We are living in times where Entrepreneurs are building companies with Work Hard to Retire Young motto.
Slogans such as “Young, Rich, and Free” have become so common that somehow every young college-goer wants to raise investments, build a company, sell it to the investors and spend the rest of his life on the beaches of the world, all in a matter of five to ten years.
Today, we are NOT going to discuss any such story… but one with the hard work, perseverance, and humility of a 100 Years – The Story of MDH.
Meet the Man, the face of MDH – Dharampal Gulati
Padma Bhushan to Mahashay Dharampal Gulati
If one has seen the advertisement of MDH Masala on television, it is hard to miss Dharampal Gulati, better known as the king of spices. The 94-year-old has made a mark across the country but has faced many hardships and struggles to reach there.
Born and raised in Sialkot, Pakistan, Dharampal’s father Chuni Lal sold spices from a small shop Mahashian Di Hat, which he opened in 1919. Gulati left school in 1933 while he was in the fifth standard.
During partition, the family migrated from Pakistan to India and stayed at a refugee camp in Amritsar for a while. Dharampal, along with his brother-in-law, then traveled to Delhi. In Delhi, Dharampal bought a horse-drawn carriage with the money his father lent him. He invested Rs 650 from the Rs 1,500 he had borrowed from his father to the carriage.
Since horse-drawn carriage business was “not moving fast”, Dharampal sold the carriage and bought a small shop in Karol Bagh. He restarted his family business of what he does best – selling spices.
As the business started to get pace, Dharampal rented another shop in Chandni Chowk in 1953. He purchased a plot in Kirti Nagar in 1959 to start his own factory, and this led to the birth of Mahashian Di Hatti Limited (MDH).
What are the Ingredients of His Strong Brand?
MDH has offices in Dubai and London and exports to about 100 countries. Gulati’s son manages the overall operations now and six daughters handle distribution region wise.
At over 95 years old and still running, MDH now has a range of 62 different products available in more than 150 packages. It continues to produce new spice blends. The company has five state-of-the-art factories to meet the growing demand for spices across the world. From ground single spices to aromatic spice blends, MDH produces it all.
The brand has become synonymous with good taste and delectable flavour. MDH, that has more than 60 products, gets a bulk of its sales from three variants – Deggi Mirch, Chat Masala and Chana Masala – each selling roughly a crore packets every month.
The company attributes its success to its supply-chain -from contract farming and sourcing spices from Karnataka and Rajasthan to Afghanistan and Iran.
Apart from that, Three aspects that are extremely important for his company and product are – sincere work, quality product, and affordable prices. The owner of around 80 percent stake in the company, Dharampal routinely visits his factory and the market to ensure things are running smoothly.
Finances and Charity
MDH had posted a net profit of Rs 213 crore while its total revenues were Rs 924 crore last fiscal, according to The Economic Times and Gulati holds 80% stake in the company.
The 94-year-old Founder and CEO of Mahashian Di Hatti (MDH) Spices, Mahashay Dharampal Gulati, earned ₹21 crore as salary in 2017. higher than Adi Godrej and Vivek Gambhir of Godrej Consumer, Sanjiv Mehta of Hindustan Unilever and YC Deveshwar of ITC.
Dharampal, who is a fifth-grade school dropout, has a salary higher than some of the highest paid CEOs in India. Notably, Gulati has said that nearly 90% of his salary goes to charity in his personal capacity.
His Mahashay Chunni Lal Charitable Trust (named after his father) runs a 250-bed hospital, a mobile hospital for slum dwellers and four schools.