From earning Rs. 15 per day to building a giant in the packaging industry – Amazing story of Durgapur’s Sudip Dutta creating Ess Dee Aluminium!


Sudip Dutta was only 17-year-old when destiny forced him to earn a living for his family of 6 members. Sudip was born and raised in Durgapur, West Bengal, India. His father, Vijay Shankar Dutta, was an ex-armyman and had to retire from his service after he was severely injured in a gunshot battle during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Following the retirement, Vijay took up a job as a security guard. The salary was low and the pension was meagre, and it was quite a difficult task to feed the 8 members of the family. During the late eighties, Sudip’s elder brother died after he was diagnosed having a tumour. Three months later, his father also died.

The unfortunate events pushed the family into a crisis. Young Sudip had no other choice but to take up the responsibility of the entire family on his own shoulders.

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Sacrificing the dreams of becoming an Engineer!

Sudip Dutta had the ambition to study Engineering at a reputed institute. He was a good student. He did schooling from Durgapur’s Hindustan Fertilizer High School and Bidhan Chandra Institution. After appearing in the Higher Secondary examinations, Sudip even sat for the Joint Common Entrance Test (CET) and secured a decent rank of 376! The rank although could have fetched him an engineering seat at any premier institute, he, however, decided to sacrifice his engineering dreams and start working. The reasons were quite obvious.


Sudip Dutta started exploring earning opportunities in Durgapur. The year was 1989 and he was done with his XII board exams. Durgapur, being a small town back then, didn’t have much options for jobs. After months of job hunt, Sudip failed to get himself a decent job in his own town. His friends advised him to relocate to Mumbai, a city that we often associate with full of opportunities for all across different sectors.

The initial struggling days in Mumbai for Sudip Dutta

Following the advice from friends, Sudip reached Mumbai in May 1989. The first day in Mumbai exposed the 17-year-old boy to a bigger challenge. He spent the first night at Dadar railway station. The dream city no longer appeared to be a city of dreams as everything around was highly chaotic. Moreover, it appeared that everybody was involved in some race whose outcomes and rewards were unknown. The entire city seemed to be running! The next day Sudip started looking for a cheap accommodation and he found one at Mira Road. It was a single room which he had to share with 20 other people.

Days as a labourer at a sachet making firm

The next objective was to get a job. After a few days, Sudip got a job as a labourer in a sachet making firm at Jogeshwari. His salary was Rs. 15 per day which roughly transforms to around Rs. 400 per month. The salary was less and to build a savings was another challenge for the young boy. The firm was at a 20km distance from his place of stay. Since, he couldn’t afford an accommodation close to his job location, Sudip decided to cover the entire distance walking. Every day he had to walk 40km to earn a living. He also used to send a part of his meagre savings to his home in Durgapur.

The life changing deal and the success stories that followed!

In 1991, the management of the sachet making firm in which Sudip was working decided to close it down since it was incurring a huge amount of losses. Sudip Dutta, who by that time gained significant experience in the packaging industry, decided to take over the firm. Agreeing to operate on a profit sharing basis, the firm owner decided to transfer ownership for Rs. 16,000. The young boy from Durgapur found it to be a good deal, but he didn’t even had that amount to strike the deal. With the help of his friends, Sudip managed to arrange the money and took over the firm. He was not even 20 when he became the proprietor of the company!


Sudip Dutta’s journey as the owner of the packaging company started with 12 other people. In the early days, the company was involved in making sachets for Oral Rehydration Powders. Sudip Dutta was an young entrepreneur who had faith on himself. He came in touch with a few pharmaceutical companies and entered into agreement to do the packaging for their products. He leased a sick aluminium foil printing unit in 1993 for this purpose. His belief was even if an economy goes into recession, the pharmaceutical companies would remain unaffected.

Expansions

In 1998, Sudip started his company’s first self owned printing unit in Vasai, Thane, Maharashtra. Between 1998 and 2000, Ess Dee created 20 more factory units printing aluminium foils. Sudip’s company Ess Dee Aluminium soon became a mid-cap company and managed to break the monopoly of companies like India Foil, Jindal Ltd., etc  in the packaging industry. However, Sudip Dutta had bigger visions of turning Ess Dee Aluminium into a large-cap company.

In 2006, group companies of Ess Dee were amalgamated. Later on in the year, the company was converted into a Public Limited Company. The equity shares of Ess Dee Aluminium Ltd. were listed on BSE and NSE in December 2006.

Ess Dee Aluminium acquiring India Foils for an acquisition deal amount of Rs. 130 crore

In November 2008, Ess Dee Aluminium took over Vedanta owned India Foils for Rs. 130 crore. India Foils was a struggling packaging venture at that time and Vedanta was trying to get rid of this sick venture. The deal with Ess Dee Aluminium marked the exit of Vedanta from the packaging sector. Many analysts viewed this as a bad decision. They were of the opinion that the deal would bring difficulties for Ess Dee. However, in the latter years, the deal not only went on to become a good one but also helped Sudip Dutta’s company establish itself as a market leader in the packaging industry.

In 2010, the merger of Ess Dee Aluminium and India Foils were materialized. In 2011, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ess Aluminium started operations in Singapore.

Ess Dee Aluminium now has a market cap of more than Rs. 200 crore. The names like Mondelez India, Perfetti Van Melle, Nestle, GlaxoSmithKline, Sun Pharmaceuticals in Ess Dee’s client list speaks of its success.

Present Days

Sudip Dutta is the present chairman at Ess Dee Aluminium. As of September 2016, he holds around 57% of the equity capital in the company. Sudip now lives in Singapore with his wife Aarti and his 2 sons. He knows the value of education. To educate the children and the youth of the country belonging to the unprivileged section of the society, he started Sudip Dutta Foundation a few years back. The foundation aims to nurture the young talents to meet the ever growing demands for a skilled labour force.

Sudip Dutta’s journey is a real inspiration for all of us. Challenges would always appear in our lives and one should have the strong determination to deal with them. And, those who fight the challenges emerge out as winners!

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Image Source: Facebook Profile of Sudip Dutta

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