India is a powerhouse of information technology and information technology enabled services in the world today, but back in the early nineties, when information technology was just beginning to make inroads into India, the vast majority had no clear understanding of what it was or its huge transformative power. Among the few to see it as a revolutionary tool of tomorrow, both in the commercial and non-commercial domains, was Vishnu Kumar Bhandari of Kolkata, who founded his information technology (IT) products and services company Supertron Electronics Pvt Ltd, in 1993.
A supply chain giant
V K Bhandari’s association with information technology actually goes further back, having started his career with Sujata Electronics, a personal computer manufacturing Company, a few years before laying the foundation stone of Supertron Electronics. The Indian IT industry has grown exponentially since then and so has Bhandari, considering that Supertron Electronics is a name to reckon with in India’s IT product distribution and services industry today. But way back in those inceptive years, it was merely a trading house which Bhandari had founded to provide cost-effective products and solutions in all areas of IT. From just three workers back then, the company has grown to boast over 750 employees today, a pan-India presence and national distribution rights for some of the most reputed IT brands in the world. Asked about the mantra behind this extraordinary success, Bhandari says, “We have always believed that progress is powered by partnerships and with the aim to provide cost-effective products and solutions to customers.”
V K Bhandari (extreme left) receiving Best Brand Strategist in India award at Business Leaders Awards 2019
Supertron’s long journey to success started with early patronage from clients like Kobian (for their Mercury brand of PC components) and other brands like LG and Canon. In a bid to grow and expand, the company then opened branch offices in Ranchi, Patna, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati, thereby strengthening its position in eastern India. It then extended its footprint to the rest of the country by opening branches in other cities. This pan-India network, together with Supertron’s commitment to customer satisfaction, the passion to excel, its strong business ethics and seamless teamwork brought the company rich rewards. Talking about it, Bhandari says, “Our vast reach and strong network and our complete understanding of the domestic IT market has helped various international organisations to establish their footprints in the Indian IT market.” The turning point, we learn from him, was a national distribution tie-up with Seagate in 2006 and signing up with Dell for distribution of its commercial range in 2008. The rest, as they say, is history.
A leading IT and telecom distribution and services intermediary today with an ISO 9001:2008 quality certification, Supertron Electronics boasts a whopping FY 2018-19 turnover of ₹3,400 crore. It enjoys association with over 25 leading brands, which includes names like Seagate, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Samsung, LG, TP Link, Synology, ZOTAC and Kaspersky, among others. Being a partnership driven company, it works with the objective of establishing long-term associations with its principals, together with whom it too has grown. On the supply side, Supertron has earned reputation as a national supply chain specialist that offers a gamut of IT products—these include desktops, laptops, PC components, computer peripherals, memory modules, gaming, networking and storage products and more—through a network of 34 branch offices and warehouses and 17 satellite offices across 29 states and union territories. Apart from distribution and trade, it also offers products through retail and online.
V K Bhandari (extreme left) addressing the SEPL team at the Annual Business Meet of Supertron
Awards and honours
Supertron’s successes, as could be expected, have earned it prestigious awards over the years. Among the more prominent of these include ‘Top 10 SME Entrepreneur (Achievers Awards)’ from SME Channels in 2011; ‘Best Emerging Business Partner’ award by the TATA Group in 2014; ‘Hall of Fame Award’ by the CyberMedia Group in 2014; ‘Best Brand Strategist of the Year’ award by ASSOCHAM in 2016; ‘Corporate Bengal Award’ for fastest growing company, from The Economic Times, in 2017; and ‘Power Brand Rising Star’ award in London, Oval, in 2017; among others.
As for the future, in keeping with its vision to upgrade continuously in terms of systems and processes and given its knowledge and strength as a distributor of various products in the areas of audio, video, voice, data, networking and application protection, Supertron has set up a new business vertical called Value-added Distribution (VAD)—a service that is being increasingly required in view of the sophisticated nature of products being sold today. Through this pioneering initiative, Supertron plans to develop future-ready IT/AV solutions for the AV over IP market in India, by digitally linking every family, business and community. VAD will benefit the Indian system integration community by allowing better distribution of AV processing capabilities and scaling up with user needs. Towards this, Supertron intends to provide pre-sale support comprising product demonstration, installation and technical support also.
A computer empowerment centre run by Supertron Foundation for underprivileged children in Kolkata
A committed philanthropist
As a person, V K Bhandari has been deeply rooted in philanthropy from his earliest years as an entrepreneur. Further, he feels that god has been very kind to him and that he has been endowed with ability and opportunity to support people and children in need. To this end, sensing the need to professionalise CSR activities with a focused approach, the Supertron Foundation was created in 2014. Initially, the foundation started working in different areas of West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Nasik. “The basic objective of Supertron Foundation is to extend support to all segments of disadvantaged groups, without discrimination on the grounds of the age, gender, caste, creed and religion of beneficiaries,” explains Bhandari. “Our focus involves overall development that is inclusive of health and disability, with special emphasis on education and skill development.” Keeping in mind that computer literacy is a must for all today, a chain of computer empowerment centres also have been started for underprivileged children so as to make them computer ready for the future.
Plans for tomorrow
Though Bhandari’s successes and achievements as an entrepreneur are exemplary, he feels he still has more to do, keeping in mind his vision of being the most preferred distribution and services partner in the Indian IT and telecom industry. He also looks to push his turnover to ₹4,100 crore in FY 2019-20. But all this while subscribing to Supertron’s mission of upgrading further in terms of systems and processes, upholding a transparent work culture and ethical business practices, fostering a culture of innovation, free thinking and empowerment, and most importantly, keeping people, its most valued asset, at the centre of everything.
Vishnu Kumar Bhandari lives in Kolkata with his wife Shobha, son Vipul and daughter Nupur.