36th anniversary: business tycoon
Rajat Agarwal, 55 years,
Company: Gravita India Limited
Total assets 1,800 crores
where do you invest
They invest the profits in new ventures in recycling aluminum, paper, copper and plastics, and manufacturing lithium-ion batteries, in addition to increasing the company’s capacity.
Born in a government hospital to doctor father Mahavir Prasad and homemaker mother Mala, Rajat Agarwal studied mechanical engineering in 1989 from Regional Engineering College, Jaipur. He did most of his studies through Hindi medium and that too from government schools. He was a brilliant and diligent student.
Due to being in a government hospital, the father was frequently transferred to different districts of Rajasthan. Finally he settled in Jaipur, where he was the Director of Health. Seeing his father moving from one city to another like this, the family and Rajat were of the opinion that instead of finding a government job, they should set up their own business.
The first venture in the same upheaval was that he bought 35 bighas of cultivable land on the outskirts of Jaipur for one lakh rupees. After talking to the experts of Pusa Institute, he procured high quality seeds and started experimenting with modern farming techniques. The result was as expected. The crop turned out to be very good, with the earnings of which he also bought ten cows of Holstein breed.
At the same time, he entered the industry by becoming a stockist of Larsen & Toubro and got the contract for quick repair of burnt wheels on the tracks without stopping the trains. In 1995, he married Aanchal, who decorates most of the sprawling homes in Jaipur’s Tilak Nagar with her own arts and crafts.
Realizing the shortage of glass in India, Rajat set up a glass recycling plant soon after. But during that time government policies changed and imports were banned, so instead they started manufacturing glass-based chemicals. Policies changed once again and production became very expensive for them. The result was that this budding millionaire went bankrupt in no time.
Exhausted, Rajat moved to Singapore in 1999 and got a job in a scrap trading company. From there he also provided consultancy services to Malaysian companies. After this, he set up a recycling plant in partnership in the neighboring country Sri Lanka. In 2004, he sold his stake in the venture, made a profit, paid off his debts and invested some in the East African country of Ethiopia.
By 2006, his company Gravita came out of bankruptcy. Since then he never looked back. Along with increasing his business manifold, he continued to spread it widely in other countries of Africa, Eastern Europe and Central and North America.
Gravita has one of the largest recycling plants in the world. With a capacity of 1.25 lakh tonnes, its plant is among the top half a dozen plants, while Hindustan Zinc has a production capacity of 1.85 lakh tonnes. In 2010, Rajat brought his company’s public issue, which was oversubscribed.
Rajat invests the profits from his business in new ventures recycling aluminum, paper, copper, plastics and lithium-ion batteries, apart from expanding the company’s own capacity.
You can read some facts related to Rajat as strange but true. For instance, 13 of his 2,664 employees are his batch mates. Apart from this, none of his relatives work in such a big company. His first love is traveling.
He is also deeply interested in sports, that’s why you can often see him in international championship matches with family members and some office mates. His 21-year-old daughter RV is studying in Boston, while his son Krish is 11 years old and studying in the sixth standard.
After working hard all their life, they now have to work for three hours a day, in which they do monitoring or work to build strategic teams. Most of the rest of the time is spent in social interaction. Sportsman Rajat himself owns eight cars and loves to travel off-road in his Fortuner SUV.
He recalls a time when some people used to taunt him that he wasted everything his father had earned during his bankruptcy. Actually, in the meantime, he had to sell his ancestral house mortgaged for the loan. Then he used to cry secretly in private.
Revealing his philosophy of life, he says, “I have maintained my class, given luxuries to the family, even if we had to postpone the birth of children for some time. Now we live a life of luxury with our means.” He often eats lunch with his employees and officers, to whom he has given shares at eight par value to keep their morale high for the good functioning of the company.