Tucked away in a small lane in the Mumbai suburb of Andheri, the Pidilite office is simple and transports you back to the early 90s. Large sofa sets and leisurely shutting elevators visibly conceal the power of a Rs.6,062 crore company and the success of its key brands such as Fevicol, Fevistik and M-Seal. That said, the sprawling campus does have a few new buildings, a swimming pool and a large cafeteria. The contemporary structures signify that at Pidilite, the past and the present exist in harmony.
At the helm of the company – and its transition – is Madhukar Parekh, the 70-year-old executive chairman of Pidilite that was founded in 1954 by his late father, Balvant Parekh. It has been ten years since Parekh embarked on a professionalisation drive at Pidilite bringing in outsiders to prepare the company for its next phase. This strategy resulted in Parekh stepping down in 2015 as managing director, to make way for Bharat Puri, an India Inc veteran with over 30 years of experience across companies such as Asian Paints and Cadbury. With a professional at the helm, will Pidilite better its growth as a family-run enterprise?
Pidilite started off by manufacturing synthetic glue and pigments for the textile industry. As a pioneer in both these product categories, Pidilite never wanted to be a me-too company. “That meant we were always on the lookout for opportunities and we placed a lot of emphasis on R&D,” Parekh says. He has been working at Pidilite ever since he returned with a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1971).
Although their focus was on innovation, the understated company needed to create a brand for itself. It started off with direct marketing campaigns for Fevicol, targeting carpenters –who were unaware of the brand – with initiatives like Fevicraft, a bimonthly magazine for carpenters. “These were pioneering ideas for the time and even FMCG companies did not have anything on the lines of Fevicraft, which gave furniture designs to carpentry contractors,”