MAN OF DISTINCT VISION – BAIJU GOPALAN
Meet the giant in business, Mr. Baiju Gokulam. He is the man who made all the difference to Gokulam Group of companies under the impeccable leadership of his great father Mr. Gokulam Gopalan. This man, undoubtedly, has spearheaded this entire empire to success and is till thriving for the superior. Holding his roots concrete, feet firm on the ground, and goals set in the skies, every aspect of his work is an extension of his personality as a winner. He did schooling in Asan Memorial and did his MBA Finance in United Kingdom. Whole family is located in Chennai. He is the Vice Chairman for the Gokulam Group of companies, Executive Director for the Gokulam Chit Funds, Vice Chairman, Global President of IWCC.
About how the legacy started.
I was born in Vadakara in Calicut district. My mom came to our home town just for my delivery, and we returned to Chennai after 6 months of my birth. I think everyone has their own unique journey to claim, their own ups and downs. My father was in the medical field in Chennai then, at Mylapore. And in 1968, he started a chit company in a small way and was registered in 1972 as Sree Gokulam Chit & Finance C. Pvt. Ltd. There are 32 branches today in Chennai alone and 330 branches all over India. Gokulam Group of companies runs a turnover of around of 6000 crores a year now. All of our family members focus our strength and skills into this company for its growth.
I was good in accounting and maths, that’s why I took finance for MBA. I was, infact, planning to endeavour into IT. Later I had to take up the opportunity to spearhead our family business. In 1993, when I decided to enter our business, we were at 25 branches. I resolved to computerise the whole system, so that we rely less on manpower. It took around 5 years for me to study and the implement atomization. Previously where 10 staff used to be deployed in a branch, today we just need 2 of them. We transferred potential people to the new branches that sprung. By 2000, all branches were successfully computerised and we could leap up further with more branches.
My father is my biggest inspiration and Guru. What I did right after entering into business is to computerise the whole branches, as I said, and then to buff up the entire system for more sophistication. I feel extremely humble to have helmed this to triumph.
About the exceptional growth of the group.
We diversified into hospitality 30 years ago from Chennai. We started Bharat Restaurant at Ashok Nagar. I used to go and sit at the restaurant in the evenings after school. I am the eldest child in my family. I could feel the spark of entrepreneurship from then. After a decade or so, we planned to open our first classified 4 star hotel in Cochin, at the property now at Kaloor. Sarovar ensures the food standards, promotion and inspection of quality for us.
Under Gokulam Hotels India Private Ltd., they have this dazzling array of hotels named : Gokulam Park (4 star), Kochi, Gokulam Sabarai Convention Centre, Kochi, Gokulam Park, Chennai, Gokulam Vanamala, Guruvayur, Gokulam Sabari Classic- OMR- Chennai, Gokulam Nalanda Resorts, Nileswaram, Gayathri International, Kozhikode, Gokulam Residency, Amballur, Thrissur, Malabar Fort, Thalassery, Gokulam Park, Doha and Clarion, Coimbatore.
We took onboard a veteran blending master from Brooke Bond, when we diversified again into Gokulam Tea production. We have our factory at Valsarvakkom in Chennai. We don’t do any colouring in our tea and make sure it blends perfectly with the taste palettes of Kerala and other parts where we sell. We thought of adding our contribution in elevating the upcoming generation, hence our venture into education field. We have 5 Sree Gokulam Public schools in Kerala now, where we genuinely participate in moulding the children for tomorrow. It’s been eight years that we started our first medical college, Sree Gokulam Medical College & Research Foundation, Venjaaramoodu, Thiruvananthapuram. We are rebuilding and renovating a hospital at Trivandrum now.
The brand name Holy Aqua, for drinking water, is something that we operate out of our unit in Chalakkudy, Kerala and successfully distribute in Kerala, Coimbatore and Chennai. We are planning a supermarket in Dubai and will be opening as early as April this year. On April 4th, we are launching a channel called Flowers, where Mr. Sreekandan Nair is the MD. Under that we run an institution called MediaCity which will cater to all moulding and teaching of media related activities.
Gokulam movies has produced quite a handful of quality movies like Athisayan, Nakka Penta Nakka Taka and PazhassiRaja. A movie is yet to be released named Thilothama. We are in talks with Mr. IV Sasi and Mohanlal for a new movie project. There our upcoming mall project that’s coming up at Mavoor Road, Calicut.
Challenges that he faced and sharing his personal stride.
My father had given me complete freedom and trusted on my repertoire. He was always there to guide me and to get me back on track whenever I derail. However you have got to create your own style and be like no one else. Innovate, develop and deploy the best you could. We were the pioneers in computerising a chit company, back in those times. It was a vision when I decided to do that. Every day we face challenges. It is to understand, analyse, and to overcome that is something that we promptly do. Our very prompt response and very genuine relationships in chits has got us this very unique element on acquiring a tag of “no-complaint company” in this long span of 50 years. We make sure our customers are delighted by our services. Our very sturdy foundation of building business over this half a century has made our base and clientele so strong. We always travel in a very ethical and legal way of doing business, so that we can sleep peacefully. However, as we always say, it’s indeed a bit challenging to run business in Kerala. No business is as easy as it sounds; I would like to aspire and strive to become the No.1 group in India.
I love sports. I’m a regular in badminton, squash and swimming while I am in Chennai. I do aerobics. I feel much relaxed and distressed when I work-out and sweat. I travel two weeks a month. Other major interests remain in business and family. Very few of our relatives are in Ernakulam and Thrissur.
Under Gokulam Research Foundation, we take care of more than a 100 parents who are abandoned by their families or children. Around a thousand students are being actively supported in finishing their education. Numerous activities happen through All India Malayalee Assocation, where my father is a chairman. SreeNarayana Guru Dharmavedi does a lot of micro-financing for those who struggle to start up something on their own, including ladies.
An epitome of being a winner in life, Mr. Baiju Gopalan has bagged the Young Entrepreneur’s Award by British Parliament in 2004, Thriprayar Jacees Zone Xx in the business field on 2004, Calicut beach Lions Club Award, Pravasi Bharathi Udyog Patra Award for Social work in 2007, Young Achiever’s Award 2007 by Junior Chamber International- India Zone, to name a few.
His wife is inclined creatively to fine arts, she loves painting and drawing. He has a daughter and lives with his parents at Chennai.