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Simple Living, High Thinking
Sevantibhai Shah, Venus Jewel
By: Diamond World News Service
Aug 14 2014 7:04PM
Reference: 9441  

He is a pro-active thinker, a visionary, a stalwart industrialist with a heart of gold. With many accolades to his name Sevantibhai Shah, fondly called as ‘Kaka’, is a humble man at heart. One of the founders of Venus Jewel - World Leaders in Solitaires, Sevantibhai is a man who is constantly on a mission to do something new, be it for diamond industry or for society. One meeting with him, and he leaves you spellbound with his worldly wisdom and simplicity. Kavita Parab tried to unravel the many facets of his dynamic personality.

As you enter the building premises of Venus Jewel in Surat, one is surprised by the simple décor with minimalistic approach, which is abode to the world’s leading solitaire manufacturing company. The entire building oozes ‘Simplicity’, and why not, the founder of this mammoth diamond empire, Sevantibhai Shah is a living example of ‘Simple Living and High Thinking’.

Born in 1948, to a family of moneylenders from Vadgam, a village near Palanpur in North Gujarat, Sevantibhai had no intention of getting into the diamond business, but being inclined towards education since his early childhood, he wished to study further. However, destiny had other plans. After completing his matriculation in 1965, he was in a dilemma whether to continue his further studies or join his brother in the diamond business. As luck would have it, Sevantibhai’s plan to get admission in college got delayed by a day, and realising the potential of the diamond business, he changed his mind and joined his brother Chhotubhai in the diamond business.

In the year 1969, along with his elder brother Ramnikbhai, he founded Venus Jewel. Thus, began the journey of the setting up of a mighty diamond empire in Surat. Right from the very beginning, Venus Jewel diamonds have been known for their finest quality, beauty and craftsmanship. Committed to perfection, today, even after over four decades in the diamond industry, Venus Jewel continues its legacy of offering its finely precision crafted solitaires through their indigenously developed and uniquely innovative services.

Sevantibhai not only talks of principles but he walks them too. In the initial years of his business he chalked out certain principles for himself, which he follows till date; one of them is – a balanced work and personal life. He says, “In the initial years, while I was struggling to settle my business, I had decided I would not compromise on my personal life while running my business. If my lunch hour is fixed at 12.30 in the afternoon then no big orders or an important meeting can stop me. Leading a disciplined life has helped me balance my personal and professional life.” Further he adds, “I rarely compromise, and follow my heart. If we know what we are doing is right, then there is nothing to fear.”

These principles reflect in his business as well, which works on the basis of doing the right things in the right way. Working in a sector which was largely unorganised, Sevantibhai followed all the laws and regulations and provided best working conditions to his employees without any compromise whatsoever. In 1977-78, after returning from a family organised pilgrimage, Sevantibhai was dissatisfied with the kind of work done by the contractors. The work quality was affected due to an all of a sudden boom in the industry. In order to retain quality, he decided to almost double the labour charges. Naturally, this played a vital role in improving the standards.

Aimed at maximising value addition, the company’s unique incentive-based wage system in his office and factory is also highly motivating in the sense that an employee’s rank goes higher in proportion to how better he has performed, thereby ensuring higher wages, and vice versa. This results in employees always trying to improve performance, thereby ultimately resulting in maximum performance all the time. Thus, employer, employee and the clients are all happy. When asked about this move, he says “I am not doing anything extraordinary; this is how a human being should behave with the other. You need to grow with the people, only then success is guaranteed. If my employees are happy it will reflect in their work and final output which will make my clients happy and thus my company will grow.”

Initially, the Indian diamond industry was known to manufacture small and cheap diamonds. Once at a function in Mumbai, a Belgium based diamantaire of Indian origin commented on India being unable to ever manufacture big and expensive diamonds. Hearing these words, Sevantibhai took it up as a challenge. He says, “We put in extra effort to make it work. For a long time we were the only players in this area of the business. Slowly, others started coming to this area. For the industry then, in order to hire talent who could process big and expensive diamonds, Venus Jewel was the only place, and they started taking away our talented workers. However, instead of getting worried I thought of finding a way to give my workers the best possible facilities, so that they would not be tempted by anything. And it worked; today the situation is such that I never face worker shortage.” Sevantibhai’s taking up this challenge has truly made Venus Jewel today, World Leaders in Solitaires.

Yet another more recent example of Sevantibhai’s conviction is Venus Jewel smoothly sailing through the 2008 recession, which also became the subject of study at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. During this recessionary phase, the Indian diamond industry was going through a bad time; a lot of companies were cutting down on their workforce and most had indefinitely extended their Diwali vacations that year.

Hearing about the global situation from their friends who worked in other diamond companies as well as through the media, his employees, holding utmost respect for their beloved ‘Kaka’ came to him with the request to shut down the company for some time. When he refused to do so, next day they came again with the request to reduce their salaries, which also he refused. They then asked what they could do for the company. Sevantibhai advised them;

1. “Avoid any kind of damage”
2. “Cooperate with the Management to improve the standards”

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