Mahashay Dharam Pal Gulati, the nonagenarian entrepreneur who has over the years become synonymous with his spices brand MDH, or Mahashian Di Hatti, truly embodies the phrase ‘rags-to-riches.’ Having struggled through adversities, and tragic losses, to eventually emerge triumphant in a new India. Mahashay’s story will continue to inspire for ages.
Born in 1923, in Sialkot, which is now in Pakistan, Dharampal dropped out of school after class 5 and tried in his hands at a variety of trades, including selling soaps, mirrors, and carpentry, before joining his father’s spices shop, which quickly became popular, known locally as the ‘Deggi Mirch Wale.’
However, things took a turn for the worse in 1947. The family had to leave everything and move to India following the partition. With just Rs. 1,500, Dharampal ventured to New Delhi and purchased a horse-drawn cart for Rs. 650, which he then used to ferry people around town along with his brother.
Dharampal soon saved enough to buy a small 126 square foot shop in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, restarting his family spices business again, and eventually, regaining the same fame with word spreading about the quality of the ‘Sialkot’s Spicemakers’ and the MDH Masala. With business growing, MDH soon opened another store and bought land to set up its first factory in 1959.
MDH was the first company to introduce packaged spice mixes, which eventually turned the company and the Spice King into a household name. The company continued to double-down on commercials and branding, and during a commercial shoot, when an actor failed to show up, Dharampal decided to step in and has since been the company’s face.
With over 60 leading products across categories, MDH is the second-largest player in the spices market, with a 12% market share. In its latest fiscal year, the company posted sales worth Rs. 2,000 crores, with a net income of Rs. 420 crores. Dharampal himself took home a salary of Rs. 21 crores, making him the highest-paid CEO in the FMCG sector.
The persistent popularity of its products and a loyal customer base that swears by MDH over the decades is a testament to its tireless pursuit of quality, ever since its first store in Sialkot, Pakistan. The Spice King’s customer-centric vision has paid off and is likely to result in steady dividends for years to come.
Going from a school dropout to the highest-paid CEO is no mean feat. Mahashay Dharampal Gulati remains committed to grassroots efforts, building a 200-bed hospital and over 20 schools for underprivileged children despite his resounding success. An estimated 90% of his salary is spent on such charitable causes.
IMG Source – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharampal_Gulati
In April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he donated 7,500 PPE kits in addition to a generous contribution to the Delhi CM’s Relief Fund, earning him personal gratitude from the Deputy Chief Minister of New Delhi, Manish Sisodia. In 2019, Dharam Pal Gulati was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the country’s third-highest civilian award for his contributions to the field of Food Processing, before passing on in December 2020, at the age of 97.