I was a bit flustered and anxious. I had a meeting with Kuldip Singh Dhingra, chairman of Berger Paints, the next day. But I had found nothing during my research on the Internet that would have helped me prepare for the meeting. All I had found were a few articles from business magazines that had profiled the company and had included the owners as part of it; some quotes from the Dhingras in the articles about their factories and business. I could find no photographs of the family and nothing about Kuldip Dhingra personally.I was anxious that I would go into the meeting almost blind.
This meeting was for my earlier book-The Inheritors. I wanted to include in my book the story of Kuldip Dhingra and his brother, Gurbachan, as the inheritors of their paint business and thus sought a meeting.
How do you go from being a shopkeeper to multi-billionaire in forty years?
Kuldip Singh Dhingra, the patriarch of the Dhingra family and the man credited with building Berger Paints, has remained a mystery. He is low-profile, eschews media and continues to operate from a small office in Delhi. In this candid and captivating biography Kuldip hares his story for the first time.
Kuldip started his journey from a humble background. Having lost his father early in life, Kuldip and his brothers Sohan and Gurbachan, started as shopkeepers in Amritsar. From an annual turnover of Rs. 10 lakhs in 1970, the Dhingras have an annual turnover of over Rs. 7,500 crores today. They are among the top 30 richest families in India with a net worth of over $ 4.5 billion.
This never-told-before story of Kuldip moves from Amritsar to Delhi where he became the largest exporter to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. In 1990 the Dhingras bought Berger from Vijay Mallya.
From dealing with KGB to negotiating with Vijay Mallya; from being pushed to sell arms to challenging big businesses – the journey of Kuldip Singh Dhingra is all about what a man can achieve if he is relentless.
‘Sonu takes you deep into an Indian family business and how the twists and turns and accidents in the family make an impact on the business. I recommend it.’
—Harsh Mariwala, Chairman Marico
‘The narrative of this biography is gripping, akin to a thriller. From start to finish it is a story that captures all the hues of the truly ‘colourful ’ journey of Kuldip Dhingra. The transformational impact that this entrepreneurial businessman had on Berger Paints, with his instinctive style, is a story to cherish for all time.’
— Harsh Goenka, Chairman RPG Enterprises
‘The book (The Inheritors) is an easy read and the narrative is interesting for the most part, and would engage the layperson as well. The interviews are detailed, insightful and reveal many unknown aspects of the family, the business, successes, failures and strategies. It is easy to feel that the protagonists are sharing their fears and their deepest, heartfelt emotions with readers.’
— Naina Lal Kidwai, Chairman Advent private equity, India Advisory Board
‘A subtle nuanced story of what it takes to build a large business in India, but more importantly, how
to ensure to stay at the top… full of riveting human stories of the founder who has not shared this
with anyone before.’
— Amit Burman, Chairman Dabur