A Homeless Peon, Who made 1.50 trillion company "Fevicol": Balvant Parekh

Sometimes, the most extraordinary journeys begin with unforeseen challenges. Balwant Parekh, famously known as the Fevicol Man, epitomizes this. His path was fraught with obstacles and persistent failures, yet each hurdle paved the way to his unparalleled success. 

From humble beginnings to the pinnacle of achievement, Parekh's story is a testament to resilience and the transformative power of perseverance, proving that the toughest journeys often lead to the most remarkable destinations.

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Balwant Parekh was born in 1925 in the small town of Mahua, Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. He never imagined that he would one day become one of India's most renowned entrepreneurs.

Balvant is lovingly called, ‘BKP’ or ‘Balubhai’ completed his law degree from Government Law College in Mumbai. He did not get any placement or work. Balwant took a job in a paper dyeing factory. This was a far cry from his legal background, but he accepted the job as he needed money to live. 

After his graduation, he had no work so he started working as a peon in a wood trader's office.  As the pay was minimal they couldn't afford a house. Balwant and his wife slept in a factory warehouse of the wood trader he worked for.

Despite these hardships, Balwant clung to his dream of becoming a businessman. He yearned for something more dynamic, something that would allow him to create and innovate. Initially, he founded the enterprise, but it faced numerous challenges and adversities. 

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The First Venture and Initial Failures

Balwant's first attempt at business was importing paper dyes from Western nations. This venture, however, failed due to financial constraints. With no money, it could not be easy to run a business. The business failed, and Balwant once again became jobless. This setback could have broken his spirit, but Balwant was undeterred.

After some time, He found employment at a German chemicals company named Fedco. This job was more aligned with his interests, and he gained valuable experience with this job. However, Fedco eventually went out of business. He faced unemployment once again, but he was determined not to be defeated.


The Birth of Pidilite and Fevicol

Balwant, along with his brother, founded Parekh Dychem Industries (PD Lite) to sell chemical speciality products in India. During this time, Balwant noticed a significant gap in the market. As a wood carpenter, he knew the existing adhesive, made from animal parts, was not only weak but also objectionable to many due to its composition. Here he found the need and opportunity. 

Balwant seized this opportunity and introduced India to its first "vegetarian glue," which was made entirely from synthetic resins. He named this product Fevicol. It was a blend of "Fedco" and "Col," the German word for glue. He launched the company in the year 1959. Fevicol revolutionised the market with its demand.

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After recognizing that 80% of glue users were carpenters, Balwant established the Fevicol Champions Club. This community was not only a marketing strategy but also an educational platform where carpenters could learn, grow, and support each other. This grassroots approach paid off him massively. Within two decades, Fevicol captured 70% of the market share and used by every second carpenter in the country.

By 1993, PD Lite went public on the Bombay Stock Exchange, marking a significant milestone. But Balwant’s vision extended beyond just dominating the carpenter market. He wanted Fevicol to be a household name. The iconic “Dum lagake haisha” advertisement in 1989, followed by the memorable “Fevicol ka mazboot jod hai, tootega nahi” campaign, propelled Fevicol into the homes of millions. The advertisement Guru Piyush Pandey’s unique advertising approach joined it with togetherness.

Balwant even redesigned the Fevicol logo to feature two elephants joined by the unbreakable bond of Fevicol which symbolises strength and unity. Fevicol became available in 30 gm tubes, making it accessible to everyone, from carpenters to schoolchildren.

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By 2006, Pidilite Industries had expanded to 71 countries. Balwant’s vision saw the introduction of other successful brands like M-Seal and Dr Fixit, further solidifying Pidilite’s presence in the market. It also established manufacturing facilities in the US, Thailand, Dubai, Egypt, and Bangladesh, along with a research centre in Singapore, Pidilite's global footprint grew significantly. He was the 45th richest person in India according to Forbes Asia, his life is a source of inspiration. 

Balwant Parekh’s journey from a peon to the founder of a multi-crore business empire is nothing short of extraordinary. His life story is a testament to the power of resilience, vision, and hard work. He is no more, but always remembered as "The Fevicol Man of India," a visionary who transformed the adhesive product market and left an indelible mark on the industry. His story reminds us that with determination and vision, even the most daunting obstacles can be overcome.

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