The Audacity of Odhavbhai

13 04 2008
Tucked in the inside pages of today’s Business Line is a small news item reproduced below:
     “Ajanta, the world famous clock maker, is planning to manufacture an electric car at its unit at Samkhiyali in Kutch district and market it a price lower than the Rs 1-lakh Nano. The group has already been manufacturing electric bikes and scooters under the ‘Oreva’ brand. The group would be producing almost 70 % of the parts in-house , which it says would help it roll out the car at a much cheaper price. The basic price of the car is expected to be as low as Rs 85,000.”
 
Odhavbhai R Patel, the man behind Ajanta clocks is a maverick businessman. His group has been a volume king in many diverse categories of products, the most well-known being clocks. After clocks, the group ventured into various brown goods like telephone handsets, calculators, electric iron, toasters etc  using  the ‘Orpat’ brand name.
Then it started a totally unrelated business by setting up one of the largest vitrified tile plant. The Oreva brand  of ceramic tiles is quite a success.
Mr. Patel then  extended  the Oreva brand name to yet another unrelated product category  – Compact fluorescent Lamps –  where it is giving a good fight to the biggies like Philips and Osram.
Now there will be Oreva brand of  electric two-wheelers and cars.   
 
The aspects that are common to all of Mr. Patel’s  businesse are :
 
– Operation headquarter remians in Kutch
– Irrespective of the category, Mr. Patel is always a price warrior . He lowers costs by using a mix of various strategies like economies of scale, sourcing from China and using subsidies given to units in Kutch
– Mr. Patel prefers to have common brand names Oreva and Orpat 
– all of Mr. Patel’s businesses are  closely held.
 
Tasting success in diverse low technology, low involvement  products like tiles and CFL bulbs is one thing, but manufacturing cars is quite another. If   Mr. Patel pulls the car venture off even in a limited way, it will be a huge achievement. 
– G. Mohan
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