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Boss, team player: Why this diamond tycoon rewards employees with flats, cars

Savji Dholakia, the 53-year-old founder and owner of Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Limited (HKEPL) pays great attention to the details generated by a software that evaluates 5,500 employees of his diamond export company on various performance parameters.

india Updated: Oct 30, 2016 07:48 IST
Hiral Hansa Dave
Hiral Hansa Dave
Hindustan Times
Savji Dholakia is known for his generous gifts to employees of his  Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Limited, a diamond company.
Savji Dholakia is known for his generous gifts to employees of his Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Limited, a diamond company.(Handout photo)

He is a delight to his employees -- but only if they take the pledge to work hard. Gujarat’s Savji Dholakia is a super boss with a simple motto: mind your business, the business will take care of you. And the diamond tycoon never shies away to reward the performers in his company.

For the 53-year-old founder and owner of Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Limited pays great attention to the details generated by a software that evaluates 5,500 employees of his export firm on various performance parameters.

Apart from the usual qualitative parameters that defines an individual’s goal and role in a diamond factory --- like the quality, cut and polishing done by an employee, this special software tells Dholakia something else: how an employee is taking care of his/her family, how he/she deals with colleagues, whether he/she has developed any addiction and if the employee is mentally fit for helping the company grow.

If the parameters seem unusual, then the incentives for those who pass the test are unique too! This Diwali, the diamond tycoon in Gujarat’s Surat has given away 1,260 cars and jewellery to its 2,000 polishers. Besides, flats are waiting for top 400 performers as reward next year when Dholakia will complete 25 years in the trade.

“I not only see how the diamond is cut and polished by a particular employee. Training can take care of it. Personally, I feel humanitarian aspects like how one treats his or her family and how are they as team members are the real measures of any employee,” Dholakia told HT over phone from Surat before embarking on a Diwali vacation.

Savji Dholakia’s employees with newly gifted cars. (Handout photo)

On October 26 and 27, he handed over 1,260 cars – Datsun redi-Go and Maruti Alto – in a ceremony held at the cricket ground of the company’s multi-storey three-wing factory.

Once he is back from vacation, Dholakia will put the plan in action to build a housing colony with 400 flats exclusively for his employees. Call it philanthropy or team management, this appears to be the key to success to get the best manpower in the industry. Last year too, Dholakia had gifted cars to nearly 1,200 employees. On an average, his best employees get around Rs 4 lakh bonus in kind, mainly cars.

Coming from a humble agrarian family in Saurashtra, this Class 4 dropout moved to Surat when he was 13 years old to join his uncle in a small diamond trading firm. In 1982, he started his own business with his uncle’s support.

Soon, his three brothers – Himmat, Tulsi and Ghanshyam – joined him, helping the business grow fast. With polishing units in Surat and offices in Surat and Mumbai, Dholakia company today boasts of an annual turnover of Rs 5,000 crore.

Living in Varachha, a settlement for diamond polishers, he rode a moped for years but always dreamt of owning a house and a car. By the 1990s he got his first car – a Fiat. He has been using his favourite Mercedes Benz for nearly 16 years now.

“I realized that once you have taken care of basic needs of your family, which I feel is having your own house and car, you can focus and give 100% to work. I want my employees to give their 100%. And, that’s why I want them to be free of worries of meeting basic necessities,” said Dholakia.

As per his housing scheme, every employee who is earning more than Rs 30,000 per month will get a flat worth Rs 20 lakh for Rs 11 lakh. For the houses that the company will build, the deserving employees will get a home loan and pay an EMI of Rs 11,000 a month. The Rs 30,000-salary benchmark has been set so that those earning lesser get motivated to work hard and get promoted.

“Twice a year, Savjikaka (as Dholakia is affectionately called) takes the employees’ family members, especially their parents, on a 15-day sponsored vacation. It is during this time that he tries to find out how his employees treat their families. Besides, we also occasionally organise family get-togethers so that he can remain in touch with their families,” said Naresh Mayani, the company’s HR manager.

Savji Dholakia addresses employees before handing over cars to them on October 26. (Handout photo )

Naresh Lunagaria, who was made a partner in the firm after working for 10 years as a manager, said: “He (Dholakia) believes in investing in his team which...according to Kaka, would bring the desired results for the company. It was in 1996 that he for the first time gifted cars – Maruti 800s – to three employees and I was one of them. Next year, 11 employees received cars.”

While gifting cars became a sort of annual ritual thereon, rewarding the best performers with flats have been grabbing eyeballs since 2014.

The final call on who gets what rests with Dholakia. “I would not give car to the employee who doesn’t own a house. He or she is given house and a loan. Car can be the next step for them,” said Dholakia.

The otherwise affable Dholakia shows signs of anger if anybody questions him how much income tax he pays. “I might be paying Rs 90-100 crore. How does this matter if I try to take care of my team?” he asked.

Last year, Dholakia’s firm was mired into controversy when it allegedly denied a job in its Mumbai office to a man because he was Muslim.

The company, however, maintains that it was mistake of one of its junior recruitment employees.The firm told HT that the applicant, Zeshan Ali Khan, was not called for an interview after the incident as his profile was not fit for any position in the company.

While none of the seven partners currently running the company boasts of any major educational degree, the next generation has earned management degrees from foreign universities. But before they join the business, Dholakia wants them to learn how to earn and stand on their own feet.

Since charity begins at home, Dholakia sent his 21-year-old son Dharvya to Kerala to live on his own for a month earlier this year. Soon after arriving from New York with an MBA degree, Dharvya was sent to Kerala with limited cash for use in emergency and three pairs of clothes to find a job in a completely unfamiliar place.

“We have seen life from close quarters and our value system is built around it. Our sons, born with silver spoons in their mouths, should be aware about realities of life before we hand them over the business,” said Lunagaria.

First Published: Oct 29, 2016 13:18 IST

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