A family that thinks together...

Five grandsons of the founder are looking after the businesses

A family that thinks together...

 ‘Haveli ke umar saat saal.’ Bucking this old Hindi adage is a business family in Mysore — the NR Group — which is home grown and has stood the test of times since the last over 60 years, pedaling its way to success.

With a group turnover of nearly Rs 700 crore today, it is a well-knit family business run with the flagship Cycle Pure Agarbathis since 1948. The third generation of the founder N Ranga Rao is running diversified businesses.

“Everyone thinks that our brand logo is cycle because my father used to carry agarbathis on his bicycle and move around. But he always taught us to be original and the reason why he chose the cycle as the logo was because in any language cycle is only cycle and it cannot be translated,” said R N Murthy, managing partner and the second son of Ranga Rao.

A first generation entrepreneur Ranga Rao, whose birth centenary was celebrated by the group on October 19, migrated from Watrat near Madurai in Tamil Nadu to Mysore in 1948. He had very clear goals. He writes, “Those who were leading in agarbathi making in 1949, when I started my factory, to my astonishment, only one out of the six was progressing in 1969 also.”

Agarbathi is a very guarded industry and perfume blending is still a ‘secret’. Having successfully guided the company with brands like Cycle Ratna in 1950, Sugandha Mallika in 1962 and Natya Kesari, Ranga Rao retired from the company in 1972. His sons R Guru, the chairman of the group, who joined his father in 1955, and Murthy took over reins as slowly other children also joined the business.

Since proper marketing is the key to a successful business, the brothers decided that they should have their own marketing services. “As there are agarbathi dealers even today all over the country my father and uncle decided to have our own dealer network on the lines of the FMCG model,” said the third generation managing partner Arjun M Ranga.

There are six grandsons of Ranga Rao who are looking after businesses. “We were given responsibility at a very young age. We all had independence to go our separate ways. Hence, Pavan, Kiran, Vishnu and Anirudh who were all educated abroad took a decision to join the group,” said Arjun Ranga.

“With most of the labour in Mysore and other places involved in agarbathi rolling and bamboo splitting migrating to better jobs in malls and other places, we had to train people in north Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu in these skills. Today, indirectly, about two lakh people are employed in this industry,” he said.

“The third generation of NR Group is together yet independent — with each of them having independent responsibilities and having the advantage of collective wisdom and thought,” said industrialist Ajith R Pai who has been watching the growth of this group.

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