Self-confidence in business is all about knowing what you want, and believing that you can achieve it. Here’s a man who has proved this by taking the untrodden path and making it big. Meet RK Bansal, a self-made entrepreneur, under whose leadership Uniline Energy Systems has grown by leaps and bounds. Today, Uniline has many government and other prestigious projects to its credit and is growing each year. Founded in 1989, Uniline is run from a 1393.54 sq m, modern sales and service area in south Delhi. It has three factories with an inhouse R&D centre in New Delhi, and two large scale manufacturing units at Parwanoo, Himachal Pradesh. It has a strength of 300. With the aim to make India energy reliant by 2017, Bansal is planning to hire 150 youngsters who would take Uniline solutions to 50+ cities across India and overseas.
Needless to say, the reputation earned by Uniline has been possible due to the sheer grit and determination of RK Bansal, whose vision to bring advanced power solutions technologies to India has resulted in various innovations in the UPS systems space, which are now widely used across
In a chat with Nitasha Chawla of Electronics Bazaar, RK Bansal, managing director, Uniline Energy Systems, shares his journey, from an engineer and growing to become a successful leader.
I was an all rounder in school
We are a family of seven, which includes my parents, two brothers and two sisters. I was born in Samana district of Patiala, Punjab, in 1959. My father was a grain merchant and my mother was a homemaker. I was a very bright student in school and also good in sports. I used to play badminton and table tennis in school, and have also represented my school at state level tournaments. At the same time, I always made sure that my studies didn’t suffer; science and political science were my favourite subjects.
I have grown up in a middle class family, with my parents imbibing in me Indian cultural values. They taught me to value people and
relationships more than anything else in life. Today, when people have become materialistic and money focused, I have made sure that my children are also been inculcated with the same values that I was taught by my parents.
Back then, life was very different; it was not dependent on technology like it is today where gadgets have taken control over people’s lives. Books and interacting with people around us were the only source of knowledge as well as entertainment. And I enjoyed it that way, whereas I feel that today, the virtual world rules the life of people.
A humble beginning
I came to Delhi after completing a degree in electronics engineering from Kurukshetra University to join Televista, a company which doesn’t exist now. Then I shifted to Aplab and worked there for eight years. My stint with Aplab helped me attain knowledge in UPS systems and the power conditioning needs of the country. Although I enjoyed my work at Aplab, there was a sense of non-fulfillment. When you are an employee in an organisation, your growth is restricted to a certain level, but there
are no limitations to growth when you set up your own business. I always had the urge to move out of being in service and explore business opportunities. Since my wife had a government job, her income was sufficient to support the family. This gave me the courage to take the risk of starting the business I dreamt of with a meagre amount of Rs 19,000 as the capital—the money I received from my provident fund after leaving the job.
That is how, at the age of 28, I started Uniline Energy Systems as a small trading company in 1989—we used to sell UPS systems on a commission basis. I feel lucky that I never had to ask my family for any financial support to sustain myself in the business, unlike the usual practice by startups. In 1996, we entered the UPS manufacturing field and set up our first plant in Okhla in New Delhi. Uniline produced IGBT UPS systems initially, and then went on to manufacture online UPS systems. Gradually, we started increasing our capacity to manufacture UPS systems.
At present, we have two factories for UPS systems production and three factories in solar power, and offices practically in each state of India. Today, I take pride in saying that ever since its inception, Uniline has been growing each year without fail, which in itself is a big motivation for any business.
I adopted different ways to become a good entrepreneur
I never had a mentor in my life. When I started this company, all I had was the experience Aplab had given me as an engineer. But management is a different game altogether. In a business, one faces new challenges each day, therefore, I decided to study for an MBA from Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU) to gain knowledge about managing a business. Apart from studies, I kept myself updated about the industry through books and seminars. Besides, motivational books have helped me a lot in coping with difficult situations at work. I believe that there is no substitute for hard work, and along with hard work, ‘smart work’ is also required in building strong relationships with customers and employees, and I have always given due importance to them.
