Thursday, August 30, 2012

Looking ahead, moving forward


What started as a small rice mill in Jhapa — Panchakanya Rice Mill — in 1972, some four decades back, Panchakanya Group has come all the way to becoming one of the leading business groups in the country today.
"There certainly has been a lot of ups and downs," recalls managing director of the group Pradeep Kumar Shrestha.
From the era of 'Licence Raj', when he had to skip classes to get a licence, to the current open economy, when it is easy to get a licence but difficult to do 'ethical' business, Shrestha — the second generation in the business — has not only expanded Panchakanya's network but made it a household name.
Earlier, it used to be a seller's market but now it is a buyer's market, he says, adding that with the open economy post-1990, competition has increased and for the better. "Competition has helped bring in quality products and made them more affordable," said the managing director of the group that employs around 1,000 people directly and around 3,000 indirectly.
The group owns around 11 industries that offer a complete housing solution — from steel to plastic, furniture, plast, wires, nails and allied, apart from its own construction, and housing and land development company, and also operates Nepal Bitumen and Barrel Udyog — and runs trading firms, school, hospital, banks and hydropower businesses successfully.
However, it was with the group's second venture – Panchakanya Steel – that it entered into the manufacturing sector and started moving from the eastern part of the country — where they initially hailed from — to the centre — Kathmandu — and the steel factory in the western part of the country in Bhairahawa.
"It was difficult to move from one place to another in those days due to transportation hassles," he remembers, "But the identity crisis due to the regular movement has also made our father Prem Bahadur Shrestha — the first generation and current chairman — stronger and more determined."
From the first generation that helped establish the company, to the second that helped diversify it with aggressiveness, now the third generation is ready to carry the baton further, said Shrestha, adding that the third generation is well equipped with international exposure and ready to take on more responsibilities.
As a multi-billion rupee company today, Panchakanya Group, not only caters to the domestic market, but also exports pipes and fittings to India.
The group — like in each year — is planning to bring a new product in the market soon, says Shrestha. Similarly, it is working on limestone ore for its planned cement factory which might take a year to come into operation, and looking for iron ore in the country for its steel factory.
"Nepal has all the required resources to create employment back home," he says, "There is a huge scope for the ancillary industry for Indian and Chinese industries, unmatched biodiversity and tourism, which need to be exploited."
"We can make a difference if we are sincere," Shrestha concludes.


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