Harwinder Singh believes in chasing small, achievable dreams than grandiose illusions
Meet Harwinder Singh Dhiman, known by several nicknames - Kaka, Harry, Dhiwar, among others. As someone who grew up and studied in Punjab, he takes great pride in belonging to the Sikh community. "Sikhs are the best community in the world and I’m proud to come from Punjab, where there are beautiful hills and no water shortage."
He says that people have this false notion that Punjabis only eat Makki Ki Roti and Sarson Ka Saag. Delving into the history of traditional Punjabi cuisines, he says that until the foreigners brought wheat to India, cornbread was the staple diet for Punjabis. In the villages, where people don't have access to refined oil, they used mustard oil and ghee. "Mustard is extremely useful because it is used for making Saag and you also use it to feed animals.”
His everyday routine is to wake up at 5:30 AM and after getting dressed, he responds to queries on Facebook. "People and a business are depending on me, and that motivates me to get out of bed early in the morning." By 9:30 AM, he leaves for work where he answers various business calls and motivates people, after which he assigns work. As the owner of Roop Traders, Harwinder handles most of the design, marketing and procurement himself. "If any product needs innovative or special design, or if there's an increased demand for any product, I take care of it."
As a child, he always dreamt of having a car and so when he had the means, the first thing he did was to buy one. Harwinder believes it's better to dream and achieve what is within your scope rather than having false illusions created in your mind. "Thank God there's not one thing I couldn't achieve, because there's a method to it. You can be 20 times more than your present capacity, not 1,000 times. It's better to have small dreams that you can achieve and not big illusions that you can’t.” He says that while 50 percent of his dreams have been achieved, another 50 percent is something he is working towards.
In 2010, Harwinder foresaw a profitable opportunity in gas cutting and started off with two cylinders. Although he had to hear ‘no’ from several suppliers over the decade, today, his business owns 700 cylinders and they currently focus on solar products. One of the biggest challenges he faces in the business, among labour and material, is huge purchase orders. "Clients pay in instalments, and that's a challenge in the solar industry as you need a lot more money to get things rolling," he says.
He says that the current policies are only favourable for big government vendors and not for businesses like his. "Government vendors don't have timelines, especially when it comes to complying with DCR (Domestic Content Requirement). There is too much competition, so it's difficult to thrive."
If given a chance to teach in schools, he would talk about the importance of work and how one should be a grassrooter and not a parachuter, as a grassrooter always goes up whereas a parachuter only goes towards the ground. He adds that children born into rich families shouldn't just stick to joining the family business or profession, but choose a different path or think out of the box. "If you have to take care of your father's business and it's currently a Rs 100 crore business, try and find out ways to make it double. Become an innovative grassrooter."
Emphasising on the importance of creating a sustainable tomorrow, Harwinder says we should work towards creating renewable resources and leave exemplary footprints that the future generations can follow.
When asked what movie describes his life right now, he replies, "Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year". Success for Harwinder is when your needs are met and you can sleep properly. While he has no particular role model, Harwinder looks up to anyone in the industry who is doing remarkably well in their field.
He would love to have dinner with Elon Musk someday and his advice to future entrepreneurs is simple - "Work hard and pay your taxes, so that you can improve your nation."