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Turning the roughest sea to their advantage! | Ashutosh Gujarathi

A story on Pune’s famed Gujarathi Business Empire, and its intrepid owner Mr Ashutosh Gujarathi!

If it’s about business, the Gujarathi will go to any extent- unless it affects those around him. If it does, they try and change things such that the business continues, and everyone profits from the activity! That’s the Gujarathi for you. Ever in business and happy as hell to be in business!

Welcome to the world of the Gujarathi Empire of Pune, a leading name in vessel chartering and break-bulk shipping that, in a brief period of three years from 2018, has created more than a niche for itself in this highly lucrative and specialized field. When the world thought the pandemic had done them for good, this group lay silently waiting for better days. It was to come in 2021 with the despatched of 500000 (5 lacs) tons of coal from Australia, South Africa and Indonesia to India’s east and west coast to quench India’s increasing thirst for coal to power its thermal power plants. As late as September 2022, they have carried bagged rice cargoes from East and West Africa for Adani Wilmar, Arbel and Renuka Sugar. Overall, they have done 4 lac tons of bagged rice exports in the year using vessels ranging between 35000 and 50000 DWT.

A consummate player in the field, they are a formidable name in the field of cargoes that includes iron ore from India’s east & west coast to Chile, and from Gabon to China. They have frequently imported various items, including gypsum, clinker, limestone and minerals, to Bangladesh and India, besides salt, steel and clinker from India’s west coast to the west coast of Africa, China and countries in the Mediterranean region. Diversifying their offering, they recently started break-bulk, project cargoes and RORO shipments for various clients worldwide.

Quiz Mr Gujarathi on this stupendous success in such a short while, and pat comes the reply. Excellent service…every time! The Gujarathi Empire Group says Mr Ashutosh Gujarathi treats everyone well, whether vessel owners or shipper-customers. They source vessels from their massive network for vessel chartering and ship-broking, including their own office in Singapore, Dubai and important parts of the US, and agreements with some of the most known entities in other vital centres, including Turkey and Indonesia. Put together, they get to source vessels registered under various worldwide registries that give them unparalleled access to the best vessels under the best terms for their customers worldwide.

Speaking of customers, they serve the likes of Adani Wilmar, Renuka Sugar, ITC, Tata Minerals, JSW, and Olam Agro. Breakbulk and chartering being specialized fields compared to containerized shipping, the Gujarathi Empire Group deputes its teams to handhold and guide customers right from understanding their needs, getting the suitable vessels, loading/ offloading cargo to delivering relevant documents. These days, the appreciable difference in freight costs between break-bulk and containers sees an increasing number of shippers making a beeline to their office.

Helping them in their activity is also their in-house transport division with its fleet of specialized vehicles, which incidentally they inherited from the family’s business that existed before Mr Ashutosh joined the fold. In all, and in the Indian context, the Gujarathi Empire Group has been giving its clients the following specialized services:

–  Access to open tonnages/ ships to call Indian Ports and match bulk shipment dates.

–  Ability to handle and operate volumes like 10,000/ 25,000/50,000 MTs in vessel chartering mode

–  In smaller packages, handling break bulk with other shippers for the same or different destinations for parcel sizes between 500 to 5000 MTs.

–  Messaging to clients about space availability on different vessels calling Indian Ports

–  In-house technical team to handle all pre-fix and post-fix operations on behalf of shipper/receiver/charterer.

–  End-to-end solutioning, including moving cargoes within the port, clearing thru customs, collecting freight, and keeping a close watch on loading operations, including post- load analysis of vessel demurrage and despatch using automated means.

Business for the Gujarathi Empire Group has been a way of life for over three decades now. Before break-bulk and shipping, transportation saw them own and operate an entire fleet of trucks. Having experienced shipping in its most demanding operational form and with a high degree of success, the group has ambitious plans of operating and selling space on its vessels under arrangement with foreign funding. It shall bring their operations and business a quantum jump in volumes and types of cargoes and technicalities in loading, unloading and vessel handling. Besides, they intend to tap the South American markets of Brazil and Argentina for a variety of cargo moving between South and North America and the rest of the world.

Sitting behind his desk, Mr Ashutosh has a smile of satisfaction from seeing his enterprise go in the right direction. He entered the business after leaving his seafaring job as a Class I technical officer on merchant vessels. His last assignment was aboard a crude-oil carrier. A B.Tech Marine Engineer, he had had a short but eventful stint at sea. He thus knows the moods of the sea, and those of shipments that go by sea. Using these, he built an empire starting in 2018 when he entered the family business upon the demise of its founder and his father, the Late Mr. Harendra Kumar Gujarathi. The first two years went by with hardly any activity- typical when one lays the foundation. With experience in place, things started to happen, and in the thick of the pandemic when everyone everywhere was down and out. For them, it was boom time! Today, they are an established name in shipping in India and worldwide! That apart, the group also has interests in information technology (IT) and their own NGO, the “Kumar Gujarathi Foundation”, which works for social causes.

Success didn’t come to them on a platter. Yes, there was a playing field, but it was beset with its own set of issues. Where the group differed from the rest was in riding the down-turn and being there when everyone else ran for cover- precisely what Mr Gujarathi states as his success mantra. “Never give up. Even when you feel there’s nothing left and that you have hit rock bottom and want to return to a job, remember that if you have the right experiences and tools, the only way you go when you work hard is up! Never give us, come what may.”

That for you is Mr Ashutosh and Gujarathi Business Empire. Experience has taught them that if a wave takes you down, it’s just a question of time before it takes you up! What it calls for is a keen eye and shiploads of patience.

Contact No: 9860040552
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M Purushoutham

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