Avinash Gupta isn’t really a risk taker. He’s conservative and cautious. But back in the 1950s, he took the first of two, life-changing bold decisions — on graduation, the young Gupta opted out of joining his family’s air-conditioning services business in Ludhiana and instead, moved to Bombay to work for infra major Gannon Dunkerley. “I was clear I wanted to work for a few years in a company before starting my own business,” recalls Gupta, now a sprightly 72 years.
More than a decade later, in 1971, Gupta took his second bold decision — he quit, borrowed ₹20,000 from his father-in-law and started Technofab Engineering, operating out of his father-in-law’s home in south Delhi. “I don’t remember if I ever returned the money,” he laughs. If he had offered a stake in the company in lieu of the loan, Gupta’s father-in-law would have been a happy man, indeed. In the past five years, Technofab has grown at an average 36%, from ₹81 crore in FY08 to ₹377 crore in FY12 (and ₹287 crore in the first nine months of FY13). Profits, too, have grown more than six times in the same period, from ₹5.3 crore in FY08 to ₹34 crore in FY12 and ₹19 crore in April-December 2012. All of which has led Technofab to become one of the fastest-growing companies in India.
When Gupta set up Technofab, he was very clear (thanks to his experience with Gannon) what his field of specialisation would be: mechanical construction, which involves building systems and machines at industrial plants. “Those were heady days of public sector and Planning Commission-driven projects. Many new industrial projects were coming up, requiring both civil and mechanical contractors,” he says. There weren’t too many of the latter around and, as a result, Technofab was a profitable company from the start.
But given the field, the company ended up only doing the hard labour part of any job — most material for construction was imported and customers wanted contractors to merely supply labour. By 1979, Technofab switched from being a labour contractor to an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, serving the power, industr