Interview with Mr. Ramesh Kumar Mutha, Managing Director, Mohan Mutha Exports Pvt. Ltd.

What makes Mohan Mutha Exports one of the leading export companies in India? Exports one of the

We understand that in this dynamic business world one needs to take decisions with immediate propulsion to stay ahead of the crowd. Being open minded to identify & tap business opportunities at the right time, is the key to stay ahead in this fast evolving global market. Mohan Mutha Exports has always kept its eyes open to identify emerging business opportunities. We have kept ourselves abreast, keenly watching for ripe business opportunities. We have stayed ahead, taking the right business decisions at the right time.

We also understand that customer service is the key to long term business relationships. In the quest to serve our customers better, we have always taken due care, thereby ensuring to supply the best quality products at the right time. We foresee that a qualitative, punctual & cost effective approach in supplying goods means better business – not just for the company, but also for its customers.

The success of any company involved in international trade is largely dependent on the capability & effectiveness of their logistic support & shipping services. The solution to the forward & backward integration with logistic & shipping problems should be operative, efficient, reliable and above all meet with client’s requirement. MM Exports, with its wide scale of services, initiated effective measures to address these issues at the right time.

Mohan Mutha Exports introduced its own Shipping / Chartering company under the name of Mohan Mutha Translogistics Pvt. Ltd., to cater its client requirements. As there is no involvement of external agents, the company is capable of promptly meetingits delivery deadlines, to the utmost satisfaction of its clients, with cost-effective measures. Being a proud owner of a fleet of General Cargo Ships, Towing Tugs & Barges, the company deals with bulk open cargo, supported by an efficient team expertized in shipping and custom clearance activities. We thereby established ourselves as a reliable, trustworthy business partner in the multi-national merchant trading business.

Though the Forte of Mohan Mutha Exports lies in exporting major construction/infrastructure raw material products, equipment and accessories, as an initiative to expand its business this merchant export house has also ventured into & expertized itself in export of other products such as food commodities, Pharmaceuticals & Medical equipment, Apparels & Textiles, Automobiles and much more.

For years, we are specialized in the sourcing of infrastructure raw material products. Taking this service a step forward, we have now enabled ourselves to provide complete turnkey solutions for civil construction projects world-wide.

We believe that every employee and business partner has something to contribute to the organization. This view helps us to build & lead a motivated workforce in the right direction.

Growing up, you wanted to become an Indian Administrative Service officer. What made you join the family business?

Mohan Mutha Exports is the ultimate brainchild of My father, Shri Mohan Lal Mutha. He built the company from scratch, relinquishing the status that it bears today. His ancestors were revenue collectors during the colonial rule, and just before independence, Shri Mohan Lal Mutha moved from his home town Mandala, Rajasthan to Madras (Chennai), the flourishing port city of southern India.

Needless to say, he is the creator of such a beautiful firm which set the most satisfying and blissful journey for his off springs! to cherish & derive from.He had established this company as a General merchant. In 1972, Mr. Hansraj Mutha, my elder brother entered this family business. He stood strong, up-lifting the company as he grew further in his business ventures, overcoming all the hurdles in his path. A brave & hard workingperson that he is, he stepped his footsteps into Mohan Mutha Exports to enlarge the family business by import of stainless steel and Olive oil from Spain. One fitting example for his successful business endeavors is, when he did not fail to overcome the import restrictions with his knack in business and the strong network of international contacts that he built, which he can boast about for decades to come. His passion, fervor, deep commitment has driven Mohan Mutha Exports to where it is now and has helped the company move on from a traditional set up to a corporate one.

After my graduation, my dream was to serve our country by writing the UPSE exams & becoming an Indian Administrative Service Officer. I had given preliminary exams, but I couldn’t concentrate. The family & social environment pushed me into business after my graduation. My family wanted me to become an industrialist. As export is a challenging job our family was into import business, for which they used to buy REP license from exporters, with exporter’s name mentioned on it. It became my dream to see our company name appearing on this license as an exporter. Incidentally while I was visiting State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (SIPCOT) office, next door I noticed & visited the offices of Handloom Export Promotion Council and Plastic & Linoleum Export Promotion Council and the PRO had injected courageous & positive thoughts to become exporters. From here we started our journey as exporters. Exports had been considered as one of the most admiring & valued business ventures. With the expertise of the international trading business deep rooted in our family tradition, it motivated me to venture myself in this line of business. I also viewed this as an opportunity to serve my nation by promoting & supplying Indian products in foreign market, thereby adding value to our economic development. At that time many incentives from Government of India like CCS, Export Duty drawback, Status of star export house benefit, etc. helped me to elevate our company. That was the time we diversified ourselves &redirected Mohan Mutha Exports Pvt Ltd from just imports to venturing ourselves into the exports business.

