Today, Akal Springs, with an annual turnover of Rs 20 crore, has emerged as a sought after ancillary unit for auto firms. “I was always interested in my father’s business and worked with him as an intern in the year 2000. I again joined the company as a trainee in the year 2002; little did I know that one day I would take over the company in such a situation,” said Riat, a graduate in business administration from Amity.
Ludhiana, Punjab based Akal Springs Limited was established in 1974, by Manjit Singh Riat. His experience of forty years in the automotive industry had initially paved the path of success for Akal Springs. However, dull business environment in the late 90’s, threatened its survival as it lost clients and funds went dry. Death of Manjit Singh in 2004 made the situation worse for the company, until young entrepreneur Sandeep Riat took over the control. “Few wrong decisions by the management took away everything. In the beginning, we didn’t have clients and then we lost money to fulfill the orders also,” recalled Riat. Akal Springs revenue in 2004 was Rs 1.5 crores.
The new MD of Akal Springs jumped into damage control, eventually turning the wheel of fortune and transforming it into a profit making unit. She, along with her mother Jaspal Kaur, who is the current chairperson of the company, had seen the financial crises in the family. The difficult times taught them valuable lessons on how to manage the unit with responsibilities. “Though I had to take over the responsibility by joining the company as its MD, it was not so easy for me to revive this business,” she said.
The situation was bad and the state government has never encouraged the industry. However, the labour and the staff supported her to the extent that they worked without wages for few months. All the hard work paid off and the company at present provides livelihood to 150 workers. Riat said with deep gratitude, “Thankfully, god has always been kind to me and saved me from the problems.”
Gradually, Riat built up the empire, clearing titles, making new contacts and starting her new line of exports, Akal Impex. Now her sister Sifti Riat has also joined the company as a director, lending her more support.
An annual turnover of 20 crores, has injected so much confidence in the enterprise that it is now ready to expand to other states. Riat proudly said, “We are starting another manufacturing unit in North India.”
“Renowned companies like Tata and Mahindra are our clients. We also export our products to the small brands in the Middle East, African and European countries. We don’t want to deal with the big brands as it would need a lot of effort to trade with them with our own rules,” she added.
Sandeep Riat, now 31, lovingly called ‘Mini’ by her peers, is also the chairperson of CII, Ludhiana zonal council and has been honoured by the Ludhiana Management Association for being inspirational force for young women. She has won Parman Patra by Punjab state government for her extemporary contribution in Punjab industry.
An avid reader, she never got time to think about marriage, but would want somebody who could match her passion to work.