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From selling oranges to running Rs 400 crore company: The rags-to-riches story of Nagpur’s Pyare Khan

FE Online

Nagpur-based Pyare Khan is a success story that not many would have come across in the glare of growing startups in India. From selling oranges at a railway station and driving autorickshaw to running the Rs 400-crore turnover transport company Ashmi Road Transport, Khan's rags-to-riches story is among inspirational reads emerging from cities beyond Delhi and Mumbai.

"My mother Raisa Khatun did odd jobs to feed the four of us - my two brothers, a sister and me. We chipped in by selling oranges at the Nagpur railway station," The Indian Express reported quoting Khan.

As soon as he got his driving licence, Khan took up a job as a driver in a courier company but had to quit it because of an accident in Odisha when he was 18. Then in the late nineties, he bought an auto-rickshaw and ran it for a while, Khan told The Indian Express.

Khan was also part of Nagpur's Melody Makers group where he played the keyboard during those days. He in fact, "thought of buying a bus to ferry our group to programme venues. So I bought one by selling some of my instruments and other valuables," but the venture couldn't succeed. He, then, decided to get a truck in 2004.

However, to get a bank loan wasn't a smooth ride for 24-year old autorickshaw driver Khan. Bhushan Bais, the branch manager of ING Vysya Bank in Nagpur wasn't convinced of approving a loan to him due to lack of collateral. Nonetheless, Khan was eventually somehow able to secure Rs 11 loan from Bais to buy the truck which he even repaid to the bank within two years — at least two years before the stipulated period.

Cut to 2019. Khan now 41 has grown the business from a single truck to a fleet of 125 trucks, which he owns, and another over 3,000 trucks on hire a day to move steel and power infrastructure across India and even abroad under his company Ashmi Road Transport Pvt Ltd registered in 2013. Khan has 10 branch offices of his company across India and has an employee strength of about 500 people.

The branch manager Bais too is part of the Khan's success journey now as the company's Head of Finance. "Though I had my reservations about granting him the loan in 2004, I had a gut feeling that he was perhaps an honest man. He proved me right. In 2016, after hearing of his impeccable credentials as a businessman, I accepted his offer to join him," he said.

Ashmi Road Transport was offered a loan of Rs 80 crore on June 20th this year by UAE-based investment bank Imperial Capital L.L.C., that was led by Bais on Khan's behalf.

Khan's company today delivers for firms including KEC International, JSW Steel, Tata and SAIL. His dedication and commitment towards his work have earned him praises. "He is gritty, confident and delivers the consignment without thinking about profit and loss. He even takes up challenging assignments that others refuse," said JSW Nagpur plant head Mukul Verma.

Khan also won a contest for young transport entrepreneurs in 2018 organised jointly by IIM-Ahmedabad and Mahindra Truck & Bus. The contest saw 18 other contestants including two from the US who were equipped with laptops and PowerPoint presentations, unlike Khan who just stood up and presented his business in Hindi.

"When the organisers of the contest asked me to take part, I wasn't sure. I didn't even know what IIM was. So I went there reluctantly, without knowing what to say," said Khan.

The road ahead for him includes shifting to a Rs 7-crore corporate office on three acres close to Nagpur city as the business grows. "I intend to expand my business in a couple of years and generate more jobs, which is what our country needs the most," Khan added.