From very humble beginnings, Mr H M Bharuka’s rise to success as the Managing Director of Kansai Nerolac (KNPL), India’s leading Paint Company has been meteoric and inspirational. His passion for numbers and a love for operations led him to become a Cost and Management accountant (ACMA).
He began his career as a commercial trainee in Siemens India in 1981. In 1985 he joined Kansai Nerolac as an Assistant manager in Costing. From an early stage
Mr Bharuka has displayed an ability to continuously learn and experiment; quickly getting to the heart of the matter, instantly connecting with people coupled with relentless execution.
Mr. Bharuka has something of a reputation of being a turnaround expert and high risk taker with an exceptional track record. Just before he became MD at KNPL, he was tasked with the job of turning around the perpetual loss making powder unit as well as ensuring the smooth closure of the pigment division which was a drain to KNPL. While he not only turned around the powder business, he also ensured that it has been profitable ever since. He closed the pigment division smoothly after taking care of the workmen, customers and successfully recovering all dues.
Profitability was always a challenge for KNPL. Liberalisation in the 90s changed the rules of the game and brought in foreign players which only compounded matters for KNPL. With an age old system and traditional mind-set, organisation was unable to respond to the evolving and fast changing market, making survival difficult. Convinced that only doing something extraordinary would ensure survival, Mr Bharuka was instrumental in convincing the management to use IT as an enabler of change. He backed it with a personal commitment to ensure a successful implementation. KNP invested in SAP, who until then did not have a single successful paint site live on its ERP platform. Under his leadership within 9 months KNP went live on ERP flawlessly. This implementation marked a turning point for KNP, creating employees who believed in themselves and infused the company with a CAN DO mind-set.
Handling these 3 tough diverse assignments successfully is possibly what prompted the Board to entrust him with the job of leading the organisation in 2001. That he is now into his 4th term speaks volumes of the trust and credibility he enjoys.
KNPL was always known as industrial paint company. In the long run however, for any player who wants to be significant, becoming a strong player in the larger Decorative paint market is a must. However this was easier said than done with a large monopoly player operating in that segment and low brand recall for KNPL. Choosing to be different, Bharuka embarked on positioning KNP in the minds of the consumer as a perceptual leader in the Decorative Paint market. Environment was chosen as a means for brand differentiation and followed up with a launch of unique first of its kind in India lead free coatings of the entire portfolio as well as zero/low VOC products backed with a bold consumer outreach through a huge media spend. This path breaking step virtually changed the rules of the industry forcing industry to follow. This was backed with the transformation of the supply chain into being real time, dynamic and responsive to handle 4 factories, 108 depots, 18000 dealers and 7000 SKUs in the process replacing old plants with new world class plants. Next followed innovations in the traditional retail channel by introducing new retail formats along with connect with the consumer through celebrity endorsement.
These series of firsts in a traditional status quo industry has been reflected in Brand ratings. Today KNP is considered a serious player in the Decorative space.
In Industrial too Mr Bharuka ensured that the company maintained leadership through a relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction through the continuous introduction of innovative technology products over the years while building on the themes of deep customer centricity.
In order to ensure better growth Mr Bharuka also ensured the creation of new growth engines like Performance Coatings, Wood Finishes and Auto refinishes for KNPL.
KNPL numbers now reflect these changes. KNP today has grown from under Rs. 700 cr to Rs 4640 cr. while enjoying a double digit CAGR during his tenure, KNP Market cap has grown 150 times from Rs 130 cr to over 20000 cr. PBT as a % of sales has grown from 5.8 % to 14% contributed by 2700 employees. It is a lead supplier to a host of reputed names like Toyota, Honda, Suzuki, Tata Motors, Hero, Bajaj, Whirlpool, and Godrej amongst many others.
Recognising Mr Bharuka’s immense contribution within the Kansai Paint group, he was appointed to the global executive committee at Kansai Paints in 2011. In 2017 he was appointed a Director for Kansai Paint Co.Ltd, Japan, a first for a non- Japanese. He has been actively involved in various strategic initiatives at Kansai including M & A.
Known for his simplicity and simple life style, Mr. Bharuka is acknowledged by one and all for his ability to connect with his employees, customers and vendors. He regularly visits the market, often staying at facilities meant for ground operations personnel to get a feel of how the organisation is actually performing in the trenches.
His big bet is on Digitalisation. Being blessed with an ability to visualise the power of IT, he has worked tirelessly to ensure alignment of people, processes and technology through successive waves of strategic IT investments in all operational areas. Building on the success of the ERP implementation, KNPL has evolved into a tech savvy company that always bets on technology ahead of the curve.
His passion for Leadership development has manifested into the creation of unique development platforms for young managers. The hall mark of this process is that the entire leadership team has come from within. His love for transparency, data driven culture and high accountability have manifested in the way the performance management system has been built and operated, leading to a high performance culture.
Mr Bharuka is credited for transforming KNPL from an organisation which was uncertain about its future to an organisation which is future ready.
Performance of KNPL is not only recognised by market with a phenomenal rise in market cap but also by society by way of numerous awards like Best corporate governance, Best Managed company, Outstanding Entrepreneur of the year amongst many others.