Thursday, May 26, 2011

Making Possible The Impossible

Zafar Shaikh - Managing Director, Pinch Bottling Co., Jalgaon

While working with Zafar Shaikh at Star Bottling Company in Jalgaon nineteen years ago, the fellow co-workers had never imagined that he would one day become the sole owner of the huge plant. But highly ambitious Zafar had a plan working into his mind and was eagerly waiting for his turn. And that very opportunity knocked his doors in 1990.

“Because of the honesty and determination with which I had served at Star Bottling Company for years, the owners had little problem handing over the plant to me when they decided to sell it out in 1990”, recalled Zafar Shaikh.

After selling the ancestral land and with the help of the financial assistance from Maharashtra State Finance Corporation (MSFC), he was able to transfer the ownership rights in his name. Star Bottling Co. now became Pinch Bottling Company. But the bigger challenge awaited him ahead. “The company had a reliable standing as far as manufacturing the bottles was concerned. But the Pinch Soda we were manufacturing was not able to impact the market in a way we had expected.”

Searching for the ways, the master in foods and aerated water finally decided to launch Zeera Masala Soda with natural ingredients. “When I discussed it with my friends, they termed me mad. Paagal Ho Gaya Hai, they declared unanimously”, he reminded. But the stubborn in Zafar Shaikh ultimately triumphed and when he invited his friends for a ‘Trial-Taste’ of Zeera Masala, they all were stumped. “Today the situation is such that at many places in the country including the cities like Mumbai and Pune, people refuse to take their foods if they don’t find my Zeera-Masala in the hotels”, Zafar said as the proud poured out from his glittering eyes.

The success of Zeera Masala inspired him even further and he started planning for some new exclusive product line. “I believed the country is very strong in agriculture, food and beverages. My belief became stronger after the success of Zeera Masala and it became evident to me that if I persist with quality coupled with reasonable rate, there is absolutely no challenge to me in the world”, Zafar explored in a clear and determined tone. Mecca Cola, Mecca Orange and Mecca Lemon soon followed Zeera Masala into the soft drink market.

Learning a lesson or two from countries like China, Zafar decided to utilize the country’s natural resources for his own advantage. He came out with yet another exclusive Mecca Leechi that made the alarm bell ringing in the competitions who were still recovering from the impact of his earlier products in the market.

The launch of Mecca Leechi was a sever blow to the competition. But for Zafar, it was a moral booster. “While marketing my products I realised that a large proportion of the young generation in the country is attracted towards alcohol”, said Zafar philosophically as one more of his qualities exposed to us. “I decided to come out with Cocktail No.1 in a beer-like packaging for the youth of the country. Along with promoting it in the regular soft-drink market, I personally reached to the people selling alcohol and requested them to keep Cocktail No.1 along with regular wines”, he said adding, “My non-alcoholic beer Cocktail No.1 recorded a huge selling even from the wine-racks and is attracting the customers located abroad too.”

Elaborating how he came out with 330 ml plastic bottles with an exclusive crown cap packing after his competitors indulged in dirty practices, Zafar said, “By expansion and tricks alone we can challenge the MNCs who instead of fighting with the quality are engaged in dirty practices.”

After his manufacturing unit in Jalgaon became insufficient to cope with the huge demands, Zafar started a new manufacturing unit in January 2009 at Sirsoli few kilometers away from the main city. With the new manufacturing unit starting the production, Zafar along with his regular Mecca Cola, Mecca Orange, Mecca Leechi and Coktail No. 1, launched the new range of products comprising Juices in various flavors, Jam, Jelly and Pickles including yet another exclusive, the Banana Juice, the first of its kind in the country.

Looking at the pace with which Zafar is working today, we are sure even his Sirsoli unit will become insufficient to supply the demands his products are receiving world over.

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