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HomeBUSINESSA Freedom Fighter, Peon, & Trader, How Balvant Parekh Created Fevicol's Billion-Dollar...

A Freedom Fighter, Peon, & Trader, How Balvant Parekh Created Fevicol’s Billion-Dollar Empire

Fevicol is synonymous with adhesive in India. Whenever something breaks, we often say use Fevicol to stick it back. The adhesive has been in the business since 1959. And we know how popular it is- be it a Bollywood song, or the iconic catchphrases Fevicol ads use. Passing the test of time, it has stuck with us.

But this popularity was not an overnight success.

Balvant Parekh, the founder of the iconic white and blue Fevicol, had his share of ups and downs.

Born in Mahuva, Bhavnagar, Balvant’s parents wanted him to become a lawyer.

This was also the time when the country was fighting for freedom. Like many other students, Balvant left his studies midway and joined the Freedom struggle. But he got back later and got his law degree from Government Law College, Mumbai. He cleared the bar exams. However, he never practised law.

Without a job in hand, he married Kantaben. He started working in a dyeing and printing press in Mumbai. That did not work out and he switched jobs. He started working as a peon. With meagre resources, Balvant and his wife used to stay in the warehouse.

Right after the Independence, there was a huge fillip for Indian industries. The country needed more swadeshi goods and industries.

In 1954, Parekh and his brother, Sushil, started trading and manufacturing dye and industrial chemicals, and pigment emulsions in Mumbai named Parekh Dyechem Industries. Prior to this, he had started his import venture where he started importing cycle, areca nut, and paper dyes from western countries.

Balvant saw how carpenters were using fat to join wood. There wasn’t any adhesive in the country they could swear by. And he wanted to change that.

Fate happened and Balvant had to visit Germany for a month. He started buying more stocks of a German firm, Fedco, with which he had a fifty per cent partnership. He made a glue named Favicol. The suffix -col is a German word which means anything which bonds two things. Fit for his glue.

Balvant’s younger brother, Narendra, completed his studies and joined his brother’s firm. The firm was later renamed as Pidilite Industries in 1959 manufacturing just a single product, Fevicol.

Back then the country sold unbranded adhesives and Fevicol managed to establish its monopoly.

From just a single product, Pidilite now manufactures products across verticals such as art materials and stationery; food and fabric care; car products, adhesives, and sealants; and speciality industrial products like adhesives, pigments; textile resins, leather chemicals, and construction chemicals.

Something which we all remember are the iconic Fevicol TVCs.

With a fortune of $1.36 billion, Balvant featured at Number 45 on Forbes Asia’s India Rich List 2013.

He passed away in January 2013. He was 88. From just one office in Mumbai, Balvant’s Pidilite now has 14 overseas subsidiaries. The company has factories in the US, Thailand, Dubai, Egypt and Bangladesh. They also have a research center in Singapore.

From a child in Mahuva, to a freedom fighter, a peon, a trader, and finally a business tycoon, India’s Fevicol Man has a lot to tell.

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