in increasing the company’s competitiveness by streamlining operations and controlling costs. His vision for the company has motivated all departments to double their efforts.”Mr. Rafi Jaffari spoke of Mr. Sharad.

With all the directors in attendance at important meetings, Mr. Sharad can easily dispel the tension by just being his jovial self. But when it is time to tackle the issues on the agenda, Mr. Sharad is the epitome of authority.

The man and the CEO

Sharad Anand believes there is a time for everything. When he is not dead serious at work, he is always kidding around. He takes most things lightly. People find him intimidating at first, but once you get to know him your first impression can turn 180 degrees! Mr. Sharad is a no-nonsense person. He believes one should love his work. If you are working for a company and not giving your 100%, he considers that cheating.

He is the kind of boss who would be very happy for a worker to admit that he doesn’t know and be willing to learn. He hates fake people. He abhors a person who claims he knows everything but does not deliver. He considers his workers as family members and the only way for people to learn is to hear his angry voice. He is not shy to learn from his people. When he wants information or the like, he makes polite requests and rarely makes demands. “I am very strict but authoritarian. I help people with their personal problems. If company cannot help them, I would help them personally. If you are creating problems for the company then I am the first person to see you go and I have done it many times.”

“I am very strict but authoritarian. I help people with their personal problems. If company cannot help them, I would help them personally. If you are creating problems for the company then I am the first person to see you go and I have done it many times.”

All the departments have improved considerably since Mr. Sharad got involved. The HR Department has taken a more humane stance in dealing with its manpower. The policies emained strict but considerations are given to according to the situation. One worker was fired for violating company  policies. He requested for anotherchance, as his father was very ill and needed the money for treatments. HR did not cancel his visa. The company allowed him to visit his father for a few days and barely three days after returning, his father expired. Mr. Sharad intervened for the worker when HR invoked the policies. The worker was allowed to go back for his father’s burial.

“I believe it is more important to be human than to be just an administrator. We try to understand the worker’s situation and assist him in whatever is best for him and the company. We help them with their personal needs or medical problems even beyond the company’s responsibility.”

Mr. Sharad believes in sharing his good fortune with his people. He lives by his conviction that if his company is making money, the people will also make money. But if the company does not make money, the people should not make money (at the expense of the company). “This is what I tell my workers, work hard, let us all make money and share the money. I believe in profit sharing. I believe in giving bonuses. My workers in India receive bonuses every year. I give them a raise even before they ask for it.”

Soon, the HR Department will be launching different training programs for the workers. The idea is to give the people a better perspective of their work. A beautiful training facility will be built for this purpose. The workers need to understand the nuances of their job to enable them to appreciate their role in the company and help them connect with the actual production process. The Logistics Department is another office that has benefitted immensely from the CEO’s analytical mind. It used  to be the most laidback department in Delta Food. The changes saved the company more money and streamlined the export process by cutting back excessive charges and waiting period.

The CEO’s vision

Presently, Delta Food is a private label company but Mr. Sharad knows he can do a lot more for the company. His mission is to set up a new packaging line, to do the new SKUs like the 70g can for tomato paste. The new can factory will supply Delta Food its canning requirements to give its products the competitive edge in the global market. Quality of the packaging
material would be a paramount consideration. Mr. Sharad contends that he is not looking for huge profits by cutting corners in the can factory; rather he wants to give the market better products at a better price. Delta Food may not be ready to build its own brand at the moment, but Mr. Sharad is looking at launching the marketing campaign next year.

“I believe in brand building, but I know it requires a lot of money and this is not the right time to do that. Maybe next year… I know all about advertising to promote a Delta brand, whether it is to sponsor an event, to go for TV commercial, live promotions, anything and everything about brand building requires a lot of money.” Mr. Sharad added.

Environmental Accountability

Sharad Anand is a staunch advocate for a balanced ecosystem. By addressing environmental issues in all his factories, he maintains that it is his responsibility to reduce his carbon footprints. As much as possible, the use of polyethene packaging is discouraged except for a few customers where the packaging is required. Water treatment and recycling is now being done at Delta Food which reduced the plant’s water consumption and wastage. In a water-starved region like the UAE, water conservation is very much encouraged.

Greatest Sacrifice

Mr. Sharad considers his absence from home as his greatest sacrifice. He married Shweta in 2000 and has two children; 14-year old daughter Smahi and 10-year old son Shradul. A normal day at home would be playing golf with the children in their own putting green or watch cartoons on TV. Once a week, father and son play a round of golf, a precious time for Mr. Sharad, who foresees a promising sports career for his only son. Shradul is a golf prodigy and is determined to take up the sport at the professional level. Mr. Sharad admits to missing his family now that he is staying in Dubai longer. The family
travels abroad for vacation when Mr. Sharad can pry himself away from work.

Melwin Joy
AUTHOR

Melwin Joy

All stories by: Melwin Joy