Nandkumar Hendre never thought of business or entrepreneurship as a career option when growing up in a two-room house in a housing board colony at Ghatkopar, in central Mumbai. The eldest of four, Hendre’s father, who passed away three months ago, was a linotype operator who over time worked at various media houses, including The Times of India, and his mother was a schoolteacher. Hendre dreamt only about cricket and his technique off the front foot. But his parents ensured he went to a good English-medium school where his friends were largely from wealthy Gujarati families.
“That was my first breakthrough in my life. Apart from cricket, my Gujarati school friends slowly inculcated the spirit of entrepreneurship in me. During college, when I landed in my first job in The Times of India as technical apprentice with a salary of Rs 464 per month in 1981, I told myself—this is not my pitch, I have to do something on my own,” reminiscences Hendre.
Photograph: Hemant Mishra/Mint
He did something of his own—and now owns one of India’s top three printing houses—Print House India Pvt. Ltd.
The idea came when he was still at The Times of India. “In 1988, somebody offered a one-time printing job with a condition that it should be done fast. I successfully delivered the assignment in time. The remuneration was four times my salary. For the first time, I was tempted by money. This little greed convinced me to start on my own,” says Hendre.
He borrowed Rs 15,000 as seed capital from a local cooperative credit society to start a printing house. In 1988, the turnover was Rs 5 lakh. “I was doing three things then. I was employed to manage printing jobs, doing an evening diploma in printing technology in Bhavan’s College and running my own business,” says Hendre.
By this time, he was dreaming big, about owing a printing machine like the one where he worked and that prints newspapers.
“I organized money from various sources to buy the necessary machine in 1991. I never looked back.”
For the year that ended March 2010, Hendre’s turnover was Rs 150 crore. The latent cricket all-rounder in him did not allow Hendre to stop with printing. He has diversified into hotels (his Aura Grand is coming up in Andheri, Mumbai) and restaurants (under the brand name Saffron Spice). He has now also entered the packaging business.
“At heart, I am the same person from the lower middle class. I am printing newspapers and magazines that are widely read by the common man. Now I want, in five years, to offer an affordable packaging for all kind of products. Be it food, drinks, or any material, the package should be of international class and affordable,” says Hendre.
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