LUX­URY ON WHEELS

Marwar - - Contents - Text Priyanka Agar­wal

The sole dealer of Audi, Porsche, Benelli and Du­cati in the east­ern re­gion, Mo­han Mo­tor Group’s CMD, Sandip Ku­mar Ba­jaj’s dili­gence, fore­sight and three­decade ex­pe­ri­ence have turned his group into one of the city’s big­gest and mul­ti­ple award-win­ning auto deal­er­ship firms.

As the sole dealer of pre­mium au­to­mo­bile brands such as Audi, Porsche, Benelli and Du­cati, Mo­han Mo­tor Group and its chair­man cum man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Sandip Ku­mar Ba­jaj, are well-known in Kolkata’s auto cir­cles. While busi­ness and en­ter­prise are part of Ba­jaj's DNA, it is his dili­gence, fore­sight and three-decade ex­pe­ri­ence that have driven the group’s suc­cess, turn­ing it into one of the city’s big­gest and mul­ti­ple award-win­ning auto deal­er­ship firms. And that makes his story noth­ing less than in­spir­ing.

As you walk along the streets of Kolkata, pass­ing by Vic­to­rian struc­tures and its iconic yel­low cabs, if the sight of a snazzy red Porsche makes your jaw drop, there’s just one place it could have come from: Mo­han Mo­tor Group, the only of­fi­cial deal­er­ship in West Ben­gal—ac­tu­ally, the en­tire east­ern In­dia—for the high­end German sports car brand. Be­sides Porsche, the com­pany is also the sole dealer in the re­gion for four other top in­ter­na­tional brands: Audi, Benelli, Du­cati and Isuzu. In ad­di­tion, Mo­han Mo­tor Group ser­vices the mass seg­ment with Nis­san and Hyundai. If the City of Joy is get­ting a taste of wheeled lux­ury of­fered by these gi­ants, it is all thanks to the am­bi­tious vi­sion and ser­vice-ori­ented ap­proach of Sandip Ku­mar Ba­jaj, the chair­man cum man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Mo­han Mo­tor Group, for whom com­mit­ment to cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion is his life’s mis­sion.

Busi­ness in his blood

With roots in the Sikar district of Ra­jasthan, Sandip Ba­jaj’s fam­ily moved to Kolkata (then Cal­cutta) 100 years ago, when the city was Bri­tish In­dia’s al­pha city and the big­gest hub for trade and com­merce. When Sandip was born (in 1965), his fa­ther, Mo­han Lal Ba­jaj, ran a jute busi­ness. As is the usual Mar­wari prac­tice, Sandip, on turn­ing 17, joined his fa­ther in his of­fice, deftly bal­anc­ing aca­demics—he was study­ing to be a com­merce grad­u­ate—with on-the-job train­ing to some­day take over the reins of the fam­ily busi­ness.

Four years later, in 1986, right af­ter Sandip’s grad­u­a­tion from the Univer­sity of Cal­cutta, the fa­ther-son duo’s en­ter­pris­ing streak and thirst for growth made them ac­quire a petrol-pump deal­er­ship for In­dian Oil. The duo worked hard to con­sis­tently achieve growth and ex­pan­sion and grad­u­ally ex­tended their footprint to sev­eral other cities.

Tak­ing wings

In 1991, armed with a BCom de­gree, grow­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial acu­men and busi­ness con­nec­tions ac­quired from his days of ap­pren­tice­ship, Sandip Ba­jaj took to his wings to in­de­pen­dently set up an auto-fi­nanc­ing busi­ness, op­er­at­ing from a mod­est out­let in Burrabazar, a well­known com­mer­cial hub in Kolkata. “Those were times when banks weren’t very strong,” Ba­jaj says, ex­plain­ing his foray into auto fi­nanc­ing. Thanks to the ex­ist­ing de­mand­sup­ply gap, his hard work and tenac­ity, his fledg­ling busi­ness took off and kept grow­ing, tak­ing Mo­han Fi­nance Ltd, Sandip’s non-bank­ing fi­nance com­pany, to its peak over the fol­low­ing decade.

How­ever, pro­vid­ing easy auto loans wasn’t the only thing he wanted to do. “I al­ways had a pas­sion for cars, as well as a pas­sion for cre­at­ing cus­tomers,” he adds. Real­is­ing that the auto-fi­nanc­ing busi­ness had en­dowed him with suf­fi­cient ex­pe­ri­ence and am­ple con­tacts, he ven­tured into the sec­ond-hand-cars busi­ness in 2000. “In a year’s time, we be­came the high­est sell­ing used­car dealer in West Ben­gal,” says Ba­jaj, cred­it­ing the huge achieve­ment to his in­sis­tence on di­rectly han­dling op­er­a­tions and meet­ing cus­tomers, which ac­tu­ally helped him get a sense of the mar­ket.

From used cars, the next stop was deal­er­ship for new ve­hi­cles. The first brand to be roped in by the un­tir­ing en­trepreneur was Fiat, in 2002. This was fol­lowed by a deal­er­ship for Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra the same year, which soon “ranked top for cus­tomer ser­vice”. Two years later, Mo­han Mo­tor Group bagged a Maruti deal­er­ship, and, ku­dos to Sandip Ba­jaj’s ef­forts, went on to be­come the “high­est sell­ing Maruti dealer”. It sent the group’s turnover “tre­bling in the next five years”.

