Jose Thomas

My Blog

Sunday 26th June, 2011



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Dear friends,

I am aware that I am being very open about my failures and many people have asked me why I do this. My intention in sharing my real life experiences is to condition the younger generation who are already facing a challenging world.

Many people have become rich by virtue of inheritance. They inherit fortunes or even prime properties in growing economies across the world, becoming instant millionaires. There was never a time in the past when profits from real estate were like what it is today. I didn’t have such luck. All my father left me was Choice Canning Company. I never had any windfalls and all that I have today is a result of sheer hard work.

I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had inherited such wealth. I don’t know if I would have worked this hard, I don’t know if I would have fought on. Easy money, I think, is not sustainable. Money has to be earned. Money earned rightfully will be passed on to your generations. Quick fixes are not a solution, though this may not be understood by the next generation. Hence there is only one mantra. Make money by hard work and nothing but hard work.

One of the key mantras to a successful business today is to own assets, as well as having ample liquidity. It is a kind of a comfort that, I believe, one should keep below your pillow. Staying liquid gives you the ability to command the business that you are involved in.

Continuing with my story about ‘recovery’- my main struggle was with liquidity. I had no extra cash to spare. I could not make any kind of adjustment to settle my creditors. So it was nothing but a struggle and a tough one at that! As I look back now, it was a period of severe testing. This was in 1996, when the Asian currency crisis hit the global economy. The whole world panicked. Major Asian currencies lost their value. The Rupee did too. This was the time, when I woke up every morning with the hope of saying, “I am almost there’, and in fact, I almost was.

During this period, I used to sell most of my seafood products to a company based in LA with whom I used to do business. The product I sold them was processed at my Nellore plant, based on their specifications.

My shipping business was prospering. My Cochin seafood business too was prospering, but my Nellore business, producing black tiger shrimp was a drain and this impaired the progress I made in my other businesses. So, what I was seeing was neither an improvement nor deterioration, rather, stagnation. At this point in time, I could have got disheartened and given up easily, but I didn’t.

I was struggling. I could not procure shrimp because I did not pay my farmers; my factory in Andhra Pradesh was idling, incurring huge costs. This was when one of my rich farmers called to ask if I was interested in buying raw material from his firm. I was so excited, someone calling me and assuring me of supplies! I started procuring shrimp immediately, from him, processed the raw material and sold the goods to my customer in LA. I still recall being there, on the factory floor, personally overseeing the production.

In about ten days, we processed about 80 tons of shrimp, valued at 1 million USD, and exported it to the customer in LA. I made some money in this transaction. I announced to my wife and children that my Nellore business had begun to turn around.

Friends, in about 40 days, the goods reached LA. My customer called me one evening when I was still enjoying the success of this sale, and informed me that they cannot accept these goods because the quality did not meet their specifications. I was shocked, as these shrimp were processed right in my factory at Nellore, in my presence. My honesty and integrity was part of this production. I was sure we had followed all the specifications.

I was told that this particular consignment was being rejected by my customer and the reason given was that “the color of the shrimp had turned brown”. I knew this was unacceptable. There was no way this could have happened. I just could not believe it. I received a fax from my customer asking me to refund the 1 million dollars that they had paid toward this particular transaction. I was shocked and I asked “God, why again?” I anxiously wondered how I could outlive this shock. I faced the grim reality that I would be deep in trouble.

Friends, as I write this story sitting in Cochin today, on the grounds of Choice School, watching my employees celebrate the start up season for Choice Day 2011, by conducting Choice Sports Day, I cannot fathom how I walked that painful journey and came out of it.

The story takes an interesting twist from here, stay tuned to find out how I overcame this million dollar crisis.

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Responses to
 Bibin. E.V says:
Dear Sir, I'm your fan. usually I trying to read your all articles- amazing. and thanks sir. and one thing ...I want to start a business( screen printing)- what are the things I should care.. can you advice me.. Bibin Riyadh
 C.A.Majeed says:
 Alfred Rakesh says:
Sir,first time am reading ones blog n so intrested in it...waiting to be continued...keep on going....god bless you... Regards, Alfred
 jikku j says:
hi sir, really inspiring....... thnx.
 Ann Sam says:
Hello JT. I enjoy reading U'r blog once in a way. Well I assume the story gets more interesting to read because of the rise( recovery) U have had in spite of the falls. Best wishes & keep the consistency in your existing ventures!
 nagender rao says:
JT, Strange coincidence met some one from cochin on the flight from chicago to abu dhabi and were talking about you. Great to know all is well and back in making mega bucks. How is the family? where is sebastian now a days? Take care with best wishes. Good luck JT.