My phone hasn’t stopped ringing, says Rajni Bector after winning Padma Shri
Ever since the news of her being honoured with the Padma Shri broke, Rajni Bector’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Being a recipient of the fourth highest civilian honour in the country, the 80-year-old founder of Cremica confesses it is a moment of glory for her family and residents of Ludhiana.
“I have been flooded with congratulatory calls right since January 25 evening when the list of awardees was released by the government. My phone was buzzing till 1am the day before and yesterday was no different. Everyone is elated and is expressing their joy. It is a great honour,” she says, adding that her phone also got blocked for a moment due to the high number of calls pouring in together.
Chairman of Mrs Bectors Food Specialities Limited, the octogenarian says the journey spanning four decades has been extremely fulfilling.
Recently, the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Mrs Bectors Food Specialties opened to a resounding success, garnering 198 subscriptions to its IPO on the third day of bidding, generating bids worth ₹40,000 crore and a market value of ₹540 crore.
Starting out from her own tiny kitchen, Bector forayed into full-time business in 1978, with an investment of ₹20,000. “Everyone used to tell me the ice-creams I make are good and I should expand my work. I came from a service class background and had not thought about making my passion into a commercial venture earlier. I studied bakery at PAU, where my teachers were instrumental in inspiring me. After my sons grew up, they also joined me in the business one by one,” she says.
Bector’s biscuits, breads, buns, spreads and sauces gained popularity and her hold over market grew. Today Mrs Bector’s Food Company is valued at ₹800 crore and is exporting sauces to 64 countries.
The turning point came in the 1990s when McDonald’s was looking to establish base in the country. “We got to know they were struggling to find makers of quality buns. We met their company officials, all of whom were foreigners, and the deal was soon finalised,” she says.
Bector now supplies buns and sauces to major fast-food brands in the country, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Cafe Coffee Day and the like with their manufacturing units spread across the country.
Born in Karachi in 1940, Bector and her family later settled in Delhi. She was married into a Ludhiana-based business family, who were initially into fertiliser manufacturing business. When her three sons went to boarding school, Bector enrolled into a bakery course at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).
Reminiscing her initial years in the city, Bector says the city has grown by leaps and bounds. “When I came to Ludhiana in 1957, there used to be just four cars in the entire city. My husband and I used to walk from the Damoria pull to the Fountain Chowk, where people used to sit and chat. Life was much simpler in the absence of internet and social media,” she says.
Ask her the secret of success and she has only one word to say: “work”. “We never compromise on quality and keep innovating with the times. Quality is supreme and that is what I always tell all my sons and grandchildren as well,” she says, returning to yet another flurry of calls.