MDH and its ever lasting legacy
Dharampalji was born in Sialkot (in present day-Pakistan) in 1923; Dharampal ji was the son of Mahashay Chunni Lal Gulati, the founder of Mahashian Di Hatti, known as MDH today.
What initiated as a micro scale outlet in Sialkot in 1919 is today a 2000-crore business domain with branches in India, Dubai, and London. And the company’s second-generation entrepreneur, the late Dharampal ji was a significant figure in making MDH the label that it is in the present times. MDH is not just a brand it’s a story that reflects determination and sacrifices.
Dharampal ji was in fifth grade when he left his studies and that’s when he began to get the knack of the business together with his father. However, like many people, Dharampal ji’s family was one of them who came to India after partition in 1947 with a meager amount of Rs 1500. His father had a business of spices called ‘’ Mahashian DI Hatti” until Aug 20, 1947 and Dharampal was contributing well to expand his father’s business.
The King of spice who was conventionally known as “MDH UNCLE” wrote his own destiny in the face of all the struggles when his family moved to Amritsar and spent a while during a refugee camp, as Dharampal ji tried to earn a decent living having the recipe of spices from his family. He took odd jobs to survive, including purchasing a Tonga for Rs 650 together with his meager savings and giving rides to people, till he could finally set up a spice store in a tiny room in Karol Bagh, Delhi.
Gradually, he augmented the business to unbolt a second shop in Chandni Chowk, 12 years after partition, in 1959; he bought an area of land in Delhi’s Kirti Nagar, to set up on his own spice factory. At a time when people advocated for newly grounded spices over-packaged products, Dharampal ji took the dive and decided to put his stake into the packaged spice market.
Dharampal ji said “India has an ancient history, where every household across the country would grind spices manually to form their own blends to make a definite taste in dishes. I visualized the concept of ready-to-use spices and merely made this process easier”.
He was also a style icon with his antique red-turban and traditional spectacles which suited him the most. He determined to restate the caliber of the products by employing his own face on the packaging. Thus began his expedition in becoming the most recognizable and stimulating brand ambassador of MDH spice.
There are about 62 products available in over 150 distinctive packages.
In 2017, at the age of 94, he became India’s highest-paid CEO by drawing a salary of ₹21-crore. And with the second-largest market share in India for spices, he truly became the ‘spice king’ of India.
In an interview with Economic Times, Dharampal ji shared his business mantra:
“My motivation to figure is being sincere in product quality sold at affordable prices. And nearly 90% of my salary goes to a charity in my personal capacity”
His business mantra certainly lined up with the company’s vision, because even as a nonagenarian, he visited his factories regularly and interacted with all his team members with empathetic nature.
HE was not just acting as CEO of MDH spice but also endeavoured so as to become the helping hand of our country. He succoured to elevate 20 schools and 1 hospital for the downtrodden section of the country. In 2019, he was bestowed with India’s third-highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.
In a country recognized for its spices, MDH became the connation of flavor and authenticity due to Dharampal ji’s assiduity. His vivacious personality and the taste of spices served as a hallmark touched millions of taste buds and we must not forget that a flavorful food is an avenue to reach to someone’s heart. And through commodities that are deep-rooted to the culture of each Indian household, the legacy of MDH is eternal and everlasting which is still satisfying the appetite of millions.