At Uniline, customer satisfaction is never compromised. For us, the most important thing is ethics, quality and service, and not money. This approach has helped the company to beat the foreign brands when it comes to timely delivery of the product, the quality of the product and the excellence in service. Today, with its own service network across India, Uniline has a clear edge over other UPS companies.
Projects and awards I am proud of
The sense of fulfillment that one gets from recognition is unmatched and motivates you a great deal. While Uniline has been felicitated with many awards over the years, the most satisfying award has been the one received from the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for the best ‘Self-made Entrepreneur’ in 2007.
It’s sheer hard work of the Uniline family as a whole that has helped the company to bag some prestigious projects like the AF Net Project of the Indian Air Force. This is considered as the biggest order in power electronics, which involved linking Air Force stations all over India and other important strategic locations. Uniline provided 5000 UPS systems for Air Force stations all over India, which could be monitored from a single centre. In 2010, we commissioned the government’s e-court project where Uniline supplied around 15,000 UPS systems all over India. The project has empowered and connected the Supreme Court with High Courts of all the states with uninterrupted power supply, thereby speeding up operations and trials. Another project we can boast of is the solar project in Rajasthan, which has powered each village of Rajasthan with Uniline systems deployed along with solar power systems.
While these projects proved Uniline’s capability in the power electronics sector, there were many testing situations in the journey to reach this stage, which, thankfully, we overcame to emerge as winners. That’s what has helped our company to build the reputation it enjoys today.
The most important milestone in my life has been completing an order in which we were supposed to produce as much in a month as we do in a year. This was an order from the Madhya Pradesh government in 2006. Everyone—from the computer vendor to the Madhya Pradesh government—was worried about how we would be able to produce so many systems. It was said that if Uniline does this, there would be no looking back for the company.
I accepted the challenge, and worked day and night with my team to complete the order and installed it on time. We supplied around 3000 UPS systems with a manpower of only 20-30 people. Within a month, we made sure that the delivery and installation were complete. We had hired around 100 local installation engineers who helped us to do it on time. Ever since, the company has continued to grow by getting valuable orders, and there has been no looking back.
My family and team worked equally hard
My wife, Seema Bansal, is also an electronics engineer who handles the administration and finance departments in Uniline. She took voluntary retirement from her job at Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi seven years back to help me in the business. We have three children—two daughters and a son—who have chosen different careers as per their interests. My eldest daughter, Ankita is a manager at the Central Bank; my son Anshit is pursuing
B Tech in electronics and instrumentation, and my younger daughter Anshika is graduating in journalism. Since my son has chosen to be an engineer too, I want him to work for a big company to gain experience for sometime, and then it is entirely up to him whether he wants to be a part of Uniline or not.
However, I am lucky to have the support of my wife and my brothers, Karunesh Bansal and Mukesh Bansal, who have been with me in the business since a long time. Karunesh handles the production department and Mukesh looks after the purchase department. We share a relationship of respect and understanding. The fact that we have come a long way shows that there is no sense of insecurity or jealousy among us. At Uniline, we all work like a happy family and are equally responsible for bringing the company to this level.
I have employees who have worked for me for 22 years. I have always encouraged my team mates, as I believe without them, Uniline cannot grow. I have made sure that any employee—from a helper to a manager—can approach me for personal as well as professional issues. I don’t want them to face the professional issues that I did when I was employed. Therefore, it has always been a conscious decision on my part to keep my employees motivated and make sure that we stay together as a family.
I want to see Uniline grow as a brand
My sole aim today is to make Uniline the No 1 power conditioning company in India. For this, we have very aggressive plans—to double the turnover and expand our product range through more distributors.
With lots of infrastructural development, a multitude of product lines and widely implemented projects, Uniline is planning to extend to other areas like PFC, frequency converters, etc. I anticipate growing by 15 per cent in terms of revenue, this year.
I would say that I am in a happy space right now; my business is growing and my children are also doing well in their respective fields. Having said that, I feel that this is not the age to rest; I have given myself another 10 years to see my company grow, not only in terms of profit but also in terms of building the brand name. After that, I would like somebody else to take over, as I would devote my time to social work.