Business Elevated Podcast (Episode 8)
This podcast is the eighth in a series featuring business and government leaders discussing what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. It includes a conversation between the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s Regional Director for International Trade and Diplomacy, Franz Kolb, Mr. Swapnil Mekal, managing partner at Supercraft Elastomers Pvt. Ltd., and Dr. Ashok Joshi, two esteemed businessmen from India.
Welcome to the Business Elevated Podcast, where we discuss what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. Did you know Utah is frequently ranked the best state for business by Forbes? This podcast is a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Thanks for joining the conversation.
Franz Kolb (0:21): This is Franz Kolb with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Business Elevated. We are delighted to welcome, today for this podcast, one of my favorite people that I have met in my career, Dr. Ashok Joshi. Dr. Joshi, welcome to the podcast.
Dr. Ashok Joshi (0:41): Thank you, Franz.
Franz Kolb (0:43): And we are very grateful for you that you also brought Mr. SV Mekalm from Mumbai, India. Welcome, Mr. Mekalm.
Swapnil Mekalm (0:54): Thank you so much.
Franz Kolb (0:55): Wonderful. Let’s start out with a Dr. Joshi. This afternoon. Dr. Joshi, could you tell us a little bit, you came from India many years ago and you have been a very successful businessman here. What are your… why do you like Utah? Tell us a bit about your business experience that you’ve had over the years in Utah.
Dr. Ashok Joshi (1:22): That’s a great question, Franz. I came to Utah in 1984, so I’ve been here now almost for 35 years.
Franz Kolb (1:35): Long time.
Dr. Ashok Joshi (1:36): And one of the things that I liked about Utah is it’s not only culture — culture is fantastic — but it’s a most friendly state in United States, and that I realized and that’s the reason I could do what I could do in Utah. And so I acquired the company, I sold the companies, I created spinoffs. And that’s because it’s such a great business culture here.
Franz Kolb (2:15): What industry sector did you work in?
Dr. Ashok Joshi (2:18): Mostly in a ceramics and electrochemical industries.
Franz Kolb (2:25): How have you found, the Utah employees, were you satisfied [with] how they worked for you?
Dr. Ashok Joshi (2:33): This is the best thing that I realized, what you are asking me, the work it takes in this state is amazing. Amazing. They get the work done. I told this, my friends, here from India, I told them this is the best state you will find. Most of business friendly and they are looking for probably collaborations here. And so I want to put India and my state in India, Maharashtra, together.
Franz Kolb (3:04): Well thank you very much for this very positive endorsement. We are very, very grateful. And we are also grateful for the bridges that you have built when it comes to education in India. Whether it’s the Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College, University of Utah, Utah State University. We are so grateful. I think there’s some great potential. And I still remember in 2007 when Governor Huntsman took a trade mission to Delhi and Mumbai and some of the results were just phenomenal, and so we are very grateful to you.
Dr. Ashok Joshi (3:45): Thank you, Franz. Thank you. It’s a great opportunity for me to do this.
Franz Kolb (3:50): Well, thank you. So now you brought Mr. Mekalm from Superkraft Elastomers with us from Mumbai. Welcome, Mr. Mekalm.
Swapnil Mekalm (3:59): Thank you so much.
Franz Kolb (4:01): Now you have just been… how many days have you been in Utah and in the United States?
Swapnil Mekalm (4:07): For the last 72 hours.
Franz Kolb (4:10): So we have on one side, we have Dr. Joshi since 1984 and we have you here for 72 hours.
Swapnil Mekalm (4:18): Youngest person.
Franz Kolb (4:21): So we are very, very grateful. What are your impressions after 72 hours?
Swapnil Mekalm (4:27): Oh, it’s yes, yes. Like you said. I’ve been traveling all along in United States, but this is the first time I’m coming to Utah. And my impression is this so interesting. So it’s basically affiliation for the motherland. People are so nice here, so courteous. Unlike other states. There are so many states in the United States but unlike other states. I find a big difference between them and Utah because the attitude, the approach and the comprehension or assessment to help the people is far too superior than any other states.
