DHIRUBHAI AMBANI

Early Life
'Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani' was born on 28 December 1932,
at Chorwad, Junagadh in the state of Gujarat, India, into a
Modh family of very moderate means. He was the second son
of a school teacher. He was married to Kokilaben and had two
sons and two daughters. He also worked in Dubai for some
time during his early years. When he was 16 years old, he
moved to Aden, Yemen. Initially, Dhirubhai worked as a
dispatch clerk with A. Besse & Co. Two years later A. Besse &
Co. became the distributors for Shell products and Dhirubhai
was promoted to manage the company‟s oil-filling station at
the port of Aden.
Dhirubhai started off as a small time worker with Arab
merchants in the 1950s and moved to Mumbai in 1958 to start
his own business in spices. After making modest profits, he
moved into textiles and opened his mill near Ahmedabad.
Dhirubhai founded Reliance Industries in 1958. After that it was
a saga of expansions and successes.

Vision and Inspiration
Reliance, acknowledged as one of the best-run companies in
the world has various sectors like petrochemicals, textiles and
is involved in the production of crude oil and gas, to polyester
and polymer products. The company‟s refinery at Jamnagar
accounts for over 25% of India's total refining capacity and
their plant at Hazira is the biggest chemical complex in India.
The company has further diversified into Telecom, Insurance
and Internet Businesses, the Power Sector and so on. Now the
Reliance group with over 85,000 employees provides almost
5% of the Central Government's total revenue.

his second cousin. After trading in a range of products.Dhirubhai has been one among the select Forbes billionaires and has also figured in the Sunday Times list of top 50 businessmen in Asia. Initially. He achieved what almost everybody would consider impossible. Dhirubhai focused his attention on the domestic market. In a life spanning 69 years. His industrious nature and willingness to take on any risk has made him what he is. It was a 350 Sq. near Ahmedabad. he built from scratch India‟s largest privately controlled corporate empire. Dhirajlal Hirachand – better known as Dhirubhai – Ambani would often say that success was his biggest enemy. Yemen. He did not look back. one table and three chairs. Dhirubhai achieved the first of the many goals he had set for himself when he became the owner of a small spinning mill at Naroda. Value scheme ended in 1978. for eight years. they had two assistants to help them with their business. He decided that unlike most Indian businessmen who borrowed heavily from financial institutions to nurture their entrepreneurial ambitions. In 1986 after a heart attack he has handed over his empire to his two sons Anil and Mukesh. During this time. Dhirubhai started extensively promoting his company‟s textile brand name. Reliance Textiles . Ft. the Reliance group chairman inaugurated the retail outlets of as many as 100 franchises. he would instead raise money from the public at large to fund his industrial ventures. who used to be with him in Aden. The story goes that on one particular day. From then onwards. The business was setup in partnership with Champaklal Damani. He was a man who aroused extreme responses in others. His sons are carrying on the successful tradition of their illustrious father. primarily spices and fabrics. room with a telephone. In 1977. Reliance Industries went public and raised equity capital from tens of thousands of investors. many of them located in small towns. Vimal. The first office of the Reliance Commercial Corporation was set up at the Narsinathan Street in Masjid Bunder.

Obstacles In 1965. Dhirubhai decided to move away from the traditional wholesale trade and open his showrooms to tap new markets. Confronted with this situation. To achieve this objective. Dhirubhai and his family used to stay in a one bedroom apartment at the Jaihind Estate in Bhuleshwar. Besides this. Mumbai. While Mr. as their loyalties lay with the older mills. Dhirubhai also took steps to develop an efficient distribution system for Vimal as he found that the existing marketing channels were inadequate and inefficient. Reliance tried to emphasize the superior quality of its fabric in all its advertisements. things were not that easy. An advertising programme was launched to facilitate its entry into the domestic market. It is believed that both had different temperaments and a different take on how to conduct business. he moved to an up market apartment at Altamount Road in South Mumbai. His first priority was to establish the Vimal[2] brand. In 1968. and making profits through that was good for growth. Dhirubhai knew that a strong brand image was crucial for winning the consumer's confidence. . During this period. Dhirubhai was a known risk taker and he considered that building inventories. However. anticipating a price rise. He appointed several agents from non-textile backgrounds for the same.was not a very well known name in the domestic market. it faced lot of resistance from the traditional cloth merchants. When Reliance entered the domestic market. Champaklal Damani and Dhirubhai Ambani ended their partnership and Dhirubhai started on his own. under which Reliance Textiles sold its fabrics in India. Damani was a cautious trader and did not believe in building yarn inventories.

