These are two excerpts from the book ‘How Sindhis Do Business – Paiso’ by Maya Bathija. These reflect the business mindset of one of the Fabiani Brothers, Harish. Harish Fabiani, who was India’s first individual angel investor and chairman of Americorp Group today, started out in business with his brother Kamal, importing electronics into Spain, where he was settled at the time.
The first excerpt reflects the fast thinking and smart planning of Harish Fabiani, which created a stir in the market. His sharp decisions helped the Fabiani brothers to secure a position among the top businessmen. Further, it shows why he chose not to stop and started expanding his business in newer markets of Europe. The second one talks about post-expansion and describes how Harish grabbed the market with the help of his soft skills. It shows how everyone wanted to do business with them just because of the trust built.
“For the Fabiani brothers, work always took precedence over everything else. They were now growing their market with goods from Japan and the US too, importing brands such as Pioneer and Panasonic, along with generic music systems, telephones, wireless telephones, etc. Their business was definitely galloping ahead faster than the rest of the market. At the time, very few had created the growth they had. Capital-wise, they were very strong and were able to handle more volumes. Over the years, they introduced more branded items into their electronics range.
From 1984, the business remained stable for another three or four years, but in 1988, a large trader who used to buy a lot of merchandise from many importers, including the Fabiani brothers, created a stir. The brothers heard a vague rumour that he was going to default on payments worth $40 million owed to people across the market, including themselves, and was liquidating some of his merchandise in order to flee the situation. Thirty years ago, $40 million was a large amount. The trader owed the brothers $2 million. Time was of the essence, as it was Christmas time and all sales were at a high. The Fabiani credit in the market was at its highest, and the situation looked pretty grim.
If the man planned to skip off by 5 January, the brothers would feel the tremors by February end. But they were sitting on a secret, and seizing the opportunity, they confronted the trader and managed to settle the matter. They also sidestepped part of the disaster by accepting his house worth over $1 million and retrieving some of their products from him. In the interim, they also got the names of their other clients whom the trader dealt with and squared off accounts with them too, thus reducing their risk in the market. Fast thinking and smart planning saved the day for the brothers. Harish was always the proverbial sharp Sindhi businessman.
All their other competitors were badly hit, and that created a domino effect, weakening the whole market. Motiram at this time warned them to go slow, but Harish, the strategist, had other plans. He wanted to be even more aggressive in the market because his Sindhi mind realized that they were in the strongest position to spread their wings. Harish expanded the business. This decision sent the Fabianis into the top bracket of the market.”
“By 1990, the Fabiani brothers had expanded exports to Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland and England. At that time Kamal and Harish were working together, one managing sales and the other the business side. Kamal turned out to be quite the salesperson; people thought he could even sell ice to an Eskimo. He was a good businessman, with an eye for the right pricing, and he could very easily procure the right merchandise. People loved doing business with him because they trusted him. He clearly understood a product’s market and its requirements. His people skills took him far, and he created lasting relationships for the company.
So while Harish could manage the product deals, personally dealing with suppliers like Panasonic, Aiwa and Sanyo, Kamal was instrumental in improving sales. This combination of skills helped them grow manifold and increased their sales volumes. Malls came into existence in the 1990s. Harish joined the bandwagon and started supplying to these ‘hypermarkets’, in spite of his margins being severely hit. He realized it was this was the beginning of the end for middlemen like him. Harish had a foreboding of things to come, which he felt in the pit of his stomach. He questioned the longevity of a business like his, in spite of it being at the top of the industry.
In 1995, he realized that he could not go on doing the business he was doing and gave himself five years’ time to regroup. He felt the train that he was on, though moving ahead powerfully, was heading towards a dead end. He realized that he would have to get off the train sooner than later and get onto another train headed towards something that would last him a lifetime. Harish saw the paradigm shift coming, and it proved to be the game changer in his life. He needed to diversify into something that would have a longer business run. At that time, he never thought he would come to India.
Though Harish had begun to make long-term plans, the year 1996 turned out to be an even bigger one than 1995. Turnovers soared, land banks grew, and at thirty-three, he felt he had the world in his palm.”
If you like Harish’s way of doing business and want to read more about him and other Sindhis’ ways of doing business, you can read the book; ‘How Sindhis Do Business – Paiso’ by Maya Bathija.