Exploring our way to find the right direction, we registered ourselves with various foreign embassies & export-import councils. We explored the global market & established contacts with various importers worldwide. We started our export business from supply of T shirts, fabrics and rice to France.

Mr. Suresh Mutha, my younger brother, leads the complete logistics network and being the Executive Director of Mohan Mutha Exports, he has been arming the company and creating umpteen opportunities since 1990. He is also head projects for development of residential projects in India.

With the involvement of our 3rd generation, young and enthusiastic directors in company operations. Mr. Praful Mutha is leading the project team for Infrastructure development activities.

The Mohan Mutha group has been a successful venture in the Maldives, please tell us about your journey in the country?

Mohan Mutha’s Journey in Maldives started in 1985, when we received repeated requests from Mr. DIK Maldives, supplier of Red corel and Cori to supply ‘Lungi’ to Maldives. We visited Maldives for the first time with Lungi samples. After successfully filtering good manufacturers we made our first supply of Lungis to Maldives. That was the turning point for Mohan Mutha Exports. With new hope arisen & with a vision to expand our business, we frequently visited Maldives and completely studied &understood the market requirement. We put our best foot forward, carrying India’s own manufactured product samples, directly visiting the customers and convincing them. Initially we entered the Maldivian market with supply of Lungis from India. We have further ventured & taken this forward to supply of FMCG products. We put forward ourselves as a successful supplier of bed sheets, agro commodities, fresh vegetables, sanitary fittings, Usha Ceiling Fan, Kelvinator Fridges, Nescafe products, Dabur Cosmetics, P&G products etc.

In the history of Indo-Maldivian business relationship, Mohan Mutha Exports was the first organization to successfully procure & export deform bars from Tata, binding wires, structural PVC pipes, steel pipes, fastners from various rolling mills, Switch gears, electrical fittings from Indian manufacturers, machine, tools like lathes, honing, boring, Suguna Pumps, textile from Tirupur, Coimbatore and Madurai. We have exported Aluminium and stainless steel utensils, Plastic molded goods, Ceramic tiles, Tyres, Tubes, Bicycles from National Bicycle corporation, JK files from JK group. Plastic house hold cello, Sumeet mixer grinders, Jute bags from Kolkatta, complete range of marbles, granites, stand stones, syntax water tanks, GI pipes, PVC Pipes, Deform bars, Parle products, Confectionery items and readymade garments.

In our journey we have supplied building materials, at a time when there was no organized shipping lines to Maldives. We were the first from India to fix chartered vessels for Project cargo to Maldives for UNITOR a Swedish company who was doing storage project in Mandhoo Island. As a milestone achievement Mohan Mutha Exports introduced its own Shipping / Chartering company with a fleet of its own General Cargo Ships, Towing Tugs & Barges. This initiative, helped us to put our customer ahead & support our vision of becoming the most reliable turnkey supply partner to our customers. We added more products like aggregates, sand, pipe & we successfully transformed ourselves into a one-roof supply partner for infrastructure projects. Since, then we are now supplying to various turnkey projects in the construction industry. Maldives customers have acknowledged MM Exports as a reputed turnkey supplier and logistics partner.

In our journey we have also involved ourselves in supply of bulk cargo for Tsunami relief projects at Maldives. UNICEF, Red Cross, UNDP, UNOPS, JAICA, IFRC, British red cross invited us and we successfully supplied products worth millions of dollars. We successfully supplied 15,000 rain water harvesting kits for IFRC in record time promptly.

This way MM Exports played an important role in transforming the Indo-Maldivian relationship from export of individual conventional products to being a one-roof supplier & logistic partner for turnkey infrastructure projects.

Director Mr. Tejraj Jain with the strong support of his team members Mr. Kamalesh & Mr. Vikas ensured to continue & build a strong hold on the Maldivian Market. Likeways, Mr. Sacheen Shroff Director of Translogistics division helped to build & strengthen the logistics segment.

