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The amazing Moser Baer story
August 22, 2006
All of us, at some point in our life, have read the story of King Bruce and the spider -- the disappointed king who took heart from the spider, which fell many times to finally complete the Web.
Deepak Puri, chairman and managing director of Moser Baer, is one such Bruce of the modern times.
He never complained or looked for excuses; he tried to find solutions. If he had problems at the Indian ports, he set up his own supply chain. If he had problems with power shortage, he did not crib. He just went on to set up a captive unit.
He faced a series of setbacks in the 40 years of his business life, but he never quit.
A masters in mechanical engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, UK, Deepak started his business career from Kolkata.
His first factory -- Metal Industries Pvt. Ltd -- manufactured aluminum wires and pipes and AC conductors. But, labour militancy -- this was when the trade unions in Bengal ruled the roost -- forced him to shut down his factory.
This did not deter him. He started a second business -- this one was about manufacturing time recording devices for the banking industry. But, before Deepak could even settle down, the militant labour union members stormed into his unit and poured acid on some of his machines. Both his attempts to do business had come to a naught.
His wife and wholetime director and promoter of Moser Baer, Nita Puri recalls the tough times. She says, "In spite of all this, he fought all the way. He did not buckle. He was gheraoed at his plant but it didn't bother him. Only when they actually gheraoed our home that we decided to move out."
Deepak was down but not out and he was ready for the third attempt. "It was pure chance. I knew nothing about floppies, those days" confides the chairman and managing director of Moser Baer, adding, "Actually, I went to Mumbai to a friend's office. Those were the days of power shortage in Mumbai and people used to practice self-regulated power shedding. They switched off their electrical power voluntarily in their offices and houses."
"When I entered his office, he was fanning himself with a newspaper. So, I picked up the first object I came across to fan myself with -- an 8-inch square black object. But before I could begin fanning myself with it, my friend grabbed it back! It was a floppy disc. Believe me, I knew nothing about it or its data storage capacity."
Deepak had just spotted a business opportunity.
Wasting no time, he flew to California to talk to Xidex, then the largest manufacturer of data storage media in the world. India was not a known country at least on the technology front, those days. But the enthusiasm and conviction that Deepak brought to the table impressed Xidex to partner with him.
Thus Moser Baer came into being in 1983.
The company, which started with 8-inch and 5.5-inch disks today, ranks among the top three optical and magnetic storage (which includes CDs, DVDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs and Lightscribe CD-Rs in the world.) Moser Baer stands for technology that matches the best in the world.
In R&D, it has set many industry benchmarks. It is the lowest cost optical media manufacturer in the world and has a human resource pool that is proud of every disk that leaves its facilities, with the 'Made in India' stamp, flashing proudly on it.
What makes him tick?
So, what keeps them at the head of the line and prevents them from stagnating? Listen to what Raghavendra Rao, an analyst from Frost & Sullivan, a leading business consulting firm that offers market research and analysis, says: "They keep on attempting to improve themselves. When their products start maturing or declining, they are ready with the next one. When the floppies went out, they moved onto CDs, and when CDs were in the mature phase, they moved onto DVDs, which are now in the growth phase. When the DVDs go into the nest phase of maturity, they will be ready with the next product."
And Deepak Puri knows that the fun has only just begun. To this day, Deepak keeps on trying -- this time to make Moser Baer an all-encompassing technology company, which will last 100 years from today.
His grit and business sense should make this a easy goal to achieve! Truly, he's King Bruce for the modern age.