His father wanted that he becomes a legal expert like his grandfather. But it wasn’t something he aspired to do in life. His mind was stuck in making it big in the city of dreams – Mumbai. He was not a business student neither had any family backing but he attracted wealth through his hardwork and built a larger-than-life brand.
Today, we are scaling the journey of a man who came from humble backgrounds but went on to become the 45th richest Indian according to Forbes list of 2012. He is the founding father of Pidilite Industries and his sole vision made way for famous brands like Fevicol, Fevikwik, M-Seal, Dr Fixit etc. Born and brought up in a small town of Mahuva in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, Balvant Parekh came to Mumbai to fulfill his father’s wish. He entered the Government Law College and after a month of living in an acquaintance’s office shifted with a bunch of friends.
It was a time when Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India movement had swept the nation. Balvant, too, was influenced by the wave and decided to leave his degree midway. With no interest in farming and no degree in hand, he took up social services for one year after which he returned to Mumbai. He completed his degree and even cleared the bar council exams. But the bundle of lies that came with the profession made him very uncomfortable and he quit the profession despite his family’s resistance. He was married by then and had additional financial burden. It was a tough situation for him as he had to make his own living and survive without any support.
After days of struggle he got a job in a dyeing and printing press. Here he was also required to tend to the personal needs of his boss which Balvant hated. So, he quit and took up job of a peon at a wood trader’s office. This too was not working out for him and he was looking for a better opportunity. In those days he live in a friend’s godown with his wife against a monthly rent of Rs 14. He died in 2013 but made it a point to take his children and grandchildren to show the godown. From here he had started developing contacts and began supplying list of import-export items to the relevant businessmen. After some time he began selling ghee from Mahuva in Mumbai.
However, these businesses did not last long and he required more money to run his family. He was father of a son now and his younger brother too had started living with him. Parekh founded Pidilite in 1954 as a small trader of specialty chemicals, then started manufacturing pigment emulsions used for textile printing, along with his brother Sushil Parekh who’s now vice-chairman.
In 1959, they spotted a market for synthetic glue. Fevicol since then has become synonymous with glue and Indian carpenters swear by it. It has a 70% market share in white glues and outsells similar products made by foreign and domestic companies. Their products also sell in the US, Brazil, Thailand, Egypt, Bangladesh and Dubai.
With its exceptionally funny and creative ads, the unexciting Fevicol became a product that surpassed the carpenters, who were its target customers, and became a household name synonymous with unbreakable bonding. Ogilvy and Mather created several ads for them like a rural fisherman catching fish instantly with the help of Fevikwick, girl with a mustache stuck to her face with Fevicol gets reborn with a mustache, unbreakable egg laid by a hen who was pecking from a Fevicol box and many more.
Balvant always believed that no milestone is far if you pursue your dreams passion and enthusiasm. He said that passion had to come from within. He said that one should have enough money to live comfortably and put their 100 percent in whatever they do. His company is now managed by his son Madhukar and Ajay Parekh.
Today, they have more than 200 products and over 2,000 employees and earned Rs 7,443 crore in 2020 out of which Rs 1,119 crore was the profit.
Balvant Parekh’s struggles, sheer determination and permanent striving for a better outcome has resulted in making of one of India’s favorite brands. A voracious reader, he always encouraged people to keep learning about new things.
His journey from a nobody to one of India’s biggest industrialists motivates us to become the best version of ourselves. Share the story so that more people are inspired.