Success Stories

Failures are the pillars of success - MD

06 December 2015

Failures can become the pillars of success when they correctly identify where and what went wrong and take measures to correct it. But if they get discouraged and give up everything there wont’ be any progress.

Managing Director Asian Chill Equipments (Pvt) Ltd Vajira K Silva is an example of the first category.

He was interviewed by Daily News Business.

“I totally failed in everything at the beginning , but I realized my mistake and corrected it later. I manufactured everything that I wanted but not what my customers wanted.

“That was the mistake I made. However, today I am a successful businessman manufacturing all types of refrigerated display cases, warm cabinets and hotel and supermarket equipment with a monthly turnover of four to five million rupees.

 

Refrigeration Course

Silva is the eldest son in a family of nine children. He studied at Science College, Mount Lavinia. My father wanted me to be a doctor but he was shocked by my poor Advanced Level results and I had to give up the idea.

While I was upset about this I got the opportunity to follow a refrigeration course by chance.

In the meantime, one of my brothers died due to food poisoning which was another setback for me.

This prodded me to continue in this field and find a solution for food poisoning by the application of refrigeration principles.

“I obtained practical training on refrigeration and started working as a refrigeration technician in a private company called DK Electronics,” he said.

 

Huge Potential

Silva went to Saudi Arabia and worked for six years. On his return to Sri Lanka he set up a workshop of his own at Rawatawatta with two people to repair and maintain air conditioners where he identified that there was a huge potential for bakery and supermarket equipment.

After three years, in 1996 he moved to Templers Road and improved the facilities at the factory and started manufacturing very advanced equipment. Unfortunately he could not sell even one unit a month. All his customers wanted very simple machines at a cheaper price.

“I totally failed and could not repay the bank loan and the bank cancelled my bank guarantee. I met the Chairman of the Bank and he gave me one last chance. With the help of my wife I started marketing the products and gradually started the business again.

“It was a very hard time. I had to do almost everything myself. I realized that there was something amiss although I had innovative ideas.

It was management. Thereafter I followed some business management courses and improved my skills.

 

Main Products

In 2000 his company shifted to a hundred perch land at the Ratmalana Industrial Zone and expanded the business. He developed a brand for his products as Asparai.

He has provided employment to fifty people in the company. Some of his products are exported to Maldives, Kerala and Chennai indirectly at present.

The product range includes five main products such as meat and Fish Display Units and short eats and Cake display units. There are five sub products too.

The Eutectic Freezer is one of his innovative products for three wheelers to transport and store ice cream.

 

Untapped Market

Asked about the barriers, he said that the market has dropped by fifty present due to recession.

Moreover, there are low quality imported products coming to the market. There must be some encouragement for local SMEs as the market in the north east is now open.

There is also a huge untapped market in India for these products and we can earn much foreign exchange if we tap this market, he said.

Silva won the Western Province Silver Award in 2006 and 2007 at the Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the Year Award Ceremony and Industrial Excellence Award 2007 organised by the Chamber of Small Industries. He will receive the ISO 14000 certification this year.

His future plan is to become the largest exporter in South Asia by 2012 and gain a 50 percent local market share becoming the national business leader in the field.

He is determined to make an effective contribution to avert a food crisis in South Asia and provide cost effective innovative solutions to preserve hygienic conditions of food.

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