mahesh-kent-roHow do you define the word ‘leadership’ when it comes to shepherding a business?47.jpbl-pageg
According to me, a leader should know his work well. It’s a sum total of being responsible and being disciplined. Leadership is about making people say, ‘I will walk on water for you’. It is about creating a precious dream and helping people achieve it. My technological edge over the competitor has helped me to be on top. Robert Kennedy summed up leadership best when he said, “Others see things as they are and wonder why; I see them as they are not and say why not?” I always think about my work and products which keep me going. You should be your own competition, not the world.

What is the toughest challenge you have faced in building this brand?
Giving up my job and starting my own venture was itself a huge challenge. The thought of quitting half-way occurred to me and I was beginning to question the relevance of the product.
However, at the same time I had the will to carry on and continue since I believed that the product could work if I gave it enough time. I named my company Kent RO Systems with a strong belief that RO was the system which would differentiate us in the market.
I had very little knowledge of the market and even less idea of selling a product. This was the toughest challenge. On the other hand, my competitor was just the opposite. They knew everything about the industry and a market inroad was proving extremely difficult. But what worked was that the people who used our product recommended it to friends and family and slowly, the word started to spread. But I always believed in my product and that’s why I am standing here today.

How central are people or employees to a brand?
A true leader always believes in team work. For me, my team and employees are as important as my brand is. They have also contributed in good measure to create this brand. Every individual has his own way of thinking. Our young team brings a fresh air of change and contemporary thinking to the table. I have experience and they have fresh ideas and knowledge. We need a combination of both to succeed and that’s how the young people become leaders.

What is the first thing that strikes a consumer’s mind when he/ she thinks of the brand? How do you make this clear through your brand communication?
We have always believed in healthy and safe living. Our Tagline says,“AB HAR PARIVAR SWASTH KENT SE (Now, each family is healthy, courtesy Kent)”. This is at the core of each and every effort made at Kent towards product development. Our consumer recall also echoes the same.
Our brand communication is a 360-degree campaign which tries to tap the untapped audiences through our TVCs and ad campaigns. All our campaigns are centred around the core concept of staying healthy. In our latest campaign, actress Hema Malini asks people to take a pledge to drink safe and pure water.

What’s the annual turnover of the brand and where do you see things five years down the line? Please throw some light on the market share too.
Kent RO is a $100 million player and we expect to touch $167 million within the next two years. We are steady in our quest for the number one spot in this industry. We are sure of getting there before five years. The water purifier market is likely to touch $1.17 billion by 2016. The reasons are that the sector is increasingly becoming organised and that the demand for water purifiers have seen a massive increase in the last couple of years. The industry is largely driven by RO and gravity purifiers which are in demand. The market for ultra violet purifiers is shrinking and mainly limited to institutional sales. If we talk about the RO segment, Kent is the undisputed leader with a 40 per cent market share.

Steering such a company is never easy. How do you work on your concentration levels? And what do you do to relax?
Yes, it is very stressful but my work is my passion. So it’s never a tiring task for me. I am a very spiritual person. I meditate and pray to relax myself.

In spite of the talent and wherewithal being there, Indians can’t boast of iconic brands like Google or Apple. Where do you think we go wrong?
Indians have a huge bank of knowledge. We have also created some magnificent brands. I will not agree with your assertion that we haven’t created iconic brands. Before Google, the big thing was Hotmail and it was created by an Indian. I cannot comment on where we lack but yes, there are some basic amenities or technologies we do not have access to unlike the west. Maybe these factors come to play spoilsport.