Franz Kolb (5:11): Well, thank you very much for these very kind words. We are very grateful. Mr. Mekalm, tell us a little bit about India, about your business, what you’re doing and the purpose of your visit of coming over here.
Swapnil Mekalm (5:29): We are in the business of making automobile… rubber components for the automotive industry. We make rubber-to-metal parts, which is a highly specialized technology. And we make the components and parts and supply to the vehicle manufacturers in our country. And also one of the biggest customers for me is General Motors, Detroit. We export a lot of things to General Motors, Detroit.
We are in the business for the last 50 years, five-zero. I’m basically a mechanical engineer. My son is an automobile engineer. And it’s a family, group of family company. We are three families owning this entire group and group activities and we are associated for the last 50 years, which is something unusual for Indians to be staying together.
My purpose of coming to you here, there are a couple of reasons. One is a new generation of our next generation is quite enthusiastic. They’re knowledgeable and they wish to do something good, which is not only for the country but for the society too. Because everybody makes either bill money or lose money in the business, but the responsibility to the attribution to the society is also equally important. We care a lot and we follow Dr. Joshi’s philosophy of helping the society, the poor and the children, especially for coming up in their lives.
Franz Kolb (7:21): Very nice.
Swapnil Mekalm (7:24): We have about 200 students to whom we support whenever they ask for.
Franz Kolb (7:32): Well, that’s really beautiful because I can see you’re making impacts on young people for future generations. I think that is… I want to congratulate you for that. That’s very nice. So…
Swapnil Mekalm (7:51): My purpose?
Franz Kolb (7:52): Yes, please.
Swapnil Mekalm (7:53): As I’ve said, this new generation wants to do something bigger and bigger. It is not that we’re not doing good, but the tide is coming that the world is becoming so small, so why not unite together and do something nicely and in a disciplined and systematic way? Wherein, I get the technology and I use the concepts of the technology to do the betterment of the concepts and thoughts. I’m looking out for some sources or connections in Utah, wherein I get the technology and we can work jointly together. It need not be the automotive industry, because the automotive industry is my hometown but then maybe not the automotive industry. But, it could be any industry wherein a joint venture is a thought in my mind where maybe we can do something together in Utah or we can do something together in India, in Maharashtra. It could be either way, whatever the best scenario demands for, it can be done.
So one thing I’m looking for is a joint venture. The second thing is good sources for technology. The third thing is manufacturing, contract manufacturing. If you have 10 product concepts and you have to get it made, I’m there to work together with you on a long-term basis so that business-wise it becomes more profitable, reliable and for the mutual benefits of the organizations.
Franz Kolb (9:35): Wonderful. Well, that’s really exciting that you are diversifying a little bit and we in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development also have a group called the Procurement Technical Assistance Center. One group that is helping companies get government contracts, and so the smaller companies can work as a sub-contractors for example, to get to contract with prime contractors and so on and so forth. I think we could introduce you to some of those people. We also have with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, a contract with the World Trade Center, Utah. They’re having somebody that works on foreign direct investment. We could introduce you there too, but I think what’s important is when you come to us, we want to make sure that we are just like what Dr. Joshi has been doing building this bridge between Utah and India. I think that’s important.
I remember Mr. Huntsman, the Governor Huntsman. His commitment to India and also at that time Lieutenant Governor Herbert and current Governor Herbert would be very grateful for their commitments and trade missions and so on and so forth. So we are really looking forward to welcoming you back.
And if any of our listeners would like to have the information on Mr. SV Mekalm, director of Superkraft Elastomers in Mumbai, India, please feel free to contact us. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. This is Franz Kolb for Business Elevated in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development at the State of Utah.
Thanks for listening to the Business Elevated podcast, a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Listen to other episodes where you get your podcasts or at business.utah.gov.