Export Business is a challenging profile, especially in the 1980. What made you enter the domain being aware of the fact that the Maldives market was dominated by China, Thailand and Singapore?

In the 1980s, with all the global giants already holding a strong grip over the Maldivian market, penetrating into the market & finding our place for our various range of products was a challenging job. Maldives usually used to import rice from Myanmar, sugar from Europe & wheat flour from UK. We initiated our attempt to penetrate the market from supply of rice. After vigorous follow-up & persistent efforts, we somehow finally succeeded in convincing the Maldivian importers about the quality of rice from India & we proposed them to place the first order on trial basis (Minimum Metric Tons Order)

& we gave them the privilege to pay for it after testing the quality of the material supplied. Successfully we maintained best quality at a competitive price with prompt delivery. After that they have completely diversified the complete requirement to us. That was the breaking point and mile stone to find a strong place for Indian products in the Maldivian market. We used the same strategy of trial orders for wheat flour and Sugar& we established a strong place in the Maldivian market.

PVC pipe was usually imported from Far East countries as per JIS standard. With our extensively diversified service, we made mould as per JIS standard & we successfully started supplying these products from India.

We have competed with Chinese double bull brand T Shirts & we replaced the same with Thirupur T shirts, Scarfs, Towels, etc. by giving better price, quality & prompt shipment. We introduced quality hardware, fasteners, steel furniture, switchgears, electrical, pipe & fittings, appliances, cosmetics, toiletries, etc.

In the 1980s, when TAJ hotel was built by L&T at Maldives, we were the major supplier of construction materials for the project. With our self-owned fleet of big cargo vessels, tugs, barges & our extensive trans-logistic setup, we were able to support the major project with ease & perfection. The strong network chain that we built over decades helped us to cater the need of the project.

In this way we paved our way into the Maldivian market from supply of conventional product to supply of material for turnkey infrastructure projects.

What are the key projects for the Mohan Mutha group in the pipeline?

We take pride in successfully completinga 40 Million USD, road project in Maldives funded by EXIM bank of India. We have also successfully executed the coastal protection revetment work project at Hulhumale, Hulhumale Local market and food court projects & project for provision of RO plant and storage tanks.

In pipeline we look forward to the project of road development work in Phase I & Phase II at Hulhumale, water sewerage projects & much more.

Do you think Mohan Mutha Exports opened Opportunities for other Indian Players to invest in the Maldives?

We have established ourselves as pioneers in introducing various products of Indian origin to the Maldivian market. We built ourselves to creating 250 active customer base for our company. Many are still doing business with us for over three decades. The confidence & integrity that we built in the mind of our customers towards Indian products, paved way for multiple Indian players to explore further growth opportunities there. More than the products, many of the Indian exporters followed path & found their way into the Maldivian market. I can say, what we have built over generations of efforts is not just successful business, Indeed it is the successful customer relationship & the confidence that we built over decades that makes us stand where we are now. Now with the 3rd generation of directors entering the Mohan Mutha Group business, we still share the same rapport with the Maldivian business community.

We have also diversified & extended our reach, by taking up turnkey infrastructure projects in Maldives on Joint Venture basis with other Indian based companies, who hold strong experience on construction/infrastructure front. We have successfully executed such JV projects & paved way for Indian companies to execute more such projects. We have some projects in pipeline as well, where we have signed MOU with Indian based strong players with expertise in diversified business segments. This business strategy enables us to make ourselves capable of exploring & venturing into multiple business segments, thereby expanding our business.

What are the major trade opportunities still to be explored between India and Maldives?

For any international market we can never limit the opportunities by declaring just a few of them as prospects. The close bond of cooperation and friendship that the two countries share today, has been built over decades of persistent efforts. Indo – Maldivian bilateral relationship is built on the strong principle pillars of trust, transparency, integrity, mutual understanding and sensitivity. The further strengthening of bilateral ties between India and Maldives is bound to open doors for new mutually benefiting business platforms & as our history per says, we would definitely look forward to exploring ourselves into further unexplored business segments in Maldives. So, there are many upcoming requirement and opportunities for our mutual economic growth. We foresee various infrastructure projects upcoming in Maldives.

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