The story of the N R Group of Mysuru and its FounderN Ranga Rao is inspiring. It’s not the typical "rags to riches" story but it comes close. His dedication, hard work and entrepreneurship qualities stand out in this story of grit and determination penned by R. Uday Kumar.
With the untimely demise of his father, NR Group Patriarch, N Ranga Rao was faced with the responsibility of raising a large family from a very young age. He had to work hard to earn a living in Coorg. In order to enhance his income, he started providing tuitions for his classmates and even seniors. When he was just 11 years old, he started selling biscuits to augment his income.This attracted his peers to the business and he facedcompetition. But his competitors didn’t bargain for Ranga Rao’s inherent business acumen. He attracted customers to his wares by providing peppermint along with the biscuit and beat the competition. That tradition continues as the third generation of Raos who now run the business seem to have inherited his business acumen.
Like most people in those days, Ranga Rao too started his career, working in a coffee estate which is the life blood of the Kodagu District. But he was not satisfied with his employment. The entrepreneur in him urged him move on to other things. After independence, in 1948 he felt the time was right for him to start something on his own. Together with his family which included his seven sons Guru, Murthy, Vasu, Sridhar, Krishna, Venkatesh and Mohan, he moved to Mysuru with his modest savings of Rs:500. He started his success story trading in various products and then saw an opportunity in the Agarbathi industry.
Ranga Rao was a man of great vision, foresight and dreamt of building a value-driven business. Early on in life he realized the value of a brand and branded his incense sticks Cycle, which has the same meaning in all Indian languages. The logo also had a picture of a bicycle to match, and thus was born a brand which symbolised honesty and true value for money.
Currently, the CyclePure Brand is a household name not only across the country but also in more than 65 foreign countries. Annually the flagship of the group manufactures 10 billion incense sticks with even megastars Amitabh Bachhan and SauravGanguly endorse the brand.
Today, the group is managed by the third generation of Ranga Rao family-Arjun Ranga, Pavan Ranga, Kiran Ranga, Vishnu Ranga and Anirudh Ranga. Under the leadership of the millenials, the company is growing rapidly.
With a series of marketing, research, product, packaging and organisational innovations, the enterprise has evolved from an incense stick manufacturer to one that provides a wide range of solutions in the natural aroma and fragrance industry in the country. Over the last 68 years, the group has diversified into various sectors and become a name to reckon with in each one of them.
Among the seven different NR Group of Companies, N. Ranga Rao & Sons (Manufacturers of Cycle Pure Agarbathies) established in 1948 is the world leader and the only Certified Carbon Neutral Agarbathi manufacturing company. The company is presently headed by Arjun Ranga, Managing Director for NR Group as well as Cycle Pure Agarbathies.
The other NR Group companies include Ripple Fragrances Private Limited (Manufacturers and Marketers of Functional and Aircare lifestyle Products); NESSO-Natural & Essential Oils Private Limited (NESSO is the global leader in Indian floral extracts, which has seven extraction facilities strategically located near cultivation clusters in South India with a capacity to process 12 tons of fresh flowers daily); Rangsons Defence Solutions (the Defence and Aerospace System Solutions) which is a fast growing product design house focusing on Aerospace and Defence sectors; Rangsons Schuster Technologies (Creating Aircraft Arteries) which is a leading manufacturer of Aviation Tubes and Hoses in India; NR Foundation which is non-profit, charitable arm of the NR Group and N Ranga Rao & Sons Exports, is the ambassador of Indian aroma traditions and successfully exports incense and other group products to more than 65 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Far East and North America.
N Ranga Rao & Sons Exports has received many prestigious awards for excellence in international business and had a winning streak with the Government of India Export Award in the incense category. The company is also currently headed by Arjun Ranga, Managing Director, Cycle Pure Agarbathies.
Speaking to Karnataka Today, Arjuna Ranga said, “My grandfather and father set up the business very well. They laid a good foundation which made our job a bit easy. I took up the responsibility from the year 2000. Since then we are building the business by bringing in more technology and taking up a lot of innovative measures. Now we have more than 150 products which are not only famous across the country but also spread in 60 different countries including Brazil, US, Chile, South East Asia and Singapore. We want to grow further by coming out with multiple pooja products. We have also planned to come out with exclusive oil for Pooja. We also provide 3000 direct jobs and more than 25,000 indirect jobs.
Promotion of Sports
The N R Group focusses not only on its business but also tries to give back to society in many different ways especially by supporting sports persons. For many outstanding sports persons, it lends a helping hand with financial assistance.It is also an active player in the premier T20 cricket tournament of Karnataka – the Karnataka Premier League (KPL). The Cycle Pure Brand sponsors one of the KPL franchisees – the Mysore Warriors. Many who have played for this franchisee went on to be picked by Indian Premier League franchisees and even played for the national team. Manish Pandey and J. Suchit are two that come to mind. Presenting the Mysore Warriors team when it was launched, Mr. Arjun Ranga, Managing Director, Cycle Pure Agarbathies said, “It gives me immense pleasure to present the Mysore Warriors team. We at Cycle Pure Agarbathies have a legacy of nurturing sporting talent, especially cricketing talent in the country. Mysore Warriors is an extension of this vision. We hail from Mysore and it is a matter of great pride for us to discover the hidden talent in the region and give them a chance to exhibit their skills”. In fact, we are confident that in the next 3-5 years at least 2 players from the team will be able make it to the national cricketing arena,” added Arjun Ranga.
Vision for the visually challenged girls
The N R Foundation also runs the Ranga Rao Memorial School for the Disabled [RMSD]. This is a free residential school for visually challenged girls from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds, giving them he training and confidence to be economically independent and socially self-reliant. It is the only school in Karnataka which is exclusively for girls. The current strength of the school is 100, with a committed set of teachers and the Ranga family members serving them for the last 30 years. Students who passed out from the school are today working in various institutions and leading a life with dignity which stands testimony to the noble work initiated by the NR group.