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Undiscovered gems in the Industry

January 25, 2011
Spark to sparkle
Employees at Hari Krishna Exports turn in a profit after taking time out for volleyball, cricket and the gym.

Simada on the outskirts of Surat, Gujarat's diamond city, is a landscape of rough roads and real estate projects. We are headed for Hari Krishna Campus, wondering why a diamond factory calls itself a campus. Our confusion is complete as we enter: the factory building seems to occupy just a sliver of the 105,000 sq.ft. plot. And there are young men playing cricket… Where are the diamond polishers?

We are guided to the "pavilion", where Savjibhai Dholakia, a partner in Hari Krishna Exports, sits in an office called the Think Tank. "Sports play a vital role in improving skills and quality of output," says Dholakia. "Every employee should be stress free to give better output."

Number of employees: 3,000
The new factory houses a cricket pitch, volleyball courts and a large pavilion. The employees at the new factory draw an average monthly salary of Rs 35,000, which was just Rs 10,000 around three years ago. Dholakia's target is to take the average earning to Rs 1,00,000 by the end of 2012, without increasing production costs. Of course, he also expects that the happier employees will help increase the turnover by 50 per cent to Rs 1,500 crore by then.

"We do not pay more than the industry," says Dholakia. "We just pay the worth we derive out of our employees," he adds. But there are a few things that Hari Krishna Exports does differently . All the 1,000 employees and their family members get a group medical insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh. The company pays a total premium ofRs 45 lakh on this head.

The firm has a charitable trust that runs a hospital in Katargam, another diamond hub some 12 km from Simada, where it has its older factory with 2,000 employees.

Katargam has its own story. At the factory, actually an agglomeration of four buildings in a neighbourhood of narrow lanes, lunch time is a logistical exercise. The terraces of the four factory buildings are covered with tin shades and are used as dining areas, while the ground floor of the central building has a kitchen. There is a 'food only' lift that moves all the meals to the terrace of the central building. From there, utensils and food are loaded onto trolleys that are put on a "ropeway" linking the rooftops.

For the 2,000 employees drawing an average monthly salary of Rs 15,000, one free meal a day is welcome. The industry pays its employees by the carat or weight of the stones they handle every day; by not having to go out for lunch, they can work more. The elaborate screening and checking of every employee entering or leaving the building also takes time. "This helps to save nearly an hour every day," says Dholakia.

Beyond food, the Katargam factory also has an auditorium, a library and a gym. The family trust runs an old-age daycare home in two of the buildings. At Simada, on any given day, Dholakia has a backlog of 200 job applications on his table. In the time the BT team spent with him, he hired three people. Dholakia asks a 19-year-old: "What brings you here?" The boy replies: "A bright future." And it is not a cliché. Narendra Nawapara, 28, began his career at Hari Krishna Exports 10 years ago after completing Class IX. Today, Nawapara drives a Hyundai Getz to work.

How does the place treat him? "I have already spent 10 years here and I do not rule out putting another 30 here," says Nawapara, a volleyball enthusiast who spends two hours on the court every evening.

-Rajiv Bhuva



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