School dropout turned Job Creator
Lucknow: Tough times don’t last, tough people do goes a saying. The living example of this is Mohammed Alim who runs Nukkar Printing and Binding Centre in Old Lucknow. A person who did not study beyond class 4, today is not only doing his work with efficiency, but is also giving employment to nearly 100 people. In his trade he has also done his bit to settle youngsters from his family professionally.
His story starts in the 80s. His father Mirza Mohammed Akbar used to work in Roadways as a conductor. Well qualified and with good knowledge of English, he was often called to guide foreign tourists and he was quite respected for that. Mirza Mohammad Akbar was the sole breadwinner of the family who was taking care of Mohd Alim and his siblings. One of Akbar’s friends, a production manager by craft gave the idea to him that why don’t you to give your son training in printing and binding. This was at times when zardozi craftsmen were seen with high regard in the community.
Mohommad Alim narrates, “ We were going through bad times and the idea for many youngsters was staying in company of good people so that good placements in a competitive job market. As time progressed we collected 6000 rupees and out of that money we bought a letter press and other basic requirements to run the printing business. We started going to people with whom we had good terms and we would learn, we started off eventually with our work.”
No work was small for him
Elaborating further – he said, “ In the initial stages we started printing gas agency coupons. Then work was done on pamphlets and vouchers. With the stars lucky we started getting work from Indian Oil and with blessing of almighty we eventually managed to get work from all gas agencies. It was during this time that we also got work for HP Redbook.”
As his idol, he credits his father adding, “ My father always taught me that quality, timeline and costing are the three attributes that a printing press owner must have. It is because of his teachings that I have managed to do well in the printing industry with a sharp focus on binding and now I can operate all machines. In terms of big brands, I started life with Campa Cola, but eventually the big brand that we associated with was Pepsico. Once Pepsico was part of our portfolio, people started telling us that now you will get lot of work. The entry to Pepsico was not easy. For 2 months, we had to keep knocking on doors and keep approaching Pepsico with visiting cards. Finally with help from two people Amit Tandon and Harish Harish Pant, I finally got my big break. Over the course of the next 4 to 5 months several plants opened and I now was more than just an employee.”
No compromising with technology
Talking tech he says – I have a single colour Heidelberg black and white machine, a double colour Heidelberg black and white machine, a four colour Adost machine and a Kodak machine for the main plate making work. I bought recently a 5 colour machine which is a top class UV enabled facility. It is nothing short of a miracle that in a nerve centre like old Lucknow, my printing press has managed to surpass challenges and stay afloat. I have a lot of good quality high speed machines and their maintenance requires proper engineers. To keep myself up to date with latest trends and technologies, I have gone to Germany three times. I got started life with a single colour machine and the rest as they say is history. We increased a circle, built links, there were surely ups and downs – but we never looked back. There were times when the annual turnover was a meagre 21000, but that did not deter our march forward.
Bad times attract bad behaviour often at the cost of being rude. For Mohd Alim things were not different. He said, “ People at one point were very rude but that gave me an impetus to work hard. It was because of the scolding that I got from my elder brother and father that I improved myself. All my friends are well qualified but they only egg me to do better. With 98% marks in book craft in school my father thought I would succeed in doing the printing and binding business justice.
Usool Mattered in life
Recalling his best guide in life, he said, “As a mentor I feel that there can be no better mentor then my wife. When I did not have money she was kind enough to help me and stand by me. My father had taught me that – Sab Usool Se Chalega. All this while have tried to maintain a clean slate. I had to travel between Lucknow and Kanpur on LML scooter so that we could work on setting up a printing press in the nearby city.
As an eager learner he said, “ It is because of my innate interest to learn that I have been to various exhibitions in cities like Noida, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore to name a few. I have also attended several seminars to keep myself up to date. If I talk of 2022 – 23 then my turnover has been in crores. A lot of that it is because I use the latest technology and boast of the best clientele. Among the top brands in associations with us are GVK, ITC and Spencer.
Carrying the legacy forward
Talking about the next generation, he says – I have helped my daughter Innama Akbar become a job giver, instead of being a job seeker. She has done her MBA from Lucknow University and she is also an IT College alumnus. She single handedly looks after Finance, Purchase and Payment. My daughter will lead the Gumming Sheet Plant that is slated to come up come up at the Sandila industrial Estate a shade and a Monty have already been set up. I have also involved one child each of my 5 sisters. There is a son of my sister who is now doing very well in the Marketing sector. One of my sisters passed away. Her son is doing exceedingly well in computer design. He has now joined Spencer as marketing manager at a huge sum. In future I would I want to improve my legacy by connecting more people and opening avenues for employment generation.
Lending hand in Hard Times
During Corona, like many others they faced multiple challenges but one found ways and means to keep oneself engaged. Mohd Alim and his team is no exception. He and his team tried to give back to society whenever possible. He recalls how he and his team during Corona pandemic printed banners to spread the word on protocols during COVID – 19. They did quality messaging free of cost across the city. As a gesture to give back to society they also helped underprivileged and the specially able. They gave 50 rupees to post small banners at medical stores. They touched nearly 300 such lives. It has been a collective effort, he says adding – many have been working for almost 15 to 20 years no one is owner no one is servant. We work together, we play together.
Signing off, he shares his mantra – My message to the people is simple. Keep focus on the target, stay on the route, don’t confuse and most importantly try avoiding any liability of sorts in future.