Bobba Group: Legacy business escalating with next generation changemakers

As second-generation leaders, Chandrakala and Balajee Bobba are bringing 360-degree change to the Bobba Group while balancing family and business


In 1992, VS Bobba started a company that acted as a general sales and service agent in the aviation sector. Three decades later, the company has evolved to become a leader in the aviation, airport cargo, ground handling services, logistics, and warehousing space.

The Bobba Group has seen tremendous growth and its second-generation leaders Chandrakala Bobba and Balajee Bobba are all set to take the legacy forward.

With over 950 employees, the Bobba Group has been built on its core values of efficiency, honesty, trust and commitment, says Chandrakala Bobba, Director at Bobba Group.

“Strong values and vision, embracing innovation and adaptability and personal connect are the key cornerstones of our success,” she adds.

Talking to SME Futures, Chandrakala and Balajee talk about how their legacy business has evolved from a mere sales agent to a one stop shop for supply chain and logistics solutions.

Sister-brother duo taking the legacy ahead

“30 years back, my father set the foundation and now my brother and I are adding to the growth with newer initiatives like – Bobba Logistics,” says Chandrakala.

Besides being a part of a bigger ecosystem, the Bobba’s felt the need to tap into the potential of micro fulfilment centres and micro warehousing in India. That’s why they launched Bobba Logistics—a 360° warehousing solution for fast cargo transportation with an expected annual turnover of 10 crores per year.

“In countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Tokyo, tech-enabled multi storey warehousing is a solution that is already in use. This kind of logistics solution can help companies reduce their transportation costs and improve on delivery time – the keys to success for most retail businesses,” she says.

“We saw huge opportunity for growth in the logistics sector, so we created a brand called Bobba Logistics and we aim to expand this further, in addition to taking care of our air cargo operations and aviation business,” she adds.

The brand-new 75,000 square foot tech enabled warehouse facility is well equipped to handle all supply chain needs. It features 8 docking stations, a remote monitoring system, and a cold zone with a 500-pallet capacity. It offers value-added services such as sorting, reverse packing, grading, pre-cooling, and the ability to handle several commodities.

According to the duo, the technologically advanced Bobba Logistics warehouse will save transportation costs and speed up delivery for businesses. “For faster deliveries, the warehouse is conveniently located close to the city centre,” she says.

Bobba business dynamics

In a family business, often the second generation gets many advantages, which makes the learning curve easier.

Chandrakala believes that a family business is a foundation that tests all the skills and capabilities of an individual. “Second generation responsibilities come with a huge spotlight. What we agree on can be disagreed upon by the family board based on a generation’s worth of experience of how certain things should be and what should be portrayed to the public. Fortunately, it’s the same business experience that I have learnt from which has polished me into what I have become today,” she says.

“My brother and I have embraced our successes and failures and learnt from them. Adopting a growth mindset has helped us to alleviate performance pressure by focusing on continuous improvement rather than on being solely outcome oriented,” she tells us.

She says that the drive and motivation to do something in life started while she was in college. “The passion and zeal with which my father established this business inspired me to start my journey. It was an organic transition that came without any force or pre-conditioned responsibility. I consider myself lucky as this was the best way for it to happen, as this has led to immense self-growth for me,” she adds.

Balajee weighs in, saying, “Being an ardent proponent of continuity, where results are not dictated by the quarterly earnings but by a vision spread over decades and expanding the legacy with unparalleled commitment to service, integrity, efficiency and transparency, it was always a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ to build on the foundation of the Bobba Group.”

First affair in family biz

Both Chandrakala and Balajee began their careers on the shop floor.

Chandrakala started as an intern as part of a university project many years ago. And so far, she has had many life changing experiences. “It was my wonderland. That’s where my journey started, learning the definitions of the air cargo world from the IATA books, learning the A-B-C-D of airports and cargo handling,” she reminisces.

Balajee’s first job was during his high-school summer vacation. “I used to do categorising, filing, documentation, data entry and basic accounting and verification. This was a valuable experience as it taught me the importance of streamlined processes, efficiency and understanding the basics of the business at an early age,” he tells us.

As a postgraduate, Balajee worked on the shop floor. “It was the best possible job to understand the nuances of every operational detail, the safety and security protocols, the number of on-the-fly solutions during peak hours and understanding customer’s unique requirements. The key was to experience first-hand the real time challenges and addressing the critical nature of operational success, keeping the customer’s requirements as a priority,” he says.

Chandrakala and Balajee of Bobba Group

Challenges are part of the legacy

Challenges are always a part of every industry. The Bobba duo also faced their fair share of challenges, as there were no favours being granted or mistakes being overlooked for them.

“That just motivates me to break the glass ceiling even harder. It may not have been a smooth journey, but we all learn and sharpen ourselves with time,” says Chandrakala.

“I recall an incident in which an immediate boss mishandled and misinterpreted contracts. Because of this, the contract had to be rebid, and my present colleague was in the bidding race. That was one of those occasions when, as a woman, I had two options: either retreat and become a victim of circumstance, which I thought was the easier approach, or bring this issue up and fight it properly. The task was to persuade the board that everything we lose is not a loss, and no fight is done until it’s done,” she says.

As the second generation, they also feel that the biggest challenge is balancing family and business. “The key is to not bring work home. However, in a family business it is near impossible to not discuss business at home every day. The spotlight is ‘always on’ when it comes to the second generation. It takes a while to find your groove, coming to agreeable terms for any new strategy, considering the wide spectrum of experience that a family board comes with,” says Balajee.

Change comes with a transformative mindset

With their zealous attitude, both have brought in favourable changes for the company. Chandrakala says that the secret to advancing business growth and maintaining competitiveness in the digital age is digital transformation. “As the second generation, we are bringing forth technological improvements that are in line with current developments,” she says.

Investments in technology, digital strategy, and data analytics have changed the culture of the company. Also, the company has integrated green energy into its systems to seamlessly integrate renewable energy sources, lowering their carbon footprint since transportation expenses are the single highest operating expense.

Roadmap for the business

Logistics is one of the fastest growing businesses today and India will see robust growth over the next five years. Taking this narrative ahead, Bobba Logistics’ next-generation leaders want to make the company one of the fastest-growing in the world.

“We place a premium on tenacity and long-term business planning. We wish to offer our customers first-rate service and cutting-edge infrastructure that meets worldwide delivery standards. We aim to take our company to the next level while maintaining the dependability and reliability that the Bobba Group is known for,” Chandrakala asserts.

The company is working on expanding in the southern markets. “We want to travel east before heading north after having started in the south. We’ll eventually cover all of India. Excellent customer service and superior quality are synonymous with the Bobba brand, and we want to further nurture these attributes,” she reveals.

Second generation leaders play a pivotal role in professionalising a business and building on the legacy of the first generation.

This duo realises that taking ahead their legacy needs lots of work. Chandrakala and Balajee Bobba serve as an example of how today’s Indian youth is playing a key role in shifting the focus from a single vertical to a more diverse set of initiatives, while keeping up with the times.

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