Monday, September 26, 2011

A real rags to riches tale!



Ramesh Babu started up as a barber giving haircuts for Rs 5 in 1993, today he is the owner of a 154 imported cars including a Rolls Royce. What is the magic?


Driving around town in an iconic luxury car is the stuff dreams are made of, but Ramesh Babu always believed in the power of dreams. 


His journey is so unusual, it almost seems unreal; from earning Rs 5 per hair cut in his father’s humble barber’s shop in Bangalore to a booming travel and tour business. It all started in 1993, when Ramesh’s life took a U-turn.
He bought a Maruti Omni Van for personal use which he later started renting out. Sensing the potential car rental business had, Ramesh decided to focus on the travel business. Today, he has a fleet of a 154 luxury cars that includes brands like Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen and even a Rolls Royce.


Ramesh Babu, MD, Ramesh Tours & Travels says, “My father passed away in an early age. My mother started working and brought us to this stage. My father had left us a saloon in Brigade Road, which my father had started. When my father passed away, it was given to someone to run the show and he used to pay only Rs 5 a day. After my college, I took over the saloon thinking to get into businesses of saloon. So, I started saloon business between 1989 and 1990. In 1993, I bought a car, Maruti Omni Van for my personal use. Later on I realised that if I keep it for myself, it doesn’t work. And then I started renting it out to a company called Intel, that was my first customer. That is how I started growing in car rental business.” 


Ramesh has already grossed revenues of Rs 10 crore and has clients like Hero Honda, Biocon, Tata Elexi, Maruti, ICICI Bank and Jet Airways. But instead of chasing volumes, he has always focused on targeting margins.


Babu says, “When I first picked up the van it was Rs 12.50 a litre, now it is Rs 70, almost six times the rate. But still the price for the Maruti Van per km is only Rs 5. That is the reason I thought getting into small cars. Then I thought let me concentrate on high-end cars. In 2004, when we picked the first Mercedes E Class, it was the first of its kind in South where the Mercedes brand was not available for commercial purpose.”
While margins, higher rising costs are certainly hurting growth, but the show must go on. 


Babu says, “We are planning to open branches at least in four more cities like Bombay, Delhi and Hyderabad and Chennai. Chennai, we have few cars already running. But we don’t have an office there. We will start office there by this year-end. In another five years, I should have atleast 200-300 luxury cars all over India.”

Source:moneycontrol.com

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