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One man who has closely seen the success of India’s auto sector is former IAS officer turned corporate manager turned entrepreneur Jagdish Khattar. Providing complete car solutions is what Jagdish Khattar wanted which led him to start Carnation Auto. Today it has become one of India’s largest auto retail brands. Bureaucrat turned corporate chieftain turned entrepreneur Jagdish Khattar aims to set up 200 Carnation Auto centres across the country, from the present 25, within the next four years.
“I started with a small team of passionate individuals. We were bound by a common belief and vision. The same team members are with me till date and are responsible for key departments or important functions”, says Jagdish Khattar, founder and chairman, Carnation Auto.
Khattar completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and his LLB from Delhi University. A bureaucrat for 28 years, Khattar was a 1965 batch UP cadre officer and served as the MD of state governments, UPSIDC and UP State Cement Corporation among other posts. He belonged to a family of entrepreneurs who had set up an electricity generation and supply company in Dera Ismail Khan (now in Pakistan) before Partition.
He embarked on a corporate career with Maruti Udyog Ltd after resigning from the civil services in 1993 and served as the CEO and Managing Director at Maruti Udyog from 1993 to 2007. During those days he used to visit a lot of dealers and interact with customers to understand their needs and the aspirations of the discerning Indian car owners. “One of the observations was that customers were looking for a quality alternative to their authorized dealerships. Back then a car owner could either go to an authorized dealership or to a neighbourhood workshop. I saw an opportunity here and translated this insight into the vision on which Carnation is established” explains Khattar.
On 30 Sep 2008, Mr. Jagdish Khattar announced his next venture – Carnation Auto, with a vision of developing a multi-brand automobile sales and service network. Today, Carnation has 24 auto solution hubs across India and has covered 16 cities. It now witnesses a footfall of 20,000 a month and has delivered more than 4, 00,000 cars so far. It has as well successfully launched several verticals like workshop on wheels, pre-owned cars, accessories, etc. His achievements got him awards like CNBC Auto Car – Man of the Year 2008 & NDTV Profit- Auto Man of the Year 2008.
However, the journey hasn’t been all that rosy. The major challenge that the venture faced was that it was one of its kind with no competitors who offered similar services. There were no benchmarks in the industry with which it could compare its performance. But they didn’t damage the team’s spirit; instead the team created its own targets and strived to better them continuously. Carnation Auto has been drawing increasing number of customers, due to its transparency, cost efficiency and better services.
When asked about the scope of success of any entrepreneurship in our country, Mr. Khattar said, “It is difficult for start-ups to thrive in an environment where it had no governmental support in terms of policy and with little or poor infrastructure. Although some sectors, particularly information technology, have spawned entrepreneurship without any help from the government but that model cannot be replicated in manufacturing.”
He added, “Manufacturing has to depend on the government for facilities whereas IT does well because the government has no role to play in it. Infrastructure will vary from industry to industry and for some sectors it can be critical.”
He feels that the need for such a concept existed in the market, recognizing it and providing a solution to the customer helped them reach the level where they are at today.
I, personally feel that he is the source of inspiration, for all those who want to learn how to cement themselves in this world of competition. You must find the correct service or product which has scope to develop in market and working for which enthuse you. If you are interested to start your own business, to sell some new kind of product or service in the market, always try to think out of the box. Try to do something new. Be innovative. It has two benefits, one, you will never lose interest in your work because it is solely your idea and you will always have the liberty to develop it in your style plus you can use your creativity to expand your enterprise. Secondly, it involves lesser competition if your service/product is one of its kind, hence more growth!
Only because of this innovativeness, Carnation became such a large company in a time of just 3 years.