Nagesh Nadar began working at 13, helping his father Pichamani Nadar hawk vegetables under the flyover leading to Chembur in northeast Mumbai. His younger brother Suresh joined him a few years later. Today, Nagesh is 49, Suresh, 45; their vegetable retailing company, A.P. Mani & Sons - father Pichamani passed away in 1983 - has a daily turnover of Rs 6 lakh. Its revenue in 2010/11 was around Rs 25 crore with a profit after tax of Rs 80 lakh. (Video: Suresh and Nagesh Nadar on their business plans)
The first step forward in this amazing transformation was the Nadars' acquisition of a bicycle-fitted cart, which enabled them to go door to door. The second was getting into tie-ups with a few caterers, who placed large orders daily. But the big breakthrough came in 1998 with their realisation of how pressed for time Mumbai residents were: they followed the advice of a customer who suggested they sell vegetables packed in plastic bags to spare buyers the trouble of sifting through the stock. "We tried it and it was an instant hit," says Suresh. Their next move was even more radical: they began selling sliced vegetables in packets, providing an added convenience for the busy. Both initiatives were a first in Mumbai.
Suresh (L) & Nagesh NadarYesterday
Sold vegetables under a Mumbai flyover
Own a 2,000-sq. ft. shop in Chembur, supply packed vegetables to leading supermarkets
The biggest boost came in 2000, when they entered into an agreement with the realty company Hiranandani Constructions, which was setting up its first Haiko supermarket at Powai, 15 km away from Chembur, part of a large residential complex it was building. "We approached them with our idea of selling packaged vegetables," says Nagesh. "They were impressed. They tried us out for a month and found the response good. We then entered into a tie-up, which continues till date." With the Haiko contract in the bag, the Nadars set up A.P. Mani & Sons. It has two divisions: the wholesale one, which supplies daily to Haiko and other supermarkets such as D'Mart; and the retail one, now no longer under the flyover, but in a plush 2,000-sq ft shop in Chembur.
A.P. Mani employs 200 people; has a large packaging unit where fresh vegetables and fruit - bought daily from the wholesale Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee, or APMC, market in Navi Mumbai - are cleaned and neatly packed; and its own branded tempos, which deliver the packets to a host of client stores and homes, stretching up to Raigad district. In keeping with the times, it also takes orders on telephone, by e-mail and even through a Facebook page it has opened.
The brothers and their families have shifted from the chawl they lived in to an upmarket apartment in Chembur, where property prices are currently in the range of Rs 20,000 per sq ft. But prosperity has not changed some of their past best practices. "We still wake up at 3 am and visit the APMC market to personally choose the vegetables," says Nagesh. "We are continuing the tradition our father started to ensure our customers get the best."