India’s Most Trusted CEO 2018 – Avanti Feeds: Alluri Indra Kumar
The Masters of Manufacturing: Shrimp Feed, Processing and export of Shrimps
What is the big idea behind your business?
I was managing 100% EOU Srinivasa Cystine Limited, a family enterprise, which was
manufacturing L-Cystine amino acid from human hair since 1986.
It was in 1991-92 when Government of India started promoting Shrimp culture in
coastal regions, I saw the long term business opportunity. The salient characteristics
of shrimp culture activity that attracted me were that the produced shrimps were
exported to US, Japan & EU, shrimp culture is done on idle land of the coastal
regions with saline water and it is creating rural employment. The challenge in shrimp
culture is that, shrimp needs well balanced nutritious feed which suits to regional water
and soil conditions and farmer needs timely advise them on growth issues and to
prevent diseases. During that time shrimp feed was being imported and I was
convinced that with a focused approach, we will be able to give better feed to farmers
than the imported ones. Thus, the idea to start a scientifically formulated shrimp feed
manufacturing plant born and Avanti Feeds Limited was established in 1993 for the
purpose. Our first shrimp feed manufacturing plant became operational in November
1994, with 10,000 M.T capacity and now we reached 6,00,000 M.T per annum.
It’s often said that leaders these days must operate in an environment of
extreme volatility. Do you agree? How does that affect the way you lead?
It’s true that the business environment has become too volatile. In this environment
one has to take decisions quickly according to the changing circumstances and
implement them effectively in a short period of time. For this we placed people who
are good team players with solution oriented and proactive approach as functional
heads.Also, we started grooming 2nd and 3rd level hierarchy and keeping them informed of the developments. This helped us getting very good inputs and suggestions for improvements from the team and course corrections are done quickly.
Due to this my role changed to strategic planning, implementation monitoring and
most importantly a lot of communication with teams at all levels.
A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all. What is your prime
focus for retaining customers?
A customer is satisfied when we create value and prosperity him. To achieve this
Quality, service and continues product development are the key.
Our endeavour is to give best quality feed to the farmers which will give them lowest
FCR (Feed Conversion Ratio) in different regions with different soil and water
conditions. To achieve the feed variations to suit to different water and soil conditions
we have a product development team which does continues trails of new formulations.
For providing technical advice from pond preparation stage till harvest, we have a
team of around 250 BSc and MSc Fisheries graduates. The members of this team visit
farmers at frequent intervals, monitor the progress of the culture and advise on crop
management.The quality of feed and technical support we provide makes us first choice of the farmers and retain our customers.
What was your first paying job?
After completing the graduation in Chemical Engineering, I joined Srinivasa Cystine
Limited in 1986. Srinivasa Cystine Limited was an EOU, started by my father Late Sri
Venkateswara Rao for manufacturing of L-Cystine, an amino acid extracted from
human hair. The development of a network across length and breadth of country for collection of human hair from barber shops, doubling the capacity of the plant and achieving high quality standards for L-cystine were most satisfying, which has paid of well.
Do you have a formal mechanism for making sure you stay in touch with
employees and customers on the organisation’s front line?
I know almost all the employees till supervisory level of the Company by their names. I
make it a point to visit shop floor at regular intervals and interact with staff right at their work place. This gives me firsthand knowledge and also keeps me in touch with work force and keeps them motivated. I visit ponds and shrimp farmers at their to get feedback on the performance of the feed. As such, I know most of the farmers who are doing shrimp culture since then, I’m in regular touch with the key farmers and dealers visiting them at their farms and shops and they also visit my office to exchange the new developments in the field. This keeps me informed of the developments and keeps me in touch with the people who are vital for success of the organization and the industry.
What is the best business advice you’ve ever heard?
My father told me when I joined Srinivasa Cystine that “Always Have a Vision, Be True
to self, Work Hard – Lead from Front and Ensure that all Stakeholders are benefited
from the enterprise.” Whole of my team follow these principles in all our actions.
What has surprised you about being an entrepreneur?
Being in the field for more than 3 decades, I don’t feel surprised any more. However,
one thing bothers me is the quality of education our youth are getting in the colleges
and universities. The employable skills are very low. Their zeal to work hard and go
beyond the task to learn more, broaden their knowledge is missing in most.
What strategies do you use in terms of planning your personal career
My strategies in my development is to develop people and teams. Once our people
develop to achieve the targets and take up higher responsibilities and position it
should be easier for me to look into the new ventures.
Your Favourite Book or Quote of all time?
Good to Great, by Jim Collins