Mission 501: Looking Forward
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown and disruptions gave the group a chance to consider both their future and their past. The RM Group chairman Mahendra Kumar Jain rolled out Mission 501, a nod towards the popular nickname by which Babulalji Jain was known in social circles and especially in the city of Bhopal. Mission 501 is slated to unfold over the next five years, till 2025, with the group focusing on developing new verticals while acquiring leadership positions in existing operations.
It is also a clarion call to develop the business beyond the family circle while retaining the values that brought them success in the first place. Rakesh Jain says, “There is no end to the money that can be made but that’s not the only benchmark for achievement. We directly support two thousand five hundred families through our employees – five thousand, if you count transporters, vendors, contractors, service providers and so on. Over the years, through local hiring, engagement and business we have created an ecosystem that is slowly expanding, and it’s important to make sure that it continues and is sustained. It takes a lot of time, perseverance and hard work to keep it on track, and very little to derail it. Our target is to double this ecosystem every five years.”
It’s not an easy task. “The more we grow, the more we are answerable and accountable to an even greater number of people,” he continues. “We had a very strong foundation with what we inherited, and after the agency, our next big milestone was the foray into manufacturing. Launching Mission 501 is a crucial moment and will define our direction for the coming twenty-five to thirty years.”
Although targets for the business are set through their top line, there are key decisions that can define whether this makes the ecosystem larger as well. “We have many options to diversify, but within them, we need to find the right synergies. For instance, if we enter the service industry, we will add more people. We have been manufacturers and distributors for years now, and we feel that the time is right to develop a B2C brand. We have already been doing this in a small way with RM Phosphates.”
Though their manufacturing has always been in the detergent segment, the group is now considering newer verticals, like food processing and pharma. “But our biggest strength is man management,” says Rakesh. “We’re able to retain people and include them in our growth, so we’re considering service industries as well.”
Talking about the steps that they have already taken to prepare themselves for this new phase, Rakesh mentions that the first round of restructuring started in April 2019, when the family gathered for a conclave. “While COVID-19 was wreaking its havoc, we managed to plan and roll this idea out in October 2020. Changes were made so that family members would be paid in accordance with their profile, responsibility and performance. The next step would be to protect the business and establish processes to reduce its dependency on any specific person, so that it would be system-driven rather than driven by persons. These transformations can be challenging, especially as decision-making and follow-up needs to change all the way from the top to the bottom. Seniors and heads of department become accountable and open to questioning. The other challenge is that every part of this huge business family needs to be committed to this vision. It’s a tough balancing act, especially as the younger generation has ambitions and aspirations that may have to take a back seat for a while.”
Mahendra Jain is sure they are on the right track. “It was important for us to call this Mission 501 because it reminds us of when we started to truly grow. So far, we have been a family-based enterprise, but now we want to establish a business that can survive without the family but continues its legacy,” he says. “It’s not just about the money. The values, the ethics are what should propel the business culture. They are the true wealth of this company, and they should be held by a group of trustees who will put a system in place and ensure they are carried forward, regardless of whether the family is involved or not. That’s the legacy we want to leave for the coming generations.”