It came as a complete surprise,” laughs Lachhman Das Mittal, referring to his debut last year on the list of the 100 richest Indians. With $785 million in his kitty, at 75th place, he is ahead of Naresh Goyal (Jet Airways), Onkar Kanwar (Apollo), Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Biocon) and Shobhana Bhartia (HT Media), among others. But clearly, this is not the achievement the 82-year-old Mittal is excited about. The founder and chairman of the Sonalika Group, whose company International Tractors (ITL) makes the Sonalika brand of tractors, beams when his son Amrit Sagar Mittal talks of how the company is climbing the ranks in the tractor market. “Last year, we displaced John Deere from the fourth place and we’re closing in quickly on Escorts,” says the ITL vice-chairman. “We grew by double digits last year even as the industry growth rate fell 3%,” adds the senior Mittal. Indeed, while market leader Mahindra & Mahindra’s (M&M) volumes fell 5% to 223,885 last fiscal, ITL saw sales climb 23% to 58,300.
Going for the till
Sonalika is looking to up the ante in the tractor market after ousting John Deere from fourth spot. Can it succeed?
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