From working as a peon to building $1.36B empire, the story of India's Fevicol Man


This is the story of Balvant Parekh, one of the first-generation entrepreneurs of post-independence India. Known widely as the Fevicol Man, Balvant launched Pidilite Industries in 1959, a company that went on to become synonymous with adhesives in the Indian market. His initial journey of building the company was, however, fraught with struggles and hardships.

Image: Forbes

Born in Mahuva, a small town situated in Gujarat's Bhavnagar district, Balvant went to Mumbai to study law. Leaving his studies midway, he jumped into the Quit India Movement, launched by Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat. After staying in his hometown and participating in different social activities over the next year, he came back to Mumbai and finished his education.

Once he had a lawyer's degree, Balvant was reluctant to practise law, owing to the amount of lies the profession demanded. Life in Mumbai was difficult, as he had to initially work at a dyeing and printing press, and later join a wood trader’s office as a peon. He lived in a warehouse along with his wife, reports Desh Gujarat.

Eventually, with the help of an investor who recognised the talent in his business skills, Balvant started importing cycle, areca nut, paper dyes from western countries, and eventually launched his own company supported by his younger brother Sushil Parekh. This company, named Pidilite Industries, was started with just one factory, manufacturing a single product, Fevicol.

Over years, Fevicol built a monopoly in the adhesive space, a glue carpenters would swear by. The other two flagship brands launched by Pidilite, Feviquick and M-Seal, too went on to build around 70 percent market shares each, making Pidilite synonymous with adhesives in India.

Since 2006, the brand focused on international expansion, with factories set up in the US, Thailand, Dubai, Egypt and Bangladesh. The company also built a research centre in Singapore. With clever advertising campaigns, Pidilite Industries took a seemingly unexciting product and made it into a top brand.

An ardent philanthropist, Balvant founded two schools, a college and a hospital in Mahuva, his hometown. He also started the Darshak Foundation, an NGO that studies the cultural history of Gujarat. He also made a generous donation of Rs 2 crore towards Bhavnagar’s science city project, and established Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences.

Balvant Parekh passed away in 2013, at the age of 88. The previous year in October, he was ranked Number 45 on Forbes Asia’s India Rich List with a family fortune of $1.36 billion.

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