SCENT OF SUCCESS ; Dr Viju Jacob
The Story of the Spice King Who Anchored the Extraordinary Growth of Synthite, Dr Viju Jacob
In our lives, we often come across a few who influence us with their words of advice; here is a person who has inspired and motivated us and is still doing so by being himself and always working towards achieving his goals. Employees at Synthite, as well as everyone who comes into contact with Dr Viju Jacob, will vouch for this. Without doubt, he is a man of action and a silent motivator.
A small firm that began with 20 employees in 1972 has grown to be one of the renowned names in the world of spice extract companies. Stepping into the 50th year, Synthite Industries towers over the rest of the manufacturers thanks to its varied offerings. We present Dr Viju Jacob, the managing director of Synthite Industries Ltd., the world’s largest producer of value-added spices.
Spices have always been an irreplaceable factor in Indian cuisines. And our country continues to be the world’s biggest producer of spices. Synthite, which is today the largest supplier of Spice Oils and Oleoresins in the world, was established by C V Jacob in Kolenchery in 1972. For Dr Viju Jacob, the desire for excellence started right from his childhood. After schooling in Kochi, he moved to Thiruvananthapuram to pursue his graduation. His father, the visionary and founder of Synthite Industries Limited, C V Jacob, wanted him to grow up with independence and develop himself. After graduating in economics and then pursuing commerce at Sacred Hearts College, Thevara, he stepped into his father’s business, helping him get a foundation in the principles of business from an early age.
Not long after joining Synthite, his father gave him the first independent assignment when he was tasked with expanding the business to Australia. He took it as an opportunity to develop his marketing acumen. Soon he finalised a tie-up with an agency that had been extremely successful in the Australian market. Out of his two major achievements, the first one was introducing spice oleoresins and spice powders into the Indian market, thereby raising it to the Rs 500 crore per annum level, and the second was establishing and developing the flower extraction business of Synthite. Today, Synthite exports Marigold oleoresins, Jasmine absolutes and other such products to the major perfumery brands around the world.
Even though it meant missing out on a lot of opportunities, Viju’s dad had this philosophy of committing to one project at a time, nurturing it well before moving on to the next. His father was very particular about the integrity and quality of whatever he endeavoured into. They took time and effort to identify the right projects and to understand their core strengths. If there is one thing Synthite never takes for granted, it is the quality of its products. The company follows strict quality-management practices and has a multi-layered quality control system that begins at the farming stage.
Along with spice and flavour trade with Viju’s initiative, Synthite dived into the hospitality industry by establishing a tourist resort that boasts of its 5-star deluxe recognition today and another apartment hotel, both in Cochin. Since its inception in 1972, Synthite has been successfully growing through all these years adding more and more products and services. Synthite offers more than 500 different varieties of products to its customers. In 2012, spice powders were launched in Kerala’s retail market with the brand name, ‘Kitchen Treasures’. Under Viju’s leadership, Synthite is today one of the leading business corporations in Kerala with an annual turnover of over Rs 2500 crore.
Other than managing the multiple business chain, he is also committed to helping the needy. The company also takes care of its employees by providing assistance in constructing houses and meeting medical expenses. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities of Synthite are conducted under the auspices of CV J Foundation, which spends Rs 5 lakh every week towards medical treatment for deserving patients. Such help is extended not only to the employees and their relatives but also to deserving people outside the company. The foundation also sponsors the education of hundreds of students. In a unique initiative, the Foundation became the first to insure 7,000 families from a whole panchayath.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Synthite made a contribution of Rs 1 crore to the Kerala CM’s relief fund. Synthite had also donated Rs 60 lakh to the same fund in 2018 & 2019 for flood relief. On its own, Synthite has undertaken relief activities to the tune of Rs 40 lakh by means of distributing PPE kits, sanitisers and masks among employees of the company, district hospital administration staff and police department during 2020. Recently, Viju has donated Rs 10 lakh to the Covid Apex Centre set up by the Government of Kerala at PVS Hospital in Kochi. Essential provisions kit worth Rs 5 lakh was donated to cyclone-affected people in Chellanam, Kochi.
Viju also initiated a vigorous vaccination campaign, aimed at vaccinating all the employees of Synthite and a section of the general public from poor socio-economic background. Five thousand doses of COVAXIN were procured from Bharat Biotech and administered to the eligible beneficiaries free of charge.
Synthite has bagged numerous achievements including the First National Award for Outstanding Export Performance in the year 1984-85 from the President of India. Since then, he has been bagging many recognitions from the Spices Board of India and other prestigious organisations. He will be honoured with Multimillionaire Business Achiever (MBA) Award 2021 for his contribution and success in the field of business, in a grand event conducting on November 2021.
Top management’s compassion for employees has long been a hallmark of the Synthite culture. All employees are respected for their job and the directors can be approached by anyone who works for the company. Employees are not only encouraged to excel in their jobs but also given every support to foster their personal growth.
As mentioned earlier, the quality of Synthite’s products is something the company never takes for granted. Synthite’s quality control is not limited to the criteria in the client specification; it also adheres to the regulations of the importing country. The standardisation of the product and the constancy of supplies are essential factors in the success of the company. When a business sustainability plan is in place, this becomes achievable. Synthite believes that the guiding principles for its sustainability objective should be consumer centred while also being environment friendly.
A spiritual approach is at the bottom of it all. Prayers are an important part of Dr Viju Jacob’s life. He is a believer who has no doubt that God has played an important role in his success. Each and every day of his life begins with a prayer. He makes sure that all of his important business decisions and meetings start with prayers. He acknowledges that the proper words and thoughts come to him when the meeting begins with prayers.
In every successful person’s life, family plays a pivotal role and for Dr Viju Jacob his family is the source of happiness and stress relief. He is married to Mrs Mini and the couple are blessed with two children: Mrs Neelam Varghese and Mrs Neethi Varghese. Whenever he talks about his success, he gives credit to his family and his entire team for their immense support and hard work.
Dr Viju Jacob believes that facing obstacles in the field of business is a part of the process and makes sure that he or his colleagues are never demotivated by the hurdles or any setbacks. His mantra: “Learn from your mistakes and overcome the failures with a bright smile so that no one can let you down. Always share your knowledge with others rather than keep it to yourself.”