A lot more to stuff in

After cracking the premium category, Samsonite's Ramesh Tainwala wants a piece of the mass segment

Tushar Mane

"I travel 25 days a month. I don’t think my wife really minds,” says Ramesh Tainwala, sipping coffee at his spartan office in the Nashik district of Maharashtra. It’s the 54-year-old Tainwala’s second day at work after formally taking over as the global CEO of Samsonite International, the world’s biggest luggage maker. Based out of Hong Kong, the jet-setting Tainwala’s personal graph tells the amazing story of how a local vendor ended up heading the very MNC that was once his client. Tainwala, a postgraduate from BITS Pilani, began his career in 1981 with a plastic trading company. Five years later, he quit his job to start his own manufacturing unit that supplied plastic sheets to VIP Industries, which moulded them into suitcases. The turning point came in 1998, when Samsonite, after failing to woo VIP into a joint venture, entered into a partnership with Tainwala for his company to manufacture luggage for it in India. Two years later, after failing to making any big inroads into the domestic market, the US luggage major was all set to call it quits. That’s when Tainwala made a bold move.