Nilesh Prajapati has overcome seemingly insurmountable odds in his journey through life. Struck by polio at the age of twelve, he never allowed it to weaken his spirit or resolve. Mr. Prajapati always had the entrepreneurial spirit and always wanted to do something that would help him and others to establish themselves.
From a humble beginning as a Logistic Executive at the Asian Granito India Ltd. Nilesh Prajapati rose swiftly through the ranks, and is now one of the top retailers of the brand. Multiple awards of top performer marked his professional journey. Sandeep Lathhwal of BMR had a freewheeling chat with Nilesh Prajapati on a range of issues.
Nilesh Prajapati hails from a small village, Dobhad, situated in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat. Prajapati completed his education, right from his school days to his post graduation from his village. In 1977 he was struck by polio. Undeterred he went on to complete his post graduation and started off his professional life, working in various capacities in several jobs. In 2004 he joined the Asian Granito India Ltd. As a Logistic Executive. In 2010 he quit his job to open retail chain of Asian Granito India Ltd. In Himatnagar, Udaipur and Anand. He named it AGL Ceramic World.
Nilesh Prajapati never let his disability rein in his desire to succeed. In 2012 AGL Ceramic World established its footprint in Ahmedabad. Recollecting his initial days of struggle as an entrepreneur, Mr. Prajapati recollected his first foray into the retail segment from a 3500sq ft space in Himatnagar. He remembered how he drove all the way to Mount Abu to pursue a project. Mr. Prajapati told us how he loves his job, which involves odd hours and a good amount of travelling. He says that he would choose his job over any other assignment.
He recollected how AGL had stood solidly by him through thick and thin. Mr. Prajapati said that besides his own professional growth the thought of providing for others, generating income for others drives him forward. He fondly recollected the time when he, along with his business partner, Babubhai and another associate was discussing their childhood banters together and how it led the foundation of entrepreneurship.
On being asked why he choose single brand retail, over a multi-brand setup, Nilesh Prajapati said that it his way of repaying the trust, support and love AGL has showered him with. In a time of falling market revenues and dropping sales, Mr. Prajapati spoke about brand loyalty in a way that is very rare these days and a trait that puts emphasis on taking customer relationship to an entirely different level. He explained how AGL offers a wide array of choices for products and is a one stop shop for all related customer needs. Working with a single brand ensures buyer focus and quality of service.
Nilesh Prajapati said that AGL was among the top three brands in its segment with a wide ranging product portfolio in kitchen, floorings, bath and sanitary fittings and accessories.
Speaking about the tough Covid-19 induced lock down, Mr. Prajapati recollected how they had gone back to their village as the lock down started and returned only after a couple of months. It was a tough time for business, but Mr. Prajapati ensured that the team remain relatively insulated from hardships and he recollected how AGL supported him, in turn to get through the pandemic induced hardships.
When the lock down was lifted in phases, normalcy returned slowly. Mr. Prajapati explained how close cooperation enabled everyone to get through tough times and how business has picked up.
Speaking about the market in Ahmedabad, Nilesh Prajapati said that there is a glut of projects in the government sector, both the state government as well as the central government. Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modis vision of a house for all, Nilesh Prajapati spoke of how the PM Awas scheme is bringing in boom in the affordable real estate sector. Mr. Prajapati said that infrastructure sector has received a fillip as hospitals are coming up under the Arogya scheme.
Nilesh Prajapati was confident of resurgence in the economy and apart from the government sector, the private sector is investing big, in projects like Gandhinagar Gift City, BSE, SBI, IT Hub. Mr. Prajapati said that architects and interior designers formed another cornerstone for AGL and its ever expanding product portfolio.
Nilesh Prajapati explained the importance of a sprawling retail space to display wide range of products as a crucial factor for the business model (retail business). A house being a dream-home for most, attention is paid to the minutest details.
Speaking on design trends Mr. Prajapati said that tiles are dominating the market because of its flexibility, strength and cost factor. The company ensures that design specifications are in accordance with the latest international trends and designs.
Mr. Prajapati stressed on complete customer satisfaction in service oriented products like bath and sanitary fittings.
When Sandeep Lathhwal asked him about the emerging trend of companies venturing into direct retail with their own chain of outlets and how it would affect business in general, Nilesh Prajapati explained how AGL maintains a complete inventory of its clients and ensured equitable distribution of business. He was confident that such trends pose little threat to existing business models.
Speaking about development in suburban and rural areas, Mr. Prajapati explained how the rural hinterland is seeing growth. He said that easier access to education has led to greater employment and this has triggered growth outside the domain of big cities. Mr. Prajapati explained how Prime Minister Modis vision has ensured growth reaching the rural hinterland of the country.
Offering encouragement for budding entrepreneurs, Prajapati emphasized on the need for complete honesty with clients. Absolute transparency with clients and other stakeholders are imperative in turning business reputation to relationship. Mr. Prajapati wound up by stressing on the need to ensure customer satisfaction through transparency, innovation and honesty.
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