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Friday, December 2, 2022

Moiz Rajkotwala and his brother built Rs 188 cr business from Rs. 4 lac

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Moiz Rajkotwala and his brother Shabbir Rajkotwala grew born in a one-room one-kitchen
house in Mumbai’s Dongri district and came from humble beginnings to develop a Rs 188 crore
turnover business.
The boys had developed street smarts early in life as a result of their daily travel to school by
public transportation.
“We took the BEST bus to school every day because we couldn’t afford to pay for the school
bus,” Moiz explains.
They learned to deal with a variety of problems on their own because no elder from the family
would join them.
It provided them the confidence they needed later in life, when they went into company, to deal
with more difficult situations.
Moiz and Shabbir worked as building contractors for a few years after earning their diploma in
civil engineering before launching Unitile Raised Access Floor Systems in 1994 with a Rs 4 lakh
investment from their savings.
False flooring is a type of raised access floor. It is a modular flooring system, similar to a
modular kitchen, that can be easily erected, disassembled, and reassembled. This sort of flooring
is commonly found in business buildings and IT parks where there is a lot of cable and wire
work to be done. Cables and wires are installed beneath the floors to facilitate maintenance work.
“You need to remove only the tiles in a certain place where there is some trouble and then put the
tiles back after correcting the issue without hindering any work in the office,” Moiz explains.
Moiz has come a long way since his family used to live in a Dongri chawl. His father was a
small-time civil contractor, and the family survived on his meager earnings.
Moiz was raised by a homemaker and has two younger siblings, Shabbir and a sister. Holy Name
High School was where the brothers went to school.
Moiz enrolled in Mohamad Haji Saboo Siddik Polytechnic College after finishing Class 10,
where he earned a diploma in civil engineering.
Four years later, Shabbir completed the same course at the same institution.

The brothers, like their father, longed to be on their own. Moiz began doing contract work for
Military Engineer Services (MES), a defense infrastructure construction organization, after
finishing his diploma in 1982, because his father was already a registered contractor with MES.
He was only 19 years old at the time, riding his Labrador scooter and constructing little army
structures. Shabbir joined him after finishing his diploma. After the brothers got into business,
the family’s financial situation improved.
Moiz explains, “In those days, most (civil) engineers were paid around Rs 5,000 per month.
However, we were making around Rs 3-4 lakh each year.” In 1984, he accepted a position as a
sales and marketing manager with a building company in Dubai. The pay was good, and life was
comfortable. They furnished him with a car and a nice apartment to stay in.
He admits, “However, I did not enjoy sitting in an office and meeting targets. I wanted to do
something unique. Working for someone else is not for me.”
So he quit his job after six months and returned to India, where he worked for two years as a site
engineer for his uncle in the construction industry. Then he began working on individual projects
while also keeping an eye out for a distinctive business idea.
It was then that he learned about raised access floors, which were not widely recognized in India
at the time, and he seized the opportunity.
Moiz and Shabbir founded the elevated access floor company in 1994, when they were 31 and 27
years old, respectively. They established a tiny manufacturing operation and hired two workers
to produce the tiles.
Some banks, including Morgan Stanley, were among their first clients. “Because we were
already conducting civil contracting, we had our relationships,” Moiz explains.
“I would meet with architects and companies to discuss the benefits of the increased access floor.
In India at the time, the concept was novel. As a result, there was a need to raise awareness about
our tiles. Everyone is now aware.”
The mid-90s IT boom helped them since IT parks and offices preferred raised access floors due
to the massive amounts of cables and wires that had to be put in the buildings.
Initially, they would obtain resources from other countries in order to manufacture the tiles.
However, the supplies were prohibitively pricey. Later, they began to get supplies from within
the country, but not at the expense of quality.
“It not only sped up the delivery process, but it also cut costs,” says Idris Rajkotwala, 30, son of
Shabbir Rajkotwala, an executive director at Unitile.
He joined the company ten years ago, when its turnover was at Rs 60 crore, and adopted new
tactics that aided in the company’s growth.

Idris has a BSc in marketing from MDIS in Singapore. Later, he attended the SP Jain Institute of
Management’s Post Graduate Program in Family Managed Business (PGP-FMB).
“I took the course to learn how to properly run a family business and to take it to the next level,”
Idris adds.
In addition to sales, he concentrated on brand buildng and acquiring the trust of customers and
Drashti Shah, his wife, is a senior manager in the company in charge of marketing and
Idris recalls, “She was very helpful in creating the brand.”
Unitile, which began with two youthful co-founders and two employees, today employs 250
people. They collaborate with some of the country’s best architects.

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