Mr. S.K. Wadhawan – The Soft spoken Business Magnate

Suryaprakash Special to IIK
Sunday, September 4, 2011

A man who has established a business empire in Kuwait has his roots rooted in India and wants to see India that goes on to become the economic super power in the world. When IIK met Mr. S.K.Wadhawan, a well know Indian entrepreneur in Kuwait and one of the top 100 powerful Indians in the Middle East (as per Arabian Business Magazine Survey), we were pleasantly surprised to see a simple dressed man smiling and sharing his views on business, life values and on India. We present here Mr. S.K. Wadhawan in a nutshell.

IIK: Sir, could you share with us some important mile stones in your establishing this huge business empire in Kuwait and in India??

S.K.: First let me tell you that I do not belong to a business family. I am a self-made man. This business was started by me. I was very ambitious to own a business right from a young age. I came to Kuwait in late fifties as a fresher. As a humble beginning, I started out as a salesman in a Spare Parts firm. After gaining extensive knowledge and lot of exposure in the auto industry, I plunged to take a big leap of faith and started my own business. A meager start-up capital and a shop in the year 1964 led to the establishment of Samara Auto Supplies Ltd. Today, SAMARA has grown into a multifold group and is one of the largest parts distributors in Kuwait and the Gulf. An impeccable reputation and prudent business sense has earned SAMARA a name synonymous with trust and quality. Way back in early eighties when Maruti car was launched in India, I started pushing for a dealership of the same but didn’t succeed. However, we didn’t lose hope and determination and waited for a very long time till Hyundai Motors launched their first car in India when Samara was one of the first dealers to be appointed in New Delhi. Under leadership of my younger son Rajnish Wadhawan, Samara Hyundai has grown multifold both in size and volume. Since its inception in 1998, Samara Hyundai has been No. 1 dealer for Hyundai cars throughout India. Samara’s growth story continues by becoming premium brand Honda cars dealer in the year 2008, running under the name AutoMax Honda. In February this year only, Samara has been appointed dealer for prestigious and luxury brand AUDI.

IIK: Automobile Industry has cut throat competition. So how do you manage to stay on top?

S.K.: It is not only automobile industry that has cut throat competition. Every business now days has a severe competition and to survive through such tough markets, dedication, sincerity and creditability are most important factors that keep you sailing smoothly.

IIK: Managing such a huge inventory is a herculean task? How did you manage in the times when computers and softwares were not there in the market?

S.K.: In those old days, when there were no computers everything was being done manually. We used to maintain cardex system to control our inventories. As time went by computers came and now we have all the information at the click of a button but many a times I just start imagining as how things could have been without computers. Advancement in science and technology has brought lot many changes in our life.

IIK: How do you manage your work force so efficiently?

S.K.: You see we have many people who have been working with us for a very long time; some may be for 30 or 40 years. I don’t recall if someone got fired in our company. We work as a team and it is like a family. Here in Kuwait, we don’t have a very big number but in India, we have over 500 people working and all are treated as member of Samara Parivar.

IIK: What are your views on Corporate Social Responsibility?

S.K.: I don’t like to show off or publicize but we are always ready to lend a helping hand and actively participate in all social, cultural and humanitarian activities. My wife Veena gives me full-fledged support and participation in full-filling our social obligations. We are a much contended couple and never forget to thank Almighty God for blessing us such a position that we can do something for good and noble causes. I happen to be the President of an organization called Arsha Vidya Bharti whose founder is Swami Dayananda Sarswati. This organization helps to provide education to under privileged children in remote Indian villages and is also spreading Indian cultural values through the teachings of Vedanta.

IIK: As a Chairman of Indian Business Council in Kuwait, can you brief about IBC's functions?

S.K.: I am the current Chairman of IBC which was established about ten years back under the patronage of The Ambassador of India. IBC is a non-profit voluntary association of Indian businessmen, corporate executives and has now over 100 members. Its aim is to promote business, trade, investments and other forms of cooperation between Kuwait and India. The council has established strong institutional linkage with leading trade bodies in India namely ASSOCHAM, CII, FICCI as well as Kuwait Chamber of Commerce & Industry. IBC has hosted series of events every year including seminars, meetings with eminent speakers, high level trade delegations from India and presentations on Indian Economy. We provide a very vibrant platform for Indian companies interested in setting up business in Kuwait and likewise Kuwaiti businessmen interested in entering to Indian market. We have held meetings with highest level decision makers in India and Kuwait including Ministers, Chief Ministers, Parliamentarians and Industry leaders to propose ideas for promotion of trade and good relations between our two friendly countries. The council has also taken up issues of wider concern to Indian community in Kuwait and has stood up to support the humanitarian causes if and when an emergency arose in India or Kuwait.

IIK: How do you feel to be a part of Indian Community living in Kuwait?

S.K.: I feel proud to belong to this large community. We are the most respected and law abiding expat community in Kuwait. As a part of NRI fraternity, I have found one thing in common that anyone who leaves the country to make a livelihood abroad becomes very hard working realizing very well that survival in a foreign land is not easy. Here, people concentrate on their work to make good and comfortable life for their families living with them or back home in India.

IIK: A thought you wish to share with the readers of IIK

S.K. My advice to the reader’s especially younger generation is to have a focused approach and commitment in whatever it is that they wish to achieve. It is true that nothing can be achieved without the support of some higher power but more important is to have confidence and believe in yourself. With such mind set and rock solid determination one can make his own destiny.

One of the reasons behind Mr. Wadhawan continued success is the combined efforts exerted by the close-knit family which include his wife Mrs. Veena, a homemaker, two sons as well as a daughter Poonam. Young and restless both Avnish and Rajnish serve as right and left arms of Mr. Wadhawan. Avnish is a technocrat from Georgia Tech, U.S.A. helps his father in managing overseas businesses and Rajnish the younger one a graduate from Delhi University manage Indian operations.

Mr. S. Surya Prakash is General Manager of MEMOC Kuwait and also a passionate mentor for both adults and children in art of public speaking. He has conceived and conducted many programs for school children in Kuwait to showcase their public speaking talents on a wider platform. He is NACE (US)/AMPP (US) Certified instructor in his professional field and a TMI (US) certified Competent Communicator in Public Speaking
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