With one truck in 1976, he now owns more than 4500 vehicles in India!
Have you seen this man? This 67 years old man is none other than Dr. Vijay Sankeshwar, the chairman and the Managing Director of VRL Logistics Ltd.! I recently came across his profile and became a fan of his courage and hard work. Also, thought it would be a motivation for others, if I share whatever little I know about him.
Who is he?
Dr. Vijay Sankeshwar was born on 2 August 1950 in Gadag, part of North Karnataka in India. His father was running a printing and publishing firm called B G Sankeshwar & Co. They were the publishing house for DK Bharadwaj Kannada dictionary, books and guides. This printing press is now being managed by Vijay Sankeshwar’s brothers with five to six lakh copies of books every year.
At the age of 16, his father gifted him this printing press which has one printing machine and two employees. He was expecting Vijay Sankeshwar to get into the family business and settle down. However, his father was not aware of Vijay Sankeshwar’s goal for life.
“My father was not happy sending me to the college. He wanted me to join the printing business and manage it” says Vijay Sankeshwar.
His first business:
In 1976, he started a transport business with one truck investing 1.2 lakh of borrowed fund. This was one of the biggest risk he has taken in his life. As expected, he had to face many challenges and failures which led his family to force him to come back to the family business. “I took a big risk. It was tough trying my luck in this unknown sector. I suffered severe losses. My parents and wife wanted me to return to the family business” says Sankeshwar recalling his challenges. He also faced resistance from people who were already into the transport business. Probably, it was because they faced severe challenge in that sector or they are not happy new comer entering into the transport business.
Vijay Sankeshwar was well aware of these risks. He says, “With no communication access to reach the drivers once they hit the road, I had no clue when the cargo would reach the customer, till the trucks came back safe. Handling drivers was not easy. I suffered severe losses and frequent accidents of vehicles. Not deterred by these setbacks, I worked hard to reach my goal”.
“Deeply hurt with my decision and fearing my family’s future, my father came to Hubli (where he started the transport business), met my landlord and gave him a post card with his address written on it. He informed the landlord that if I failed to pay the rent of Rs.600 for two consecutive months, the landlord should write to him and he would come, clear the dues, and take me back with him. To my luck, I never missed paying the rent”, says Dr. Sankeshwar with tears filled in his eyes.
There is a famous saying, “there is no alternative for hard work” and Dr. Sankeshwar was a strong believer of hard work. In addition to the two trucks he owned, he hired more trucks and changed his business center from Hubli to Gadag. In 1992, he started a courier business in Karnataka. At that time he had more than 120 vehicles with turnover of around 4 crores. In 1996, he started the passenger bus operations with 4 buses between Bangalore and Hubli.
Simultaneously, he entered into the media business with the Kannada Daily “Vijaya Karnataka” in 1999 which was sold to Times Group in 2006. After, five years gap, he again started the Kannada Daily “Vijayavani” which is now the leading newspaper in Karnataka. Recently, he has started a news channel “Digvijaya 24X7” from Bangalore (Bengaluru).
VRL Group now:
1990s was the year of business expansion for VRL Logistics and Vijayananda Roadlines. He kept on expanding his business in the areas of transportation, passenger bus, media etc. Finally, Dr. Sankeshwar could feel the huge success when VRL Logistics listed in National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) in April 2015.
He is the proud owner of VRL Group, running his business with Anand Sankeshwar (son), the MD of the group now. It was a big success story when turned back into the past. With nearly 20,000 employees VRL group now has conglomerate business model consisting transportation, passenger buses, wind mill, media house etc. Building business with 2 lakh turnover in 1976 to nearly 1800 crores turnover was never an easy task. All that worked for Dr. Sankeshwar was his determination, long term goal and hard work.
Reward and Recognition:
Recipient of multiple awards like, Udyog ratna, Aryabhatta Award, The transport samrat award etc. Dr. Vijay Sankeshwar was conferred with an honorary Doctorate by Karnataka University, Dharwad in 2014.
Many times we give up our plans or dreams thinking about challenges. We don’t even want to start working towards our goals and we always get many reasons to do so. But, do we ever think, who is going to lose the benefit of success? It’s “WE” and no one else. It’s always good to listen to others, but listen to them only if their advise helps you to grow.