From Poverty to Success to Social Contribution
Mr. Johnson G. Therattil was the eldest of 9 children. His father was the Taluka supply officer at Tirchi. He found it difficult to run his home and pay for the children’s education on his meager salary. On completing Std. XII, Johnson decided to do something about his family’s difficult financial situation. He left Kerala and came to Mumbai hoping for a job and furthering his studies. He was determined to make himself completely successful and self-reliant; and support his family back home.
Not having any relatives in Mumbai, he was determined to fight life’s challenges and progress at any cost. He was committed to being self-reliant and not be dependent on his parents. He stormed heaven by offering a series of 9 Novenas at Mahim Church until on the last day of the 9th Novena he got a call from L & T and was taken on as a Trainee. This he feels this was his luckiest opportunity. At L & T, he received a stipend of Rs.250/- p.m. and his training period was for 3 years.
He continued studying through evening classes; completing his Post-Graduate Diploma (equivalent to a degree). Despite being the Junior-most research person in the laboratory; he achieved suggestion awards on cost-cutting in manufacturing activities of MNC. He was the Suggestions Award Winner in 1972-73. L & T made substantial savings on his suggestions on import substitution. He added the handsome cash award of Rs.7,500 to his meticulously accumulated funds and made the down payment for a house in Kalina.
For his ideas and technology he was absorbed as a Junior Chemist on a salary of Rs.1,500-2,000. He was awarded the Indian National Award in 1975 by the President of India. He accords the recognitions he has received to hard work and the blessings of the Almighty. Every Wednesday he continues to talk to Mother Mary about his difficulties.
He brought his brother to Mumbai, helped him get employed as a Bank Manager and get married. He next got his sister married. His father continued to live in Kerala. He got separate houses for his brothers to move into after their respective marriages. He himself got married in 1976 to a girl from Kerala, who became a housewife. They continued to struggle with financial hardship. Despite not having money, he invested in a house to secure his own independence.
A well-wisher prompted him to start something on his own. Post—Emergency, property prices were very low; just Rs.60 per sq. foot at Guru Gobind Singh Industrial Estate, Goregaon. The Manager of the Estate helped him to begin work in a gala with the help of his meager bank savings of around Rs.5,000/- with power from the lift line. He approached a friend of his to lend him his unused stirrer promising to pay him slowly and steadily. The HPA on the Stirrer and the cost of the premises came to Rs.2,500 p.m. To save the cost of hiring educated sales engineers, he personally moved about in the market.
It was indeed better to have his own business instead of working in a job, he felt and moved full-time into his business. However, no bank would support him at this stage. He started working in a humble way and personally sold what he made, in the market and taking materials physically with the assistance of 2 laborers. He completed the HPA of his Industrial Unit in 1980 and became the owner of the premises. By then he felt the space was insufficient and invested in a second gala. This time The South Indian Bank supported him based on his performance. Work increased further.
He found his existing space, insufficient and the restrictions imposed by the Municipal Corporation restricting his growth. In 1985, he purchased a plot at MIDC, Taloja. Bank of Baroda provided the loan for the purchase of land and structure from MIDC. His wife who was helping him in his business now became the proprietor of the new factory – Nice Printing Inks and Coating. With an increase in his Working Capital he increased his machinery and business. He become comfortable financially and began getting involved in Social Work.
1989, he purchased a plot of land in Sunder Nagar where he and his wife jointly constructed a bungalow to their taste. It was inaugurated in 1989 by His Excellence, Joseph Kundukulum, ex-archbishop and his wife’s cousin. Many bishops and cardinals have come and stayed with them when passing through Mumbai. Their presence confers blessings on them, he avers. Sahara TV created a studio on their 1st floor to interview the Archbishop before proceeding for the Election of the new Pope after the passing away of Pope Paul II.
He was elected president of the Kerala Catholic Association for a 2 years term. In 2004-2008, he was again elected president for a second time. He became increasingly involved in the activities of the Congress party. In 2007, he became President, All India Plastic Manufacturers Association Ltd. Despite he being the owner of just a small scale industrial unit; whilst the Association included large companies and Multi-national Corporations they were confident he could represent them. He just completed his term in Sep 2011. He is a highly valued and respected influencer and leader in a number of social and business associations.
Also in 2007, for the elections of the municipal corporation, Kalina was declared as a Seat reserved for Women. His wife, Alice Johnson Therattil was nominated and elected Municipal Corporator by a thumping majority.
Up to 2.30 pm he attends to the Social Work pertaining to the Municipal Corporation; and from 2.30 to 6.30 pm he attends to his commercial business. Their only son Dr Justin Therattil has completed his Ph. D. at UDCT, Matunga and handles the Taloja Factory now.
Hard work will always lead you to success one day or other. Do not look back, only look ahead are the gems he offers the youth.
We believe in service now, he smiles. He is content with his bungalow and wonderful family. His son is married. Realizing he himself does not have a bungalow in Kerala, he is looking forward to building his bungalow there now. He expects his son to take things further with his education and readymade industry. He is satisfied that things are running well; the family is financially comfortable and his personal commitments fulfilled.
(As narrated to Raymond D’$ouza, Business Coach)
(Published in the Secular Citizen, Issue dated September 19, 2011)