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Kolkata has turned many penniless dreamers into successful entrepreneurs

9 February, 2021 11:25:18
Kolkata has turned many penniless dreamers into successful entrepreneurs

Surajmal Jalan

Today his company has more than Rs 350 crore turnover. But one day he landed in this City of Joy penniless. But that was almost six decades ago. Linc Pens and Plastics Limited, the third largest pen manufacturer in the country was a fairytale handled well. It was Surajmal Jalan who landed in Kolkata from a rural Rajasthan. Born in 1938 at Lachhman Garhin Sikhar district of Rajasthan, Surajmal was the fifth among six siblings and literally had a childhood spent in hand-to-mouth existence.

After high school, he went to a college, 18 km away and travelling was difficult as the family could not give him travel expense. In 1957, at the age of 19, Surajmal decided to script his own destiny. Some of his friends used to stay in Kolkata and he heard this was the city that gave several business opportunities. As Surajmal once reminisced: “I had no money in my pocket when I left house. Somehow, I managed to buy a ticket for the third-tier general class and my family packed food for the journey.”

Surajmal took up his first job at a carpet showroom on Harrison Road and used to get a salary of Rs 60 and started living on the mezzanine floor of his workplace, bathed on the footpath and ate at roadside eateries. He quit the job after working for a year and joined a comb-manufacturing company and then joined a company based in Siliguri that owned a rice mill and tea gardens and was appointed as an assistant manager at a monthly payment of Rs 500.

In 1957, at the age of 19, Surajmal decided to script his own destiny. Some of his friends used to stay in Kolkata and he heard this was the city that gave several business opportunities. As Surajmal once reminisced: “I had no money in my pocket when I left house. Somehow, I managed to buy a ticket for the third-tier general class and my family packed food for the journey.”

In 1966, he again started from scratch. He bought pens with an investment of Rs 5,000 that he had saved from his jobs and began door-to-door selling. It was then that he realized there were no good quality pens in the country. He opened a retail counter for pens at Bagree Market. His in-laws, who hailed from Kolkata, came to his rescue. They had a small unused room of 10ft by 10ft and allowed him to start a factory. He invested Rs 10,000 and started making plastic parts for ball pens. The products became popular and now Surajmal dreamt of building his own brand. 

He realized his dream in 1976 when he established Linc Pen and Plastic by taking on rent a 700 sq ft office in the city at an investment of Rs 3 lakh. Linc or Link meant to connect. The journey of an entrepreneur never ended here. He visited shop after shop, walking for several kilometres to convince wholesalers and retailers to keep his products. He met customers and took their feedback. The business began to grow gradually and the company achieved a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore, when his elder son 17-year-old Deepak Jalan joined Linc pens in 1980 as a sales trainee.

Deepak Jalan, MD of Linc Pens

In 1966, Surajmal again started from scratch. He bought pens with an investment of Rs 5,000 that he had saved from his jobs and began door-to-door selling. It was then that he realized there were no good quality pens in the country. He opened a retail counter for pens at Bagree Market.

Later, to build a global presence for the brand, in 1986, Linc set up its first manufacturing unit at Serakole in South 24 Parganas at an investment of Rs 10 lakh. In 1992, the big boost came when Linc tied up with Mitsubishi Japan to become the exclusive distributors of Uni-ball pens in India and the same year made its first export of around Rs 12 lakh worth pens to South Korea.

The company had achieved a turnover of Rs 25 crore by 1995. That year the company got listed in the Mumbai and Kolkata Stock Exchange as well. The turnover increased to Rs 52 crore in the financial year 2000-2001. In 2005, the company launched the top-selling Linc Glycer. A year later, it opened Linc Stores, the retail face of the brand.

In 2009, the company started its production in its second manufacturing plant of around 33000 sq ft at Falta in south 24 Parganas with an investment of Rs 15 crore. Generations will keep running the business and making it bigger for sure, but the city that helped in the struggle of a budding entrepreneur will forever keep doing so, a city where dreams are made to happen. That’s Kolkata.

Story Tag:
  • Linc Pen

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