The story of Borosil- how a family legacy became a multi-crore company
We all have a dream of turning our family business into something much bigger and approachable. But very often we hear stories of those who turned their family legacy into a fully-fleshed business. The story of the Kheruka family is yet another example of excellence with time. It’s a story of Borosil and how a family business became one of India’s favorite brands. Founded in 1962, Borosil has become iconic in India for its glassware products.
A low-cost manufacturing approach and a bit of ancestral creativity led Borosil to the path of fame. To buy cups, saucers, plates and even kitchen appliances, the only stop for Indian households is Borosil. This is their story.
The Fascinating Journey of Borosil
The story started generations before Shreevar Kheruka joined the venture as a Managing Director of Borosil Glass Works Ltd. His great grandfather in the late ’50s started as a jute goods broker in Calcutta. Soon his son B L Kheruka also joined the same business. The duo would go door to door selling jute products. Their hard work paid off and the business bloomed, they even started exporting their products. However, with the closure of the jute exchange their market collapsed and the business failed miserably.
Though the loss was huge the family didn’t stop venturing other ways of success. In a quest to start another business, they traveled through various parts of the world, including Germany and Japan. Finally, after a lot of research, they stumbled upon an opening either paper business or glass business. They applied for both the licenses and got approved of the glass one ultimately kicking off Window Glass Limited.
Window glass limited was founded in 1962 and started operating in a joint venture with Corning Glass Works USA to sell industrial and scientific glass. But working in an entirely new business wasn’t easy. They face a lot of trouble in building up an empire, even so, the company stayed at the loss for almost 12 years. Sometimes B L Kheruka would question the decision, however, his father had a strong belief that one day the company would do better. They focused on selling Borosilicate glass, a type of glass that does not crack under extreme temperatures and is perfect for laboratory purposes. This became their unique selling point. And thus the lifelong brand name was inspired- Borosil. In 1988, Kheruka ended their partnership with Corning and started working as an independent firm. By this time they were only selling glass products to laboratories and research centers.
Later the third generation, Pradeep Kheruka also joined the business. With his involvement, new ideas were proposed and business went up at a good pace. Soon, it was Shreevar Kheruka’s chance of entering the family heritage. But he took his time and went on studying at the University of Pennsylvania. He also started working summer jobs at several local firms. Later, he returned to India and entered Borosil. But taking up the responsibility of a business his family since generations are working on, wasn’t an easy job for him and he had his share of struggle.
In 2006 when he joined the business, the business was facing a bad time. Because now they had more competitors in the market than before and also the cost structure of the company burst. During this time, the Maharashtra government hiked electricity charges and that proved to be the biggest threat to the company’s functioning. It was almost impossible to produce glass tubes, the raw material for all his products. The cash flow of the company was interrupted and paying salaries proved to be a challenge for Shreevar Kheruka.
But due to the yearlong brand value of the company, Kheruka believed that building a loyal customer base could alter the situation. And so he diversified the consumer base and included new products that can now be consumed by the local public. Borosil now sells cups, saucers, plates, jars and even kitchen appliances like toasters and mixer-grinders and other laboratory appliances as well. He also consulted with several vendors for glass tubes and with the overseas supply of raw material, the work gradually started picking up speed. Kheruka listed two companies, Borosil Limited and Borosil Renewables Limited. While Borosil Limited did about Rs 600 crore revenues last year, Borosil Renewable brought in Rs 500 crore as revenue.
Diversifies Consumer Base of Borosil
Building a brand is one thing but keeping the legacy is another and Kheruka well understood these differences. Despite the company’s big name, Kheruka has a robust mechanism to assess customer complaints. He personally keeps tabs on the feedback to ensure whatever products they are supplying are well responsive or not. They have also set a target to close complaints within three days.
“It’s important to ever so often circle back to that one core reason why you started the business. Staying true to that will help you sail through the tough times,” says Shreevar Kheruka.
With Covid 19 pandemic, the brand like several others also faced loss but Kheruka remains optimistic about maintaining the family legacy of Borosil.