“Our logo is our destiny” feels Dr Amarnath Gupta, Chairman & Managing Director of Premier Explosives Limited. In 1980 when he was choosing the logo, a satellite-launch came out of his memory layers and he made a rocket-image his company logo. But he never imagined in his wildest dreams that he would ever come nearer to a rocket. As if selection of logo is an instance of premonition, today his company emerged as the only Indian private entity designing, developing and manufacturing rocket motors for the important missile programs of India.
Born on 14th April 1945 in Jammu, Dr Amar has had an inquisitive mind since childhood. In 1966, after graduating from Ranchi University, he got an employment offer from McNeil & Berry Coal Company Limited. The offer was an irresistibly tempting one to any youngster hailing from a middle class family in those times, but not to Amar. He wanted to pursue higher education in the field he is passionate about – mining and explosives; and at the premium institute he cherished to be in – the Indian School of Mining (ISM), Dhanbad. True to his caliber, he secured the coveted Pickering Medal from ISM and Gold Medal from Mining Geological & Metallurgical Institute of India (MGMI) for best paper of the year.
He worked for about ten years with Indian Explosives Limited and gained extensive knowledge on explosives industry. In 1979 a coal mining company in southern part of India, facing severe shortage of explosives, made a challenging offer to Amar whether he can start his own unit to manufacture explosives without imported technology. The answer was a confident “I can”. “You don’t have to be a multinational company to manufacture explosives,” was the resolve of Dr Amar.
His company, Premier Explosives Limited, started making explosives with indigenous technology, at a time when imported technology was the norm. Premier was instrumental in emergence of a number of indigenous explosive manufacturers shedding the myth that only a select few foreign companies can do that. At the age of about 70 years now, he doesn’t show any signs of decline in his energy and enthusiasm.
Dr Amar has led the company from a small scale industry to the one manufacturing entire range of bulk/packaged explosives and accessories like boosters, detonators, detonating fuse, etc., used in mining and infrastructure industries. The company has six explosive manufacturing units – three in Telangana state and one each in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamilnadu.
In 2003 the company forayed into manufacture of defence products starting with a small igniter for the Agni missile. The company has worked with various defence research laboratories for design, development and production of solid propellants and emerged as the only Indian private entity in the field. Today Premier is qualified to manufacture solid propellants for the prestigious missile programs like Akash, Astra, Pinaka, etc. and is in an advanced stage of qualification for Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM).
Premier’s business streams include operations and maintenance services for the solid propellant plants of Sriharikota Range Satellite Launching Station (SHAR) of Indian Space Research Organisation and Solid Fuel Complex of Advanced Systems Laboratory. These contracts enabled the company to further sharpen the propellant making skills.
Having been listed on Bombay Stock Exchange and having ten Board members with expertise in technical, marketing, finance and administrative fields, the company accords highest priority for corporate governance following fair and efficient practices.
He guided Premier to develop commercial scale production process for CL-20, the most powerful explosive on the earth. Dr Amar is responsible for the company to have collaborations with Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and Gulbarga University for research in high energy materials. He also steered his company to develop and produce NHN-based detonators on commercial scale (first in the world) which are safer than conventional ASA- based detonators and also are eco-friendly with no element of lead. The product was acclaimed as “a breakthrough in detonators manufacturing during the last 75 years”.
A strong subscriber to clean energy he set up a rooftop solar power system at his home about 30 years ago which is still running well. His commitment to green environment made his company to set up a windmill, a rooftop solar power unit over the office building and a captive solar power unit at factory. With all these measures, Premier’s green power generation is much higher than the grid power it consumes, thus leaving no carbon footprint.
Dr Amar treats his 1200 staff members as his extended family, adopting many employee-enabling practices. He is a firm believer in power of focus and encourages his employees to “Be Present” in their tasks at hand for effective output. “Consensus in decision making” is his mantra for teamwork so that decisions are owned and are acted upon without any sense of imposition.
A successful entrepreneur, Dr Amar is a person of deep insights and values. He is passionate about giving back to the society and has been contributing towards many education and health initiatives. Of late, he has allocated an hour daily morning for spiritual readings.
“Pursue knowledge-based products for defence and specialized fields” is the vision of his company and he truly works for that. “In today’s competitive world, operating efficiencies tend to be equal across the companies and ‘knowledge’ only can stand out as a differentiator assuring long term benefits to the stakeholders,” remains his way of thinking.
Dr Amarnath has also authored his own articles including ‘Explosives in Mica industry’, ‘Explosives as a tool for salvaging heavy shafts’, ‘Blasting Coal off-the-solid in long wall mining’, ‘An investigation into the development of Strain in Coal ahead of the face’ and ‘Explosives in Forestry’. He presented his latest paper ‘A Safer and Green Detonator with NHN Substituting ASA’ at the 40th Annual Conference on Explosives & Blasting Technique held in Denver, Colorado, USA on 10th February, 2014.
At some rousing moments he also writes poems in his native language Hindi with the pen name ‘Chirag’ (meaning ‘lamp’).
Compassionate at heart, he drives Corporate Social Responsibility programmes of his company and also personally contributes good amounts for education and health initiatives, having a positive impact on the lives of people around him.