A year ago, when Anand Sankeshwar received the award for The Most Admired Entrepreneur in Logistics for his immense contributions to business before a cheering crowd, he recalled the story of VRL Group, a company which started with just one truck in early 1970s, with his father at the helm.
Anand was part of the business since the age of fourteen. He saw the whole the dimension of his family business as an active participant. In the process, he evolved to become a great business leader. His journey from a stunningly curious teenager to becoming the Managing Director of a 42 year old conglomerate is a dose of inspiration for his successors.
Only a rare breed of people have that innate ability to lead and thrive. Anand Sankeshwar perhaps inherited that quality from his father Vijay Sankeshwar, the legendary entrepreneur who founded VRL Group, a conglomerate based in Karnataka. When he dipped his feet into entrepreneurship, he had a couple of great responsibilities on his shoulder – to keep his father’s reputation intact and to grow their business to new heights. It wasn’t easy to lead a big business commenced by his father.
Anyone would have thought twice before holding the string of such a conglomerate. But Anand, as the Managing Director of VRL Group seamlessly shouldered the business in his own unique way, leading the company to one of the most influential names in India’s business sphere.
Learning the ABC of Business
Anand was born in Gadag, Karnataka, on 14th November 1974. As he grew up, he got acquainted with his father’s logistic business. So, Anand wasn’t confused over his choices in life- he knew exactly what he wanted to do and how he would do it. His passion for entrepreneurship persuaded him to take a bachelor’s degree in commerce from J G College of Commerce, Hubli in 1996.
During his pre-university course, Anand used to look after the business without compromising his academic commitments. He passionately worked at transport office of VRL for over 5 hours daily to get conversant with the rudiments of the industry. That’s how he learned to switch between tasks.
As a teenager he managed the warehouse of VRL and introduced innovative ideas to recruit the best drivers for his firm. He used buses and trucks across the city as a platform to advertise the jobs for drivers in VRL. At 25, he launched Vijaya Karnataka newspaper, which got sold to Times of India Group in 2006.
However, he got the greatest insights of entrepreneurship from his father. Working in close proximity with such an experienced entrepreneur helped him imbibe the values of business at once and taught him the ways to tackle the challenges effectively.
A relentless passion to know new things made Anand a quick learner and he understood how a business functioned, and got to know about the finer aspects of running a logistic business successfully.
His deep interest in logistics and its nuances brought him to the position of Managing Director of VRL Group. When his father passed the baton of his company to Anand, he wasn’t doubtful even for a second. He knew his son would be able to explore new avenues for the company. Anand, on the other hand, never gave a chance to anyone to doubt his ability. He took the business forward as VRL group expanded its footprint in the country. He was instrumental in making VRL the most recognized brand names in the logistic business in India and a household name in Karnataka.
Logistics is a challenging business domain in India. But Anand took over VRL logistics and did a great job as its Managing Director to scale up the business. As an entrepreneur, he devised smart strategies to grow the business. His farsightedness and innovative thinking made him stand out from his counterparts. He popularised ‘work is worship’ culture of the company, which helped him serve the clients in a unique and best way.
VRL is now the largest owner of commercial vehicles in India’s private sector and operates a massive fleet of over 4,400 company owned vehicles plying the roads. Now the company has an unparalleled extensive network of 1000+ branches across 3000 locations .
The company holds a place in Limca Book of Records for being the owner of the largest fleet of commercial vehicles in India. Above all, it has created large job opportunity in the country with 25,000 plus employee strength. VRL group launched Vijayanand Travels, its bus division in 1996. Today, it has a fleet of over 400 Hi-tech passenger buses across eight states catering to around 15,000 passengers daily.
Leaving a Mark in Media Industry
Anand was an entrepreneur with a vision for future. He started to expand his domain to other sectors. At 25, he launched Vijaya Karnataka newspaper. Under his leadership, the newspaper attained massive popularity across the state. Later, he sold it to Times of India Group in 2006.
Anand is still actively involved in media business. He is at the helm of VRL Media which owns the newspaper Vijayavani and Digvijay News Channel. Establishing a newspaper wasn’t easy for several reasons. But nothing could affect Anand’s enthusiasm. He played a pivotal role in making Vijayavani the most circulated newspaper in Karnataka within a short span of time.
He didn’t confine the scope of media just into newspaper and television channel. He was well aware of the boom of digital media globally. The dominance of digital media over its counterparts persuaded him to come up with a unique idea. That’s how he launched PowerNewz, an Uber-like digital platform for hyperlocal news. It is set to create a buzz in India’s digital content space.
Always on the move!
Anand loves to travel. It helps him unwind from the busy schedules of business. As an avid traveller, he travels 15 days a month. He is also the brand ambassador for transport brands such as Castrol, Toyota, Ashok Leyland and Michelin Tyres.
Many might think taking over a business is quite easier than starting one. However, it is quite difficult to maintain a brand’s reputation and credibility. Anand Sankeshwar pulled off this Herculean task successfully. He met all the expectations and even went beyond the horizon to explore new opportunities. As a second generation entrepreneur, he left an indelible mark in India’s logistic sector.
Awards and Honours
Within a short span of time, Anand was able to create his own identity as an entrepreneur. He is the recipient of some prestigious business awards, accolades and honours instituted by different reputed organizations across the globe. A few of them include:
- Brand Builder of the Year Award at the “Global Brand Excellence Awards” – Singapore
- Inspirational Leader of New India in USA
- Best IInd Generation Entrepreneur – TiE
- The Most Admired Entrepreneur of the Year (Logistics)’ at the Rising Leadership Awards 2017
- The prestigious Youth Icon award by ABCI of Mumbai
No matter who you are, you are only defined by your work. Anand Sankeshwar could have easily resorted to an affluent life under the shade of his father’s large business. But he set out to explore more and went the extra mile to take the business forward. It wasn’t a piece of cake to lead a conglomerate.
Anand, with his smart choices and best strategies, built a strong reputation as an entrepreneur among his counterparts. So whatever you do, do it in a unique way, just like Anand did. That’s how you can grow your business.