Rakesh Kohli (Chairman, Stag International) in a Conversation with Shipra Sharma Highlights The Sportive Spirit of his Organisation.
Stag International, has been an eyewitness to every metamorphosis of the Indian sports industry. Founded in 1922, by a visionary, Lala Arjan Das Kohli, Stag International has grown immensely with the dedication carried forward by his son Tilak Raj Kohli and grandsons Rakesh Kohli, Vivek Kohli, further extended to the fourth generation, represented by Pranav Kohli. Stag International currently operates across 152 countries.
Today, Mr. Rakesh Kohli is the pulsating force behind the commendable position that Stag International is currently at. He looks after the sales and marketing and the operations of the company. Starting his career at a young age of 17, he had joined the family business to know the nuances of the business. But, he kept his sportive spirit alive and played table-tennis ever since. Mr. Kohli is an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University from where he completed his MBA and in 1982; he specialised in marketing from FMS.
His sheer hard work and ‘no compromise’ policies has bagged him the ‘Successful Entrepreneur Award’ conferred by the then President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. He also bagged the ‘Export Excellence Awards’ from 1995 to 2009 and ‘Indian Brand Promotion Award’ from 2000 to 2009 from the Government of India.
Our curiosity about knowing the idea behind the name ‘Stag’ was satiated, when Mr. Kohli simply stated a fact: “Stag is actually a deer. It is swift and is alert. Nothing could have represented sports, especially the movements at the table-tennis game! Thus, we named our enterprise as Stag International.”
He says, “Most of us are also passionate sportsmen. I used to play table tennis for India and have represented India at many international tennis tournaments. The biggest moment of my life was when I was holding the National Flag during march-past championship in Turkey in 2009. We may be into the sports business but our passion towards sports has brought us immense success. That is why we believe in ‘Sports with Spirit’.
According to Mr. Kohli, Stag International had started with the manufacturing of table tennis tables and has since then, turned the tables in their favour, all across the globe. Stag International is in the process of raking in the finest of sportspersons and also is the sponsor of teams from over 20 different countries, across sports such as badminton, table tennis et al.
By dedicating more people and resources to make sure that the products feel great and the safety issues are checked, Stag International has employed over 600 plus committed workers to work beyond their capacities throughout the year. Special training is imparted to them to meet the demands of the ever competitive sports industry.
Mr. Kohli has ensured having tailor-made HR policies to bring out the best out of his employees. “There are certain incentives that employees at Stag enjoy the most. Those in production are entitled to a bonus each month and are given an insurance cover for their families as well,” shares he. The effort is made to make the employees feel at ease and to meet the stringent quality control and timely schedules. Such an endeavour equivocally reverberates their motto, “We do not sell products; we sell satisfaction”.
Regarding satisfaction in their employees, Mr. Kohli believes that only complete harmony at the workplace can bring it. Also, no good work goes waste. “We at Stag acknowledge our employees and reward them adequately. At times to reward exceptional work, we send them abroad to study and they come back, more skilled than ever.”
Interestingly, there are no women in the workforce at Stag’s production unit at Meerut, as he believes that there is a long way before women can face the challenges in production per se. Nevertheless, he feels that women are capable of making their mark in most verticals of the industry.
When it comes to sports, “Stag International is an influential and intimately involved company in shaping the Indian sports industry. Initiating breakthrough technologies, it has produced legendary classics and earned worldwide legitimacy in defining sports,” says Mr. Kamlesh Mehta, eight times National Table Tennis Champion and brand ambassador for Stag International.
Mr. Kohli claims that Stag International manufactures and exports sports equipment to more than 150 countries in the world; across 16 sports categories making it the most “exported” brand of sports goods from India and also the global leader in table tennis tables.
Adding to the fact, Mr. Mehta proudly asserts that Stag is also the only Indian brand that is endorsed by an international sports personality, the former five-times Swedish World Table Tennis Champion, Peter Karlsson, who also aims to coach upcoming Indian table tennis players in India for a number of days - an initiative taken up by Stag itself.
Stag aims at developing more fitness oriented equipments. Mr. Kohli states the fact that by 2020 urban India is going to have a high disposable income, which according to the trend, is speculated to be spent on fitness. Thus, we would penetrate in the fitness market as well. Stag is in the process of becoming the numero uno table tennis exporter across the globe, on which the right strategies have already being laid and the work is on in full swing.
Today, when many family businesses have done well in India, Mr. Kohli believes that “having a family business is like a responsibility and in it one has the power to control and take decisions quickly”.
More importantly, he feels that in a family business, values grow the organisation. It is the values of the family which are then passed on to the employees to follow. At Stag, he says that employee is family. We are honest with our work and that honesty goes a long way. It is because of the support of our employees that we have reached to such heights. Thus, for us, our employee is next to God. He further adds, “And to ensure that all work is in harmony and is in a transparent system, we follow open-door policy at Stag. It creates a sense of familiarity and oneness.”
Life throws opportunities at you and all you are required to do is to grab them as fast as possible. Only then can you grow and get the best in life. As a parting advice Mr. Kohli states, “At Stag, we lap an opportunity whenever it comes. Try working hard towards attaining your goals and be passionate and truthful to it if you really want to succeed in life and its various stages.”
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Commented by Rahul Sharma on August 27,2011