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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Inspiring story of Balvant Parekh who became India’s Fevicol man from a peon

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Balvant Parekh, who is known as India’s Fevicol man, had been  a freedom fighter, trader,  and even a peon. He was the founder of Pidilite Industries.

In India, fevicol is synonymous with adhesive. When something breaks, we commonly remark, “Use Fevicol to put it back together.”The adhesive has been in operation since 1959. And we all know how popular it is, whether it’s a Bollywood song or the renowned tagline used in Fevicol commercials. It has stood the test of time and has remained with us. However, this popularity was not achieved quickly.

Balvant Parekh, the creator of the distinctive white and blue Fevicol, had his ups and downs.  Balvant, who is called India’s Fevicol Man, has a fascinating story to tell, from being a youngster in Mahuva to becoming a freedom warrior, a peon, a merchant, and eventually a business mogul.

Balvant’s parents intended him to become a lawyer when he was born in Mahuva, Bhavnagar. This was also a period when the country was struggling for independence. Balvant, like many other students, interrupted his studies to join the Freedom movement.

But he returned later and earned his law degree from the Government Law College in Mumbai. He passed the bar exam. He never practiced law, though.

He married Kantaben because he couldn’t find work. In Mumbai, he began working in a dyeing and printing press. That did not work out, so he changed employment. He began working as a peon. Balvant and his wife used to live in the warehouse due to a lack of resources.

There was a big boost for Indian businesses just after independence. More swadeshi items and industries were required in the country.

Parekh and his brother, Sushil, founded Parekh Dyechem Industries in Mumbai in 1954 to trade and manufacture dye and industrial chemicals, as well as pigment emulsions.  Prior to this, he began his import business, importing cycle, areca nut, and paper colors from western nations.

Balvant observed carpenters using fat to bond wood. They couldn’t rely on any glue in the nation. And he desired to alter that.

Fate intervened, and Balvant was forced to spend a month in Germany. He began purchasing more shares of a German company, Fedco, in which he had a 50% stake. He created Favicol glue. The suffix -col is a German term that signifies “something that connects two things.” Suitable for his glue.

Narendra, Balvant’s younger brother, finished his education and joined his brother’s company. In 1959, the company was renamed Pidilite Industries and produced only one product, Fevicol. The country offered unbranded adhesives at the time, and Fevicol was able to create a monopoly.

Pidilite began with a single product and has since expanded into industries such as art materials and stationery, food and fabric care, automobile goods, adhesives, and sealants, and specialty industrial products such as adhesives, pigments, textile resins, leather chemicals, and construction chemicals.

The legendary Fevicol TV commercials are something we all remember. Balvant ranked 45th on Forbes Asia’s India Rich List 2013 with a fortune of $1.36 billion. He died in January of 2013 when he was 88 years old.

Balvant’s Pidilite has grown from a single office in Mumbai to 14 worldwide subsidiaries.  The corporation operates plants in the United States, Thailand, Dubai, Egypt, and Bangladesh. In addition, they operate a research facility in Singapore.

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