Much like the waves beneath them, the work of sea freight companies and stevedores is ceaseless. Staying afloat to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of today’s customers requires constant reinvention.
Throughout the existence of Bothra Group, one of India’s leading stevedoring services, there’s been a continuous churning of innovation that’s taken the company from traditional manual operations to complete mechanization.
Beyond that, the leadership of the promoters and senior management has steered the company into the world of terminal management.
“Traditionally, Bothra Shipping has been a stevedoring company, but we’ve transformed it into a terminal and port management company on the domestic side,” President and CEO Suresh Kumar tells The CEO Magazine.
“Overseas, we’re getting into third-party freighting services and we also own shipping assets. In the eight years I’ve been in this role, we’ve constantly tried to reinvent ourselves by looking at the opportunities before us.”
And many of those are tied to Bothra Group’s customers, who are just as innovative. “We deep dive into our clients’ expectations and aspirations,” he says. “We study their growth plan and ideate the role we could play in those larger plans.”
The company was founded in the 1900s, one of the first stevedoring service providers in India, as Sarat Chatterjee and Co. The business was acquired by Bothra Group’s Founder, the late Ravi Chand Bothra, in 1975, with a vision of a fully mechanized stevedoring system in place and it became a solid foundation for what was to come.
Similarly, Kumar’s own decades of experience in the field, including 10 years with a marine consulting firm and nearly 15 years in MSPL’s shipping and exports divisions, set the stage for Bothra Group’s next phase.
“We’ve tried to stay up to speed with India’s rapid development,” Kumar says. “We started mechanized terminals and from there, moved to heavy investment in port equipment and infrastructure.”
In 2016, Bothra Group acquired its first ship. Today, it owns five. “We also have a fleet of six long-term charter ships. It’s been a metamorphosis for us,” he says.
As it has been for Kumar personally.
Over the next five years, Bothra Group plans to expand upon the 40 million-odd metric tons of terminal management it has put in place along India’s east coast, including lifting equipment by Liebherr and Konecranes, and grabs by PEINER SMAG Machinery India.
“We’re hoping to reach 50 million [metric] tons and eventually become a 100-million terminal capacity company,” Kumar reveals. “That’s not only in India, but wherever opportunities arise. We’ve poured close to half a billion dollars into new assets, including new building orders. We’ll have a fleet of close to 20 ships by 2026.”
With innovation in the space moving at light speed, it’s no surprise Bothra Group intends to stay laser focused on staying ahead of the technology curve. But Kumar, who works across the business in both India and Singapore, says the business ultimately comes down to relationships.
“People put their trust in us and that’s how we build our relationships with partners and clients,” he explains.
“Bothra is a company that prides itself on being an innovative solutions provider in the supply chain management domain. Service is at the top of our agenda and word of mouth has carried that reputation around the world. There’s a tremendous feel-good factor in what we do.”
As clients continue to put their goods in Bothra Group’s hands for safe passage, Kumar says the company is committed to maintaining that trust.
“We’re a part of our clients’ success stories, just as they have been a part of our growth story,” he points out.
The fortunes of an innovative, end-to-end multimodal logistics service provider come and go with the tide, but Kumar believes Bothra Group has made sure its success is based on sturdier stuff.
“Bothra is not just a business, it’s an idea that had tremendous business potential,” he says, “Every day, my team and I work to realize that potential, and both we and our stakeholders alike enjoy the benefits.”