Shouldering a 62-year old automobile business organization and taking it to enviable heights at a young age is not something we hear of daily. It requires nerves of steel, undaunted spirit and extraordinary leadership skills. The case in point here is 38-year old Shaunak Parikh, the proud director of Utkal Automobiles.Established in 1955 in the town of Jamshedpur, Utkal holds many coveted dealerships of Mahindra, Hyundai and Yamaha in Orissa.He has been instrumental in taking his business to admirable heights and raising productivity in the company’s operations while investing heavily in research and development.
Born in Jamshedpur, Parikh hailed from a business family. His father and uncles had already established themselves in the automobile industry. Greatly influenced, he harboured dreams of becoming a successful businessman like them one day. Educated in both India and U.S, Parikh briefly worked for a firm in New York before shifting his base to Mumbai.
Subsequently, he worked for Mahindra and Mahindra which he says, was a good learning experience for him. Parikh joined the family business in 2006. He did not have any know-how about automobile business. But his firm belief and sound business ethics led him to turn the tables every time challenges cropped in. Recalling the initial days in Bhubaneswar, he says, “At that time, I was only 26. The city, people and business- everything was new for me so I realized that I had to start from the scratch. I got to know that our company already had over 200 staffs. Most of them were senior to me- in terms of age and experience. It did take some time to break the ice but in the end, everything fell into place.”
Unlike most of his peers who happen to be married to a single brand, he has already partnered three- Mahindra, Hyundai and Yamaha, that happens to be the biggest brands in trade around the world. As if that was not enough: each of his franchisees- Utkal Mahindra, Utkal Hyundai and Utkal Yamaha make good money and boast of huge loyal customer base.
Still during the 12 years of long business journey, one thing that he has earned is a huge and loyal customer base because of his business ethics whichare transparent and customer-oriented. This was the main driving factor that helped him achieve tremendous growth in the first few months.
Notwithstanding the unique identity he has carved for himself, Parikh feels he is still learning. “Every day is a new day for me. The industry demands you to be aggressive by approach. Hence I am used to the regular challenges and that has made the journey more eventful for me,” he confesses.
Parikh is unfazed over the growing competition in the industry. He says, “The market is rapidly growing. We are already the market leaders. So, keeping pace with our growth is our sole target.”Parikh’s hard work and dedication has also paid rich dividends in the form of accolades and appreciations from all quarters. Notably, Utkal Mahindra won three prestigious awards during the Mahindra Dealers Excellence Program in Vienna earlier this year.Utkal Hyundai continues to stay on top among the Hyundai dealerships in East India. That apart, Utkal Mahindra also finished among the top two best performing dealerships in India last year.
Parikh sounded confident when asked regarding the ‘Make in Odisha’ initiative of the state government but suggested some improved policies and reforms can boast the morale of industry players like him.
For a man who loves playing golf, watching movies and spending quality time with friends and family, Parikh looks up to his father as inspiration. He says, “I’ve learnt a lot from my father. He always saw everyone with equal respect and was rooted to his ethics. He would advise me to be fair and transparent with the employees. And I have tried my level best to live up to his expectations!”
The young businessman gets good support at work from his wife Sudipta Parikh, who joined the business in 2007. “She has been a tremendous support. She juggles between work and home and has never complained a little. Hats off to her commitment! She has played an equal role in shaping the brand of the company that it is today,” he proudly said.
The ambitious businessman says remaining market leaders is his ultimate goal. “We plan to increase our sales and at the same time, strive hard to provide our customers world-class and hassle-free service. As of now there are no plans to add new brands to our portfolio. Our hands are already full with existing brands and products. But if any such opportunities comes our way, we would definitely like to give it a thought,” he signs off.