Why Tara Patnaik is more than a business doyen?

by Akankshya Mahapatra

Tara Ranjan Patnaik, Chairman, Falcon Group

A Samaritan when a crisis strikes, Tara Ranjan Patnaik stands out as one of the rare breed of entrepreneurs. At the peak of the last Covid outbreak and while the State was on lockdown to contain its spread, Patnaik was the first corporate leader from Odisha to contribute to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund voluntarily. It was this generosity of the doyen of Odisha Inc that inspired other corporate leaders to contribute with a spirit of generosity. A reflective example he gave to the corporates when the state was in the grip of a health crisis! A strong sense of empathy animates his life. He succeeds not just by setting new highs for his business but by working to enhance people’s quality of life.

“The Chief Minister first announced that a fund had been set up for COVID. I donated money with a purpose that other industrialists will also come forward to extend their help during the crisis. I just wanted them to give some funding for Odisha. Our work was not limited to funds alone. We even arranged meals for many people during the pandemic. We helped people in every way possible”, he recalled.

When the Covid 19 started wreaking havoc in the state, he was the first off the blocks and contributed Rs 1 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) and appealed to fellow entrepreneurs to chip in with generous contributions to go fight the pandemic.

He’s a hard-nosed businessman. Though a business man by accident (he comes from a family of lawyers and aspired to be one), he has achieved dizzying heights in marine foods business. That apart, he has diversified to steel and real estate verticals and has earned stripes there too. Patnaik is never the business leader to squat on his laurels. He is ambitious and the energy to move on is always within him. Someday, he aspires to touch the $1 billion in turnover. One of the driving factors to reach that goal is commencing business in USA, one of the coveted markets for seafood trade.

“Indian shrimps are being exported to different parts of the world. But the United States is still the best market. The United States is a country that does not buy chemical-induced products. We are planning to deal with Amazon in the United States. We were dealing with American majors like Walmart, Costco and Cisco. But they will get better prices from Amazon, as they will be able to get online orders and deliver directly”, said he.

Apart from nursing overseas business ambition, Patnaik is mindful of the domestic operations which he intends to scale up. “Our Bhubaneswar and Balasore units have a total daily production capacity of 250 metric tonnes. We are investing more in the factory. We have spent Rs 30 crore and ordered 7 new machines. We have enough space. Only new machines have to be installed”.

For someone who has achieved phenomenal success in his chosen field, Tara Ranjan’s first foray into business was an unmitigated disaster. Prodded on by his friend and classmate J Rahmat, he ventured into the trawler business in the mid-1980s, buying four trawlers after taking a Rs 2 lakh loan from the Odisha State Financial Corporation (OSFC). But with little idea about how to run the business, his first venture failed badly and Tara Ranjan had to sell off his trawlers to pay off the loan.

There is no dearth of Odias who have made it in various fields. But Tara Ranjan belongs to that rare breed who has achieved enviable success in an area where there are very few success stories – and that too without any business background.

Yet, Tara Ranjan is much more than a successful businessman. Having come up the hard way, he understands the necessity of employment in a state like Odisha. Falcon has over 5,000 employees. He is a philanthropist to the core.

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