It began as a crane repair workshop in 2001. A decade later, in fiscal year 2010/11, the Haryana-based J.D. Hoist & Cranes, now a crane-manufacturing company, clocked a turnover of Rs 20 crore, a five-fold increase over 2006/07. Of the 500-odd electric overhead travelling, or EOT, crane manufacturers, J.D. Hoist is among the dozen that make cranes capable of lifting over100 tonnes. It boasts corporate biggies such as Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, or BHEL, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Jindal Steel & Power, and Indian Space Research Organisation among its clients.
But it has been a tough ride for Subhash Singh Grover, the man behind J.D. Hoist & Cranes. The second of four children of an Indian Army subedar, Grover grew up in a lower middle-class household where every rupee had to be stretched. His father's salary was just Rs 3,000 when he retired. Grover, who was studiously inclined, worked very hard at the government school he attended. He went on to do a diploma in mechanical engineering. (Video: SS Grover on turning point in his life
Subhash Singh Grover, 43
Was so poorly paid, he had to borrow from his parents every monthToday
Owns a crane manufacturing company with a 20-crore turnover
He then joined Reva Industries, a small-scale crane manufacturer in Faridabad, as a trainee engineer. Even so, his salary - Rs 800 a month in 1991 - was a pittance. "I had taken Rs 25,000 from my parents for the diploma course, but I still had to borrow Rs 300 to Rs 400 every month from them after I began working," says Grover. A year later, he moved to Jindal Strips's crane manufacturing unit in Raigad, Chhattisgarh, as an assistant foreman, for a salary of Rs 1,550 per month. In 1996, he joined Simplicity Projects in Delhi.
It was at Jindal Strips and Simplicity that Grover picked up valuable experience in the various processes of industrial crane manufacturing, which emboldened him to float his own civil contracting firm in 1999. Success followed rapidly. Within a year of its launch, his firm made Rs 4 lakh working on a three-month project for the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. "It was a small job involving fabrication and erection of cranes, but it gave me immense confidence," says Grover.
In 2001, Grover started a crane repair workshop in Bahadurgarh, Haryana, with Rs 8 lakh, much of it borrowed. As it repaired cranes, the workshop also began to receive orders to make small cranes. As orders grew, in 2003, Grover converted his workshop into a manufacturing plant. His breakthrough came in 2007, when he won the contract for an EOT crane from BHEL for Rs 56 lakh. "It established us as quality players and helped us sign more deals with large companies," he says.
This year, to meet growing demand, Grover shifted his factory to a bigger area, where he can produce 600 cranes a year. He feels he still has much to do. "Our profit margin is just 15 per cent. We want to concentrate on quality rather than quantity, because that's where we can command a premium," he says.