This is a tale worthy of a movie script, so it seems more than apt that the start of the Balaji Wafers story can be traced back to a cinema in Rajkot in 1974, with three brothers trying to live up to their father’s wishes to start their own business with the INR20,000 (US$270) he had gifted them when drought forced him to sell the family’s farmland. Their first attempt in the fertiliser industry hardly made it off the ground. As they pondered their next move, the trio – Bhikhubhai, Kanubhai and Chandubhai Virani – picked up work in the local cinema. As they served food and drinks, the seed of a snack business was planted.
From its modest beginnings, Balaji Wafers has become one of India’s leading manufacturers and distributors of snack food, with a range of more than 50 products and more than 90 stock keeping units (SKUs), spearheaded by the potato wafer. The brothers have become poster boys for the rewards that dedication, patience and agility can deliver to startup businesses.
“The commitment to work and the drive to achieve excellence are the key motivators in how we operate our business,” says Co-Founder and Managing Director Chandubhai Virani. “This is what has helped us to become one of the top players in the wafers market. As has the creation of a healthy working environment, which has not only allowed our employees to grow, but also our suppliers, who are also very crucial to the success of the company.”
Since The CEO Magazine last spoke to Chandubhai, the company has grown at 15 per cent per annum. “We are enjoying a constant demand for our products as the population increases and the need for better quality products at affordable prices prevails in the market,” he explains. Today, a network of more than 950 dealers has seen its wafers and other snacks such as namkeen and noodles appear on shelves across the country and in 25 international markets.
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