#Fathersday Special: Nothing is served on a silver platter in our family business – Kamal and Anish Chibba , Chibba Agro Group

There also should be a clear demarcation between work and family issues. Evolving with changing times is also very important to stay relevant and succeed. A family-run business must evolve in order to grow; otherwise it might face risk of alienating both employees and customers.

Kamal Chibba Anish Chibba Fathers Day Story

Fathers have a significant influence in our lives. They are our conscience keepers who guide us to differentiate between right and wrong. In case of family business, they take the role of mentors. The father and son duo, Kamal Chibba and Anish Chibba are no exception to this. Kamal Chibba is the founder and CEO at Pearls. He founded it as a premium brand of Chibba Agro Group and diversified a legacy business that he inherited from his father.  

He currently supervises the product development aspect of the brand. Along with this, he has extensively worked with distributors across India to bring a wide range of products from Pearls to homes of Indians. His son, Anish Chibba is a 23-year-old entrepreneur and Director at the Pearls. Today, the father-son duo has glorified the legacy of a 50 years business by introduction of new products and by qualitatively catering to needs of their customers. 

The legacy of fifty years  

The Chibba Agro Group has a diverse business portfolio that has been serving the market for more than 50 years now. Over these years, the group has diversified into various segments such as offset printing and manufacturing of stationary items. Started in the year 2010, Pearls is a Make in India brand with a wide range of premium products.  

Today, they have a basket of over 15 stock keeping units available in various pack sizes across utility brands such as toilet cleaner, liquid detergent, dish wash gel and bar, glass cleaner, floor cleaner, surface cleaner, and detergent bar. Hence, Pearls has successfully carved its distinct place in the FMCG industry with its market share growing at fast pace in every quarter.  

Talking about journey of the company, Kamal Chibba, Founder and CEO tells that a customer-centric philosophy where they emphasise on provisioning all cleaning needs of customers is the key behind our success. He adds, “We are continuously involved in the R&D of new products that meet customer requirements to ease their daily cleaning task. With strict quality measures in place, we ensure that our customers get a superior quality product.” 

On the other hand, his son Anish was always interested in learning the intricacies of his family business. Recalling old days Anish tells, “I have been interested in learning the dynamics of my family business from a very young age. The discussions about developments of a day between my grandfather, father, and uncle intrigued me. As I grew up, summer vacations were spent in the factory to learn business ethics and in completing small tasks.”  

After completing graduation from Delhi University and MSc. in Finance from Kings College, London, Anish was destined to expand the sales in his father’s business. He has been handling the finance division now under the supervision of his father since September 2018. Anish recalls, “I even interned in the finance department of ‘Jubilant Life Sciences’ for two months to get an insight of corporate environment and to understand how they handle their finances.”  

Handing over of the baton  

Stepping into his father’s shoes is a childhood dream for any son or daughter but proving his or her mettle while adhering to those values is never easy amidst speculations of peers and superiors. Hence, handling an established business empire is never a bed of roses.    

A thriving succession is based on execution of inherited values, culture, and vision. Kamal professes, “Coming from a joint family, we have always inculcated certain values and culture within our children. This includes waking up early, being on time for important events, and paying attention to details. These are aspects that I have given importance at work as well. While growing up, these values and culture were inculcated stringently among children with respect to school projects and studies.” 

Speaking about inheriting his father’s business, Anish says, “The transition for me has been smooth and I think the credit to this goes entirely to my father. He always had confidence in me and therefore he allowed me to carve my own path. Though at times we developed differences in opinions, but he always supported me in executing any new ideas and thereby differences got resolved.” 

It is a proud moment for any entrepreneur to see his son or a family member as his successor.  But whether this transition goes well with the staff and customers is a constant worry.  “Despite having a family business, nothing was served on a silver platter to my son. Everything has been taught to earn while he had intentions to enter our family business. Good grades from eminent academic institutions, internships, and the zeal for hard work were always asked from him like an external employer,” says Kamal.  

Revolutionising the business through new learnings  

A business which was running purely on traditional methods has witnessed a sea-change with the entry of a new generation. Anish has brought new technologies into the operational infrastructure of the company which has enhanced production and efficiency.    

Talking about the changes, he says, “A meeting with distributors would require travel of my distributor development team to various corners of our country. With evolving technology, a lot of meetings are happening via video conferencing. Factory tours are provided with phones and products are delivered quickly without any damage or risk.”  

He also started tracking of sales team digitally which has led to an increase in sales efficiency. Kamal also advocates usage of digital channels such as social media that has increased their marketing activities. Issues of customers were not resolved earlier which directly affected sales.       

“Media now-a-days is much more accessible and cheaper with private channels flourishing in large numbers. Social media has also become a very popular marketing platform where anyone can create brand awareness at a very cheap cost,” he adds.  

Kamal confesses that initially he was skeptical of bringing in new techniques which his son was adamant to adopt. But then he decided to go by a quote by Bertolt Brecht, a German poet, ‘Mixing one’s wines may be a mistake, but old and new wisdom mix admirably.’  

“The initial phase was very difficult while I was making my son aware of technicalities of our business functions. Initially, I was skeptical but gradually I saw how his techniques were effective in approaching clients and in closing deals with distributors. In some ways, he has managed to outperform me. For next generation to take over, it is important to let them carve a path out for themselves,” expresses Kamal.  

Father as a boss and parent  

When your father is also your boss, the equations are bound to be different from what you have at home. There could be a certain degree of divide at work believes Anish, “There is a certain degree of divide at work, which I feel is inevitable to create the right working dynamics. My co-workers never took me as a boss which has helped me in growing holistically.”  

He further adds, “In addition to this, my dad gives me complete freedom in pursuing any change or implementing new ideas. His confidence in me has given me a great push forward. He has been my guiding light throughout the process. I have a hunch that we will be able to take company to new heights together.” 

Lessons learnt in inheritance   

First, regular communication is significant part of any family business.  It helps in assessing grey areas of any business function that are required to be addressed.  Strict boundaries should always be maintained among family members joining a business. Owners should always keep in mind that setting boundaries are crucial to establish and maintain success.  

There also should be a clear demarcation between work and family issues. Evolving with changing times is also very important to stay relevant and succeed. A family-run business must evolve in order to grow; otherwise it might face risk of alienating both employees and customers.  

Supporting your family and employees in difficult times shows unity and integrity of a business. Though generation gap exists everywhere, patience should be shown as new ways of doing business are introduced and while explaining these to elders. “As a finance whiz, talking about numbers is my expertise and I address every question on that front while meeting distributors,” concludes Anish.   

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