The early demise of 41-year-old Anant Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Electricals (BEL), will be a huge loss to the industry and the company as he spearheaded many of first projects in technology and manufacturing processes and countered the aggression of the foreign electrical manufacturers in the domestic market. The market value of BEL, which doubled to Rs 6,300 crore in the last one year, stands as the proof of his initiatives.
Remembering Anant Bajaj: Man with futuristic ideas, ability to take tough decisions
Anant joined BEL after his engineering in 1996. In a very recent interview to Business Today, he said that he started from rock bottom in the company as a salesman of fans. In 1999, he helped his father Shekhar Bajaj to change BEL from a marketing and sales company to a manufacturing company by building Ranjangaon facility in Maharashtra and ramping up Chakan facility. His engineering background helped him accomplish the projects.
“On August 15, 1997, the company launched its website as one of the earliest in the country. In 2001, we launched an e-commerce platform,” Bajaj said in the interview. In 2001, the company’s turnover was Rs 350 crore. But the plant construction cost had weighed down on the company’s balance sheet. But Anant said his father Shekhar was younger at that time and had the ability to take pressure and it kept the company from going into bankruptcy.
In 2002-03, he worked in Bajaj Auto under Rajiv Bajaj. In his words, it was a crisis period for the auto business. He has seen the crisis in both electrical and auto businesses. Post the crisis in electricals business, he created business units to bring accountability inside the company and among dealers. During the 2003-09 period, the company had seen exponential growth. In 2006, he became executive director and in the next year, BEL had become a Rs 1000 crore company.
Anant implemented Oracle ERP system in the company in 2009 for accelerating business growth. He was trying to implement the Theory of Constraints (ToC) method in the company to overcome the challenges since 2009 but failed because of the lacklustre attitude of the senior staffers. In 2012, when he became joint MD, he decided to play the ball hard and asked the seniors either to implement or quit.
ToC changed the mindset of the company. With its implementation, the top line got hit. But it eventually improved the margins.
Anant initiated digital transformation journey of BEL in 2014. He had turned around the loss-making EPC business in 2015. After 2012, the company centralised the supply chain and business unit structure. Bandra-Worli Sealink, Wankhede Stadium, Vidyasagar Setu in Kolkata were some of the iconic projects of Bajaj, executed under Anant.
BEL’s revenue has grown to Rs 4,700 crore in the last financial year and it posted a profit of Rs 84 crore.
His father Shekhar Bajaj earlier told Business Today that Anant has been aggressively involved in the transformation of the company. “He looks to achieve faster growth. He has futuristic ideas.”
“He has taken a lot of initiatives in the last four years and they are fructifying into results. He took tough decisions like stopping wholesale and started distribution. We were prepared to take the negative growth because of the tough decisions,” the father said.
He was promoted as Managing Director about two and a half months ago, on June 1. He was primarily responsible for setting up the integrated R&D centre that focuses on cutting-edge technologies to create next-generation appliances.