Dhirubhai believed that “business is nothing but a web of relationships and obligations. Be it licenses.Despite his unprecedented corporate valour.” Keeping this principle in mind. He is also said to have induced government intervention by offering bribes and using other forms of lobbying prevalent in the US. and of getting policies formulated in favour of Reliance. During the Janata Party rule (1977. his immense success earned him a number of enemies.1979). . Critics accused him of using the “more than the usual” ways of obtaining licenses. They felt that Dhirubhai was quick to recognize and exploit opportunities. a bubble that would burst any moment. getting quick approvals for public issues and capital goods imports. and others to increase its sphere of influence. the Bombay Dyeing chief and Dhirubhai is well known in the Indian business circles. Nusli Wadia obtained the permission to build a 60000 tpa di-methyl terephtalate (DMT) plant. the government changed and when the Congress government came to power. Reliance was known to engage politicians. journalists. The fight between Nusli Wadia. It is said that Ambani used his connections with key politicians and bureaucrats to obtain licenses and approvals for projects. foreign exchanges or quotas. However. as well as the media.”[7 However. He was considered to be a symbol of all that was wrong with the Indian economy. However. some corporate bigwigs considered Ambani to be a manipulator. This was the same time when Dhirubhai obtained license to build a PTA plant. Dhirubhai was of the opinion that business was not all about ethics and morality. he always succeeded in making the best out of most difficult situations. before his letter of intent could be converted into a license. not all analysts would agree to that. it was about expansion and success. Dhirubhai and Reliance were accused of manipulating tariffs to suit their needs and outsmart their rivals. the ruling politicians. Dhirubhai managed to create favourable centers in all the important areas – among the bureaucrats. These were the areas where power vested. his license was being delayed (until 1981) with one pretext or the other. Both of them were adept in using their business and political connections to suit their ends. Some businessmen described Reliance as “an out of control monster. His amazing ability to use the state and its policies to his advantage was responsible for the expansion of Reliance.

and "commitment to growth". Goenka formulated a fresh assault issuing a statement that Reliance had smuggled extra machines into the country. 1. Qualities as an Entrepreneur . had often tried to act as a mediator and solve the conflict between the two corporate giants. Newspapers. This resulted in a show cause notice from the customs. he would scheme another plot against him. In spite of all these attacks. (Goenka) the proprietor of the Indian Express Group[8] which was into news publication. magazines and weekend tabloids continually attacked Dhirubhai. urged Dhirubhai to bring the rivalry to an end. All this infuriated Nusli Wadia and marked the beginning of one of the major battles in the history of Indian business which lasted for several years. Slowly. Dhirubhai never failed to retain public confidence. In the 80s. Dhirubhai was victorious for once. Even though Dhirubhai promised to do so. and a duty and penalty claim of Rs. Goenka turned against Dhirubhai and launched a series of press campaigns against Reliance. and a number of cases were filed against it. The advertisements contained key statements like "concern for truth". Reliance issued 15 advertisements in leading newspapers of the country including the Indian Express.19 billion on Reliance. Soon. After Goenka's death in 1991.Dhirubhai was also contemplating on building a Paraxylene facility. But he did not see much sense in lobbying against Dhirubhai and this brought to an end the big battle. he continued his fight with Wadia and Goenka felt betrayed. and therefore had excess built capacity. He considered the latter his son and at times. Ramnath Goenka. Goenka always promised Dhirubhai that he would put an end to the campaigns being held against him in the press. "allegiance to ethics". But the very next moment. tables started turning against Goenka. To counter these attacks. but in vain. Goenka backed Nusli Wadia. The assaults did not stop even when Dhirubhai was hospitalised after his first stroke in 1986. a few weeks later. his son. there was a nationwide raid on the Express group. In September 1987. Vivek Goenka took over.

(Not surprisingly. a man who communicated with the rich and the poor with equal felicity.Sensing a good opportunity in the textile business. In the year 1975. Dhirubhai started his first textile mill at Naroda. Vimal Ambani. He was not exactly a pauper since Rs 500 meant much more than what the amount means in this day and age. near Ahmedabad in the year 1966. Either you loved him or you hated him. acted tough. He was a visionary as well as a manipulator. which was named after his elder brother Ramaniklal Ambani's son. Dhirubhai ensured that his two sons went to premier educational institutions in the US – Mukesh was educated at Stanford University and Anil at the Wharton School of Business. The second son of a poorly paid school-teacher from Chorwad village in Gujarat. a Technical team from the World Bank visited the Reliance Textiles' Manufacturing unit. knew how to bend rules or have rules bent for him. of irreconcilable contrasts and paradoxes galore. Ramniklal. Nevertheless. he stopped studying after the tenth standard and decided to join his elder brother.) . Textiles were manufactured using polyester fibre yarn. Franchise retail outlets were started and they used to sell "only Vimal" brand of textiles. Dhirubhai started the brand "Vimal". one could not ask for a more spectacular „ragsto-riches‟ tale. Extensive marketing of the brand "Vimal" in the interiors of India made it a household name. This unit has the rare distinction of being certified as "excellent even by developed country standards" during that period. There was just no way you could have been indifferent to this amazing entrepreneur who thought big. who was generous beyond the call of duty with those whom he liked and utterly ruthless with his rivals – a man of many parts. who was working in Aden at that time.