Ajanta Orpat is a wall clock maker that has a turnover of over Rs 1,000 crore. But there’s more to this company, which lives and breathes woman empowerment.
The good old wall clock has an oddly soothing effect, even in the modern times where smart devices rule, . Odhavji Raghavji Patel,a Science teacher, who lived in Morbi, Gujarat, was in 1971 roped in as one of the partners in a company that made wall clocks. Odhavji was earning Rs 55 per month when Ajanta Transistor Clock Manufacturing Co. was founded with a Rs 1 lakh investment.
Odhavji joined the company despite having no prior business expertise since the three other partners were looking for someone with a scientific background.
One could argue that the company exists because of Odhavji’s lack of commercial experience. The company lost money for the first three years, prompting the founding group of three partners to leave, but Odhavji opted to stay and make it work. The brand, Orpat, was derived from the full name of Odhavji.
Pravin Patel, who is Odhavji ‘s son, was 19-year-old when he joined the company in 1975. Until then, the company primarily focused on producing manual wall clocks.
Odhavji and Pravin brought the quartz technology to India from Taiwan and Japan, transforming the company into Ajanta Quartz. Quartz clocks preserve time by using an electric oscillator controlled by a quartz crystal. Clocks no longer needed to be wound using this technology.
In 1985, the business began employing its own in-house quartz technology, and it is possible that this is when the founders realised they could accomplish a lot more. Between 1991 and 1996, Ajanta formed a new arm, called Orpat, as well as calculators and telephones.
It’s no surprise, then, that the company quickly grew to become India’s largest calculator manufacturer.
Soon enough, Orpat, started making a range of electronics and home appliances. Ajanta Group now clocks a Rs 1,250 crore turnover. The company has grown to 450 distributors and exports to 45 countries.
Director of Ajanta Orpat Group, Nevil Patel, is grandson of Odhavji,. Nevil attributes the company’s expansion into such a diverse range of products to his father.
However, there is more to Orpat than just the things they manufacture or the profits they make. It is a business that lives and breaths female empowerment.
Out of a total workforce of 5,600 people, 5,000 are women, accounting for about 96%. Vanitaben, Nevil’s mother, was the company’s first female employee, according to Nevil. Vanitaben, he recalls, undertook a lot of the company’s operational work at the time she joined.
Pravin and his wife would walk door-to-door in their hometown of Morbi in 1985-86, seeking to get ladies to join the company. Nevil adds that, now, having such a big percentage of women in the workforce has been a huge source of strength for Ajanta Orpat since the women did not leave the company even in difficult times.