Flying Colours
Forbes India|December 27, 2019 (Richlist)
With a slow and steady approach, the Dhingras have made Berger Paints India’s second-largest paint company
Manu Balachandran

Sitting in his opulent home in Lutyens’ Delhi’s Tees January Marg, which borders the Mahatma Gandhi Smriti, Kuldip Singh Dhingra appears nonchalant despite having leapfrogged 13 places on the 2019 Forbes India Rich List. Along with brother Gurbachan Singh, the 72-year-old patriarch of the Dhingra family is worth a staggering $5.5 billion (₹39,000 crores)—almost equivalent to Bermuda’s GDP. They are No. 21 on the list and a bulk of their wealth comes from their controlling stake in India’s second-largest paint company, Berger Paints.

“I don’t care about all this. This is all paper wealth,” says Kuldip, who’s dressed in a casual half-sleeve shirt and sipping coffee on a pleasant October morning. “We have seen so many people who were there [on the list] and they've disappeared. I don't like to be high profile and much in the public eye. All I want to do is focus on my work.”

This clarity of thought has brought about a change in the gardening enthusiast’s lifestyle as well. “I used to travel a lot,” says Kuldip. “Now I don’t like traveling or socializing. I try and do about 700 meters of swimming every day.” An early riser, he works six days a week and has maintained this work ethic from the time he took over Berger Paints in 1991 from beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya. The brothers are not involved in the day-to-day operations though. “As chairman, I am very active. We work as a team with management. They are busy with the day-to-day operations while we chip in when there are some missing gaps or acquisitions, joint ventures, and planning for which they don’t have time,” says Kuldip.

“What we have done has worked for us all these years. Why would I want to change that now? I have always looked at logic and a sustainable model of doing business,” he adds. An emphasis on the last aspect has ensured the Kolkata-headquartered company’s annual revenues jumped from ₹90 crore in 1991 to ₹5,515 crore in 2019. Profits, too, have shot up from ₹1 crore to ₹439.03 crore in the same period. Market cap stands at over ₹46,000 crore.

“I believe if you are getting better year on year, why chase risks? This [growth] has taken 29 years. The growth has been incremental, but I am happy with the pace. This is my style. We are not competing against anybody, but against ourselves,” Kuldip tells Forbes India.

The rise to the top, however, hasn’t been a smooth ride. The brothers lost their father at a young age, forcing them to leave their Delhi residence and move to Amritsar, where they started afresh.

SHOPKEEPER TO BILLIONAIRES

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FORBES INDIAView All

Home-Cooked Meal Is Now Greatly Valued

The pandemic has also brought with it an improved focus on hygiene, use of technology in dining, rise of cloud kitchens and resurgence in popularity of Indian ingredients

8 mins read
Forbes India
May 21, 2021

Paytm 3.0 - Reaching Near Breakeven In Two Years

As of 2020, Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s super app for financial services had run up losses in thousands of crores. Now, as digital payments gets yet another boost courtesy Covid-19, he’s hopeful of reaching near breakeven in two years

10+ mins read
Forbes India
June 4, 2021

THE PANDEMIC HAS CAUSED WOMEN GREATER LABOUR PAIN

Covid-19 has shown that women are more likely to face the brunt of job losses than men, and find fewer opportunities when they want to resume. That apart, several have to deal with increased hours of unpaid work at home and even domestic abuse

8 mins read
Forbes India
May 21, 2021

LEADERSHIP WILL BE ABOUT SEEING THE BIGGER PICTURE

Leaders must not only guard their teams first during a crisis, but also deal with stakeholders with respect and dignity. And apart from pursuing business goals, they should remain committed to our planet and the environment

7 mins read
Forbes India
May 21, 2021

PHILANTHROPY SHOULD BE HUMBLE, BUT NOT MODEST

Apart from building a flexible and resilient framework for the future, philanthropists, civil society and the government must work in tandem so that every rupee is absorbed on the ground

9 mins read
Forbes India
May 21, 2021

INTEGRATED HEALTH CARE, TECH WILL DISRUPT SECTOR

While clinical research will get a boost, having a skilled workforce and public spending on health care will be challenges in the near term

8 mins read
Forbes India
May 21, 2021

DIGITALISATION WILL HELP IN VALUE CREATION

As the pandemic brings technology and innovation to the core of business and daily life, the next decade will see about 150 million digital-first families in India

8 mins read
Forbes India
May 21, 2021

Industry 4.0: Climate Revolution?

Augmenting sustainability alongside digital capabilities is an economic, competitive and global opportunity for India’s businesses, but regulations need to reflect intent

10 mins read
Forbes India
June 4, 2021

EV Dream Still Miles Away

Electric vehicles have remained a buzzword in India for years. But not much has moved on ground due to high upfront costs, range anxiety and charging infrastructure

6 mins read
Forbes India
June 4, 2021

Living Waters

A virus has caused us to scramble for oxygen but our chokehold on the environment is slowly strangling the very waters that breathe life into us. The virus is a timely reminder: We are merely consumers, not producers of life’s breath on this planet

4 mins read
Forbes India
June 4, 2021
RELATED STORIES

THE CAB RIDE

I sat in the cab on my way to the airport as the driver zoomed over Delhi’s wide roads. The sun was rising over the horizon as a new day dawned – quite literally, as election day approached the city of Delhi.

1 min read
Heartfulness eMagazine
August 2021

U.S. GRANDPA, 95, EXPOSED AS NAZI NIGHTMARE!

Justice Dept. boots him back to Germany

2 mins read
National Enquirer
March 22, 2021

The Birds of Kanha

RAJESH MENON is a photographer from Delhi, who specializes in images from nature. Here he shares some of the beautiful birds of Kanha Shanti Vanam, the 1300 acre property outside Hyderabad, India, that is the international headquarters of the Heartfulness Institute. It is also a green sanctuary.

2 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
February 2021

Memories

ANIRUDH DHANDA explores the way memories trigger heartfelt events and people from the past, and remind us of situations that evoke emotional responses. Is this what being human is all about?

2 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
June 2020

El derecho a estar segura

Desde que un ataque horrendo conmocionara a India, las mujeres de ese país han demandado -y obtenido- más protección frente al acoso y el abuso en espacios públicos,

6 mins read
National Geographic en Español
Noviembre 2019

Building A Sporting Nation

Marathons are changing the shape of the nation. We ask the brains behind the Delhi and Mumbai Half Marathons, how exactly.

2 mins read
FHM India
October 2018

H. Moser & Cie

El clásico de la relojería se reinventa y llega a México.

2 mins read
Caras México
Diciembre 2021

Work on Central Vista continues, Govt set to issue notice to CPWD

WITH CONSTRUCTION BAN AND OTHER CURBS, AIR STILL ‘VERY POOR’

2 mins read
Millennium Post Delhi
December 02, 2021

Making a point

ENGLISH writer Graham Greene once said, “My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does.”

2 mins read
The Morning Standard
December 02, 2021

Four international passengers Covid positive

Two more admitted to hospital with symptoms, samples sent for genome sequencing to ascertain if it is Omicron

1 min read
The Morning Standard
December 02, 2021