The COVID-19 lockdown has been the defining period of my professional life. It has made me realise why the spirit of entrepreneurship and grit are not just attributes that help you personally, but also those around you who depend on you. The biggest learning for me in the last 10 years that I’ve worked in my family business has been that all of your workforce is also your family and you must overcome every barrier to come through for them.
I joined my family business Shree Shakti Enterprises after completing my MBA from Amity University a decade ago. We have been bulk traders of steel utensils since 1956 and have also been supplying kitchenware to Walmart Best Price for the last nine years.
Over these years, my father has been my biggest mentor. He too has overcome several challenges, but nothing like the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on our business.
As a result of shutdown in March, our manufacturing plants in Sonipat, Haryana, were forced to close. With demand for our kitchenware plummeting, I became concerned about my workers.
I remembered I had seen a hand wash station that doctors use in hospitals and I thought we could tweak the model to make it work through a foot pedal instead of our hands.
Convincing my father wasn’t an easy task – he discouraged me from going to the factory due to the COVID-19 scare. But I still went to my factory and stayed there for a few days and built the first prototype which was set up near our residential colony. As people started giving good feedback, my father came on board. There has been no looking back since then!
I also sent a prototype to Walmart India. With the help of their feedback on technical feasibility and commercial viability, I was able to fine tune the product. Thanks to their suggestion, I have also built a sensor-based sanitizer dispenser. In fact, I have built an automatic foot sanitizer too.
For the hand wash station, I have crossed 1,100 orders and these have been set up in various government offices and several private sector companies in the automobile sector. This has led to up to Rs 1.5 crore in sales during the lockdown. I also have orders worth another Rs 2.5 crore.
I on-boarded the Walmart Vriddhi supplier development program and I feel this will help my business achieve even greater heights.
It will be helpful to learn the best business practices to scale the MSME ecosystem and spread our wings.