Sudip Dutta – The Laborer Who Turned a Loss-Making Factory Into a Rs 1,600 Crore Company

Born in a family with unremitting poverty and hardship, creates long lasting impact on younger minds. While many youngsters get into shell due to its ill-effects, few strong souls develop bigger ambitions and dreams to overpower difficulties of childhood days and grow up as inspiring personalities of the society. The focal point of this post from Kalam Fan Club is one of the biggest Entrepreneurs of modern India—Mr. Sudip Dutta whose story is similar to fairy tale stories found in kids books.

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Sudip Dutta hails from Durgapur in West Bengal, and his father served in Indian army during 1971 Indo-Pak War. Unfortunately, he was paralyzed by bullet wounds during that war and the responsibility of running the family vested on Sudip’s elder brother. Due to ill fate, he succumbed to death falling ill. This was a terrible blow for Sudip’s family and his father unable to cope with the shock also died. The family had no one to shoulder the responsibility of looking after the siblings and widow mother, except Sudip.

As Sudip himself has mentioned, His childhood hardship made him ambitious in life and also taught him to value money. Sudip’s friends coaxed him to relocate to Mumbai, as it is the only place to relish bigger dreams. Also, Sudip being a diehard fan of Big-B Amitabh Bachchan, who too had faced hardships and migrated to Mumbai before becoming the super star of Bollywood, He took the train to Mumbai outweighing educational dreams to support the family with his earnings.

Mumbai Life Starts as a Packer Boy   

Sudip Dutta was 16 years old in 1988 when he took a train from Durgapur to the financial capital of India, Mumbai. Except ambitions to become a successful person in his twinkling eyes, he didn’t have a single penny in the pocket. The responsibility to take care of four siblings and mother back home due to unexpected deaths of father and brother made Sudip take up a Packers job in a small packaging unit. There were 12 members working in this packaging unit, and Sudip earned Rs.15/- as daily wages. He used to walk 40 Km from his room at Meera road to Jogeshwari locality, thus saving transportation expenses to send it back home. He used to stay with 20 members in a single room with no space to stretch legs. As an employee at packaging firm Sudip played various roles like packer, loader, and delivery boy. This experience helped him to develop an insight of Packaging Industries intricacies.

Game-Changer in the form of Shutdown

The packaging firm was reeling under losses, and the management failed to rejuvenate it. Finally, in the year 1991 management decided to shut down the operations and sell off the unit. Sudip Dutta didn’t get disheartened instead he looked at this situation as an opportunity and persuaded the management to sell the unit to him for Rs. 16,000/- that he had accumulated. But he knew the unit’s worth was more than the capital he could afford; He had a simple strategy in place; He promised to return the entire profit of first two years to the original owners. The original owners were pleased with this deal as it offered a win-win position for both. So, 19-year-old Sudip Dutta who could have spent his entire life in Durgapur with small ambitions as a rickshaw puller or hotel waiter could taste the first success as an Entrepreneur with an element of a rarity in it, as he was a daily wages laborer succeeding in buying the unit itself. Sudip had transformed from a person struggling to meet the ends of his family to look after the needs of seven or eight families working in his packaging unit.

Building up the Business of ESS Dee

It was a highly competitive period in Indian Aluminium foils and packaging industry. Sudip’s ESS DEE started innovating products as competition from giants in the arena like Jindal group was tough. Sudip with his good soft skill abilities was able to procure orders from smaller firms. As the prowess developed Sudip could bag orders from big pharmaceutical firms like Cipla, Sun Pharma, and Nestle.

Acquisition of India Foils by ESS DEE-Year 2008

Sudip Dutta didn’t want to be labeled as a mid-cap player in aluminum foil making industry. He was eagerly waiting to be termed as a Large-cap player in the market like Vedanta and Jindal groups. He was a constant observer of competitors and had an eye on India Foils—the biggest but loss making foil manufacturer and first to roll out foils in Asia way back in 1936. Initially, Khaitan group sold India Foil to Vedanta group lead by Maverick Anil Agarwal.  But Vedanta despite its deep pocket finances and leader like Anil Agarwal failed to revive India Foils.

Sudip capitalized the market situation and took the risk of buying the loss making India Foils from Vedanta for 130 crores in 2008. Many market pundits termed this decision of ESS DEE as a blunder, as ESS DEE was a small player compared to India Foils in the market and many thought it would be difficult for Sudip to handle labor issues in the communism belt of West Bengal.

But Sudip Dutta had other ideas, His aim was to be labeled as the largest manufacturer of aluminum foils and this he achieved through India Foils acquisition. He knew that there is no magic wand to restart all the three plants of India foil running and incur profit from them.

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He took an evolutionary approach to reviving one manufacturing plant at a time, and his soft skills, ability to work along with the workers on the floor and his background as a Bengali native and interestingly his terabyte-sized memory that can remember workers by names all helped him to solve labor issues.

On manufacturing front he applied Hub & Spoke Model with ESS DEE hub operational from Daman and India Foils at Kolkata working as the second hub, He could supply goods to Clients in less than 6 hours. Thus India Foils which was incurring one crore loss in the first quarter was reduced to 22 Lakhs in subsequent years. Unlike Vedanta group, Sudip’s ESS DEE didn’t aim at bringing in radical changes in India Foils system.

Currently, India Foils Kamrahati plant and Hoera plant are operational with a capacity of 19,000 tons of foils manufacturing. Hoera plant is aimed at supplying foils to FMCG groups whereas Kamrahati targets industrial clients.

Sudip Dutta has expanded his operations in international market too. With his tried and tested Hub & Spokes model he is exporting to more than 50 countries across the globe. Though their primary clients are Pharmaceuticals, they have expanded to FMCG market too. Countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, USA, Jordan, Egypt

Nigeria, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, Nepal, Kenya, Ghana, Greece, Philippines are clients of ESS DEE Aluminium.

Giving Back to the Society

Today Sudip Dutta has all luxuries at his door step. But being the humble person he is bent upon helping thousands of ‘Sudip Duttas’ who migrate from remotest corners of this diversified nation to cities with dreams and ambitions. In this direction, he has initiated ‘PROJECT HELPING HAND‘ through which underprivileged youths of the nation with bright minds are trained up in vocational courses enhance their employable opportunities and are also prepare them to start up their ventures. The prime objective of this project is to ensure the steady flow of skilled workers in the area of Industries.

Sudip Dutta’s entrepreneurial skills have also won his company various awards and recognitions like:

  • Jamnalal Bajaj Award for the Best Manufacturing Enterprise (small) Year- 2009
  • National Industrial Excellence Award (from Achievers Society for Technology & Social Development
    The year 2007)
  • Best Customer Award By GARMCO 2006 & 2007
  • International Quality Excellence Award (from International Business Productivity Forum 2007)
  • Business Leadership Award For Industrial Development (from Indian Economic Development & Research Association)

Downfall of Sudip Dutta’s Empire

Though Sudip succeeded in acquiring India Foils and restarting two of its units in West Bengal, His calculations of acquiring a big-fish like India Foils misfired totally. Currently, its operations at Kamarhati, Taratolla, and Haroa in Bengal have shutdown. Also, Sudip Dutta has been alleged of not paying salaries, provident funds, and other remunerations to employees and police case against him to be arrested warrant is issued. Similar to the situation faced by King Fisher Vijay Mallya, Sudip Dutta has fled to Singapore. Really it is an anticlimax to such a journey of building entrepreneurship from scratch.

4 Comments

  1. Bikash Hawaibam July 23, 2017
  2. Asha July 23, 2017
  3. Bappa deb July 23, 2017
  4. Ramesh Chandu August 31, 2017

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