36th anniversary: business tycoon
Govindbhai Laljibhai Dholakia, 74 years
Company: Sri Ramakrishna Exports Private Limited
Total assets 4,800 crores
Where do you invest profits
Dholakia invests his profits either in expanding the business or in various philanthropic activities.
Govind Laljibhai Dholakia, the founder and director of Sri Ramakrishna Exports Pvt Ltd (SRK), is fondly called GLD by business people and fondly called Govind Kaka at home. He says, “We used to work in the fields for 14 hours a day in the scorching heat.
I didn’t study much; was barely literate. When I first came to Surat in 1964 at the age of 13, I used to polish 14 hours a day like 200-300 other diamond polishers in the city. This is how I started in this city of dreams.
Earlier during diamond polishing some 28 percent of the rough stone could be converted into a shining diamond, the rest would have become waste. Working with persistence and scientific method, Dholakia saved 34 percent of the stone instead of 28, making it a large diamond of high value. He recalls, “Instead of being happy with my work, the owner asked me to chop it down into a smaller diamond.
But I refused to do so. This incident made me realize that if I can get 6 per cent more diamond than stone, I should start my own business.” And thus began the journey of Sri Ramakrishna (SRK) Exports with two partners in 1970. Hui.
Katargam, located in the heart of Surat, is known as the global diamond polishing hub. The six-storey ‘SRK Empire’ located in Katargam and the adjacent nine-storey SRK House serve as SRK’s headquarters. The credit goes to SRK for putting Surat on the global map of diamond polishing three decades ago.
The firm currently employs 6,000 people and the number is growing steadily. The turnover of the company in 2021-22 was Rs 16,000 crore. Major clients include corporate giants like Tanishq and De Beers.
GLD is also a popular and influential figure in the business-school circuit, where he lectures about his tumultuous journey, but his talks mainly focus on values and growth.
In his autobiography Diamonds Are Forever, So Are Morals, Dholakia says, “Utilizing the true potential of diamonds was not only an art, but also a very precise and efficient science. It would take years of training to acquire the skills necessary to become a skilled diamond carver and polisher, but the science remained an enigma to most workers.
The company also exports diamonds to countries like America, Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan. The company has direct purchase of rough diamonds with De Beers, Arctic Canadian Diamond Company Limited and Rio Tinto. It has the capacity to process more than 7,20,000 carats of rough diamonds annually.
A deeply religious and social person, Dholakia spends a lot of time with his family apart from attending public events where he talks about the importance of ethics and values for success.
A significant portion of the company’s profits are used to support medical camps, schools and colleges, and charitable causes. Apart from this, the company also does other works of welfare and charity of the workers.