The Audi con­nec­tion

Mo­han Mo­tor Group’s land­mark mo­ment, how­ever, came in 2009, when German lux­ury car man­u­fac­turer Audi ap­pointed it as part of its In­dia deal­er­ship net­work. Just like an Audi, the group’s show­room for the lux­ury mo­tor brand, too was a lav­ish af­fair, where no stone was

With our dif­fer­ent brands, we en­sure that we do­nate ev­ery quar­ter on be­half of our busi­ness. "

left un­turned to bowl over cus­tomers and vis­i­tors. A swank fleet of Audis brought in the rest of the drama. The show­room, in­ci­den­tally, also has a work­shop for ser­vic­ing Audi mod­els.

In 2012, Mo­han Mo­tor Group inked a deal with Porsche, ush­er­ing the au­tomaker’s sleek sports cars into East­ern In­dia through one of the most ex­pen­sive show­rooms in the re­gion. In 2014, mass brands Hyundai and Nis­san also came on board. The group si­mul­ta­ne­ously opened a 3S (sales, ser­vice, spares) Audi show­room in Ranchi. Us­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise ac­quired from his used-car ven­ture, Sandip Ba­jaj then pro­ceeded to launch an ‘Audi Ap­proved Plus’ fa­cil­ity in Kolkata’s Ali­pore neigh­bour­hood in 2015 to re­tail sec­ond-hand cars.

Soon, more brands joined hands with Mo­han Mo­tor Group. Among them were Ital­ian su­per­bike maker DSK Benelli, Ja­panese com­mer­cial-ve­hi­cle spe­cial­ist Isuzu and Ital­ian mo­tor­cy­cle pow­er­house Du­cati. The group also opened a 3S Benelli fa­cil­ity in Silig­uri in 2016.

As the num­ber of brands in­creased so did Mo­han Mo­tor’s turnover, which touched the R648 crore mark for the fi­nan­cial year 2016–17. Spurred by this un­flag­ging growth tra­jec­tory, the group now aims to sell one lakh ve­hi­cles by the year 2020—up from the nearly 62,000 units sold in 2017. The group has also been con­ferred with many hon­ours along the jour­ney, in­clud­ing the “high­est sell­ing dealer” ti­tle for Benelli within the very first year of the brand join­ing hands with Mo­han Mo­tor Group .

“Cur­rently, we have 55 cus­tomer-fac­ing lo­ca­tions and 1,000 em­ploy­ees, and we are look­ing at mul­ti­ply­ing the same by 2021,” says Ba­jaj. Up­beat about the group’s

suc­cess, he as­sures of many more in­ter­na­tional brands mak­ing their way to Mo­han Mo­tor Group, with­out re­veal­ing the names.

Be­yond the show­room

Be­sides en­ter­prise, the Ba­jaj fam­ily is also known for phi­lan­thropy. While Mo­han Lal had been ac­tively in­volved in char­i­ta­ble works aimed at up­lift­ing un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren and marginalised sec­tions of so­ci­ety, Sandip Ba­jaj even over­sees the dis­patch of com­pany aid to blind­school stu­dents, as well as poor pupils in Ra­jasthan. “With our dif­fer­ent brands, we en­sure that we do­nate ev­ery quar­ter on be­half of our busi­ness,” Ba­jaj adds. The group makes con­tri­bu­tions to Kolkata Gives, a plat­form that con­nects donors to cred­i­ble NGOs and Ro­tary Club and plans ‘Do­nate & Drive’ events with cus­tomers on a quar­terly ba­sis. Plus, Mo­han Mo­tor Group works to­wards con­struc­tion of gausha­las through a special ini­tia­tive. Sandip Ba­jaj is also as­so­ci­ated with the Indo-German Cham­ber of Com­merce and the Ben­gal Cham­ber of Com­merce & In­dus­try and or­gan­ises sev­eral events in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the gov­ern­ment to pro­mote skilled labour.

On the fam­ily front, apart from his fa­ther, Sandip Ba­jaj also draws sup­port from his wife, who, he says, has been an in­te­gral part of his pro­fes­sional growth.

The future

Fol­low­ing in his fa­ther’s foot­steps, in 2014, Sandip Ba­jaj’s son, Gau­rav, who is 27 now, stepped in to aug­ment the fam­ily busi­ness, as a di­rec­tor of Mo­han Mo­tor Group. Given the syn­ergy this has cre­ated and the speed with which things are mov­ing for the group, the day isn’t far when a new se­ries of pre­mium, flashy, jaw-drop­ping brands will amaze on­look­ers on the streets of Kolkata. Per­haps it’d be a Bent­ley, or maybe a Lexus. What­ever be it, we’ll let Ba­jaj un­veil the goods in style.

Top: Sandip Ku­mar Ba­jaj

From top: The Porsche show­room in Kolkata; The Du­cati show­room in Kolkata

From top: (L-R) Sr­ishti Ba­jaj (wife of Gau­rav Ba­jaj), Preeti Ba­jaj (wife of Sandip Ba­jaj), Sandip Ba­jaj, Gau­rav Ba­jaj; Mo­han Mo­tor's DSK Benelli show­room in Silig­uri

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