Housed in an independent, unassuming structure that stands alone in the midst of imposing high-rises at Mumbai’s plush Kamala Mills, the Ram Ratna Group signifies qualities that make it what it is: self-reliant, challenging and unconventional. Inside, the group’s buzzing workspace gives way to a large meeting room, where walls serve as display units for several of the group’s offerings. It is this space that Sumeet Kabra, who is a director at RR Global, uses as his cabin.
The inceptive years
As he begins to talk about his journey, our conversation inevitably veers towards the genesis of RR Global. “My grandfather, Rameshwarlal Kabra was born in a nondescript village in Bangladesh,” says Kabra, as he begins to uncover the story of the inception of RR Global. “Partition forced him to take refuge in Nepal, where he started a sari shop in 1952. He was doing well, but he knew he was destined for bigger things.”
This quest for bigger things led the Kabras to migrate to India in 1964, where they started trading in magnet wire. Once the family set roots in Mumbai, Rameshwarlal switched from trading to manufacturing magnet wire in 1994. Gradually his three sons too got involved in the business, with which the Kabras’ product portfolio grew to include wires and cables (manufactured by group company RR Kabel, which now is one of the leading building wire and low voltage cable manufacturers in India, with operations in over 80 countries), winding wires (manufactured by group company RR Shramik), electrical consumer durables (manufactured by RR Electric) and electro-mechanical multilevel car park solutions (manufactured by RR Parkon).
The last decade has witnessed full-time involvement of his grandsons as well in RR Global, and one of them is Sumeet Kabra.
Learning the ropes
The son of Mahendra Kabra, Sumeet Kabra’s formative years were spent shuffling between the family home in Mumbai and Silvassa, where his father was stationed at RR Global’s magnet wire plant. After graduating as an electronics and telecommunications engineer, Sumeet pursued a degree in family business management from the prestigious S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, and today, the Young Turk is a torchbearer in one of India’s fastest growing conglomerates.
“I joined RR Kabel full-time in 2008, after completing my post graduation,” says Kabra. “I was stationed for two years at our plant in Silvassa, where I trained on the job, and today, I can proudly say that I can operate most of our machines with relative proficiency.”
“But there truly is no substitute for hard work,” he adds philosophically. True enough, working hard, Sumeet went on to earn his directorship at RR Global in 2013, when the board members decided he was ready for the post. “That’s the thing in our family. We need to prove that we are worthy to deserve the title. And this works as a huge source of motivation for all of us,” he confesses.
An uphill task
Sumeet has been an integral part in RR Kabel’s growth story and challenges have ranged from setting up a new facility in Vadodara from scratch in 2010-11 to breaking the entry barriers in an unconventional market like Bangladesh in 2012-13.
But his most passionate project has been the launch of RR Electric, which marked the group’s foray into electric consumer durables. “Back in 2013, my father cautioned me against the intense competition in the market. I assured him that we would be placed within the top eight players within six years and within the top five in 20 years,” says Sumeet. “I have always believed that every opportunity has a life cycle, which needs to be milked at the right time. Also, what is life without challenges! Challenges make life interesting and overcoming them makes life meaningful.”
Broadening the horizon
In September 2018, US private equity giant TPG Capital acquired a significant minority stake in RR Kabel, which Sumeet says is “expected to usher in the next phase of aggressive growth, in terms of expansion of product portfolio, market outreach and strengthening the brand”. Living in times which are as exciting as they are intimidating, Sumeet believes life is full of opportunities and challenges, and timing is everything. “Transitional economy offers opportunities, while attracting a host of hostilities. Keeping pace with the evolution of technology, while battling out brand wars in the market space is a constant task. Technology can be the game-changer in any business today so keeping abreast of it is imperative,” he says.
Aspire to inspire
An avid motivational speaker, Sumeet is thrilled with the recent turn of events in his life. Often playing the role of a keynote speaker at important industry and confederation meets, Sumeet loves to share his story and business lessons to inspire others. “I believe that growth stories start at the end of your comfort zone. Giving an example is easy, being an example is what is difficult. I walk the talk, which is what makes me more relatable and credible. I enjoy meeting people and networking; so these opportunities serve a dual purpose for me. I hope to inspire people and get to meet people across all walks of life,” he says.
Juggling work with personal life
Father to two beautiful girls, aged six and three, Sumeet Kabra is a committed family man, who makes it a point to reach home by 6:00 pm, when he is not travelling. “Everyone strives to provide a better life to their family. What is the point of it all if you are not available to your family,” he says. As for wife Seepra, she has been a constant source of support to him, committed that she is to caring for the family and bringing up their children.
To balance professional duties with personal responsibilities, Sumeet delegates non-critical factors at work to troubleshooters within the organisation and personally focuses on critical factors which can have far-reaching impact. Keenly aware of the toll that work pressure and constant travelling takes on his body, maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes difficult for him. But he ensures to squeeze in some workout every day and that helps him to refresh and stay in shape to take on future battles with renewed vigour.