In the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety and security needs are placed just after our basic or physiological needs including food, water, air, shelter, sleep etc.
The