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The Kartarpur Corridor is a passageway of national importance that connects Gurudwara Dera Baba Nanak in India with Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan with the convenience of visa-free travel for Indian Sikhs who wish to visit the religious monument in Pakistan.
This corridor is a significant link that was built with the best interests of both countries in mind, and Managing Director Ramneek Sehgal is extremely proud of the fact that it was his company, Ceigall India, that was chosen for the construction of the Indian side of the corridor.
“We were awarded the Kartarpur Corridor, which connects India and Pakistan, a project of international importance for both countries. That was given to us without even tendering; that happened the first time in the history of the country,” he shares.
While most builders tend to concentrate on their specialty in construction, Ramneek took Ceigall through a diversified portfolio of projects ranging from engineering, procurement and construction contracts to hybrid annuity model (HAM) jobs, and operations and maintenance projects, to mention just a few.
“We started from road expressways then moved into structure work, elevated roads, expressways and then went into the tunnelling business and railway business, and we are also into roads over bridges. We love to transform and grow ourselves,” he explains.
Ramneek sees a lot of potential in HAM projects and maintenance contracts with the Indian government. Even now, Ceigall is working on a tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir.
As a hands-on Managing Director, he visits the construction sites often and stays connected with his staff constantly. He believes in cutting red tape at work and communicates key decisions to his employees through WhatsApp as well as email.
He is also very specific about the use of funds in the business, believing that being debt-free is already a hassle solved. So how does it manage that despite being such a large company? Ramneek says that while he acknowledges companies in his industry require plenty of machinery, Ceigall only buys machines when it’s absolutely necessary. “We just buy specialised machines, which are not available in the market. Otherwise, we hire, we take it on lease, or we take it on a buyback agreement,” he reveals.
“We are not limited to any area, we are not limited to any business, we are not limited to any kind of typical work. We are open to everything.”
Even in daily operations, Ceigall prefers to use cash for purchases instead of bank guarantees or letters of credit. This allows it to receive a discount from the supplier and keeps the company debt-free.
Ramneek is also proud of the fact that people who started their careers with him have remained at the company. He sees employees as stakeholders in the company. “When we grow, we want them to grow with us. They’re not our employees; they are our stakeholders,” he insists.
He believes in caring for his staff and proud to reveal that Ceigall is among the top-rated payers in the country. Having been a subcontractor before getting into full-time construction, Ramneek understands the value of on-time payments. He knows the contractor is likely to incur a loss when the payment is not made on time and ensures the company makes all payments as soon as bills are approved.
Projects like the Kartarpur Corridor, while a matter of prestige due to their national importance, are also a challenge for the same reason. “It was one of the biggest challenges we taken on, and we delivered ahead of time,” Ramneek says.
He sees each of these challenges as a way for the company to grow so to this end, Ceigall is expanding by operating in a variety of industries. “We are not limited to any area, we are not limited to any business, we are not limited to any kind of typical work,” he says. “We are open to everything.”
“When we grow, we want them to grow with us. They’re not our employees; they are our stakeholders.”
To Ramneek, success is not a measure or a number. “Success to me is how ethical you are, how grounded you are, how well you are connected with your team, your employees, the staff, and how well versed you are with the technicalities of your business, your machinery, your plants and your support system,” he says.
He also suggests keeping an open mind in order to take advantage of business opportunities. “Never get stuck to one thing. Whenever you have an opportunity, just move ahead,” he advises.