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August 27, 2013

Raunaq Singh - Success behind Apollo Tyres

Raunaq Singh - Success behind Apollo Tyres

Raunaq Singh was probably the first successful entrepreneur independent India had ever seen. He was a source of inspiration to budding entrepreneurs not only in India, but also across the seven seas. Raunaq Singh was the founding member of 7th largest tyre company in the world, Apollo Tyres ltd.; and he also established Raunaq Group. Today, Raunaq Group comprises of Raunaq international ltd, Bharat Steel Tubes Ltd., Apollo Tyres Ltd, Menarini Raunaq Pharma Limited, Bharat Gears ltd and many more companies.

Early Life

Raunaq Singh was born on August 16 in the year 1922 to middle class family in Daska, Pakistan (now). In 1947, India became independent from the clutches of British. Post independence, British India was divided into two independent countries India and Pakistan, in order to settle the religious conflicts between the Hindus and the Muslims. Like many other non-Muslims living in Pakistan, Raunaq Singh also had a very hard time surviving in Pakistan. So, he moved to India as a refugee in 1947.

Back in Pakistan

Back in Lahore, Raunaq Singh and his friends used to sell used second hand steel pipes on bicycles to his clients, at the price of new ones and that too after receiving an advance. He sold them for almost double the price, of what he had procured them for.

Later, he was employed as a salesman by a steel pipe merchant in Lahore. He started with a salary of Rs. 8 per month, which was a princely amount in those times. The job not only taught him the basics of business, but also sharpened his natural entrepreneurial skills.

Though he had excellent marketing skills since the very beginning, however, he had no access to higher educational qualification, money or god father. It was Raunaq Singh’s strong entrepreneurial skills that made him a huge success in the corporate world.

Life as a Refugee in India

Raunaq Singh moved to India as a refugee from Pakistan, in 1947.  He along with 13 others camped out in a small one room apartment in Gole Market Delhi. Raunaq Singh worked on a small spice shop in the neighborhood, Munilal Bajaj & Co. so as to make ends meet.  The job gave him an income of 1 paisa a day, which was just not enough to keep the family going.

His finances were the only thing holding him back from starting his own venture. Thus, in November 1947 he decided to sell off his wife’s jewellery in Delhi’s old Chandni Chowk Market for a sum of eight thousand rupees to head to Kolkata to test his luck.


The Corporate Journey from Lahore to New Delhi:

In Kolkata, Raunaq Singh opened his first spice trade shop at 85, Netaji Subhash road. The venture was successful and he was able to make a decent living. But, his destiny was about to change. Soon, he set up Bharat Steel Pipes ltd., which later established itself as the biggest Steel pipe manufacturing company in the Indian History.

In an interview, he confessed that once, he could not find an economy class railway ticket from Delhi to Kolkata. Therefore, he had no choice but to put in a little more cash and opt for Executive class coach as he had to reach Kolkata as soon as possible to close a huge spice deal, or else the deal would slip right through his hands. Little did Raunaq Singh know that his fate was just about to take a turn. He was sitting next to the CEO of a leading Steel Tube Manufacturing Company from Germany, who also happened to be travelling to Kolkata on a business trip. Soon, they started conversing and the German CEO made a business proposal to Raunaq Singh. Raunaq Singh just couldn’t refuse. The German gentleman had offered to set up a steel Tube Manufacturing plant in Kolkata for Raunaq. Since Raunaq Singh didn’t have even money to invest in the venture, the gentleman offered to set up the industry at his own expense; while Raunaq Singh could return the invested amount later, after the company had started running.

In a short span of time, the first Bharat Steel Pipes plant was set up in Kolkata. His first deal was for just 1000 rupees. Soon, a word spread about the industry and its highly promising product range. Now, the company not only supplied its produce to Indian clients, but also exported Steel Pipes to parts of Europe and America. The venture was a huge success.

Raunaq Singh believed in grabbing every opportunity that came his way. Brick by brick, Raunaq Group was built. Soon, Raunaq Singh began trying to manufacture diverse range of products from tyres to pharmaceutical products. He became the founder of Raunaq Automotive Components Ltd, Apollo Tyres Ltd., Raunaq International Ltd., Menarini Raunaq Pharma Ltd. and Bharat Gears Ltd. As it is rightly said that, “luck favors the brave”. By the stroke of destiny all his bold and risky seeming ventures were extremely flourishing.

He played a vital role in shaping up the three apex associations namely FICCI, ASSOCHAM and FIEO, which influenced the economic liberalization of India .Thus, his hard work, dedication and strong tradesmanship made him the first generation entrepreneur of independent India.

Awards & Achievements

Raunaq Singh received many awards during his lifetime. He was a called “Mr. Exporter”, for his zest to export Indian products into the international market. Also, he held various prestigious positions like

President of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), President of Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ACCI), President of ASSOCHAM (the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India, Chairman of EEPC (Engineering Export Promotion Council) and Chairman of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Organization. Also, he was a member of the Executive Board of The International Chambers of Commerce, Paris for a three year term. 

His Unfulfilled Wish

In an interview session in 1986, Raunaq Singh expressed his desire to have his memoirs penned down before he died. But, his packed schedule, left him with very little time and energy to have his memoirs written. Thus, at the age of 78, Raunaq Singh handed over the reins of the company to his son, Onkar Singh Kanwar. Also, he finalized a Punjabi journalist to write his memoirs while he was still alive. But, the project crashed before it even began. On September 22 in the year 2002, India lost the charismatic entrepreneur. Thus, his wish to have his memoirs written remained unfulfilled.

The former chairman of Apollo Group, Raunaq Singh is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter.

Tags : Apollo Tyres, Raunaq Singh,Raunaq international ltd, Bharat Steel Tubes Ltd., Apollo Tyres Ltd, Menarini Raunaq Pharma Limited, Bharat Gears ltd..

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I have been writing for almost 3 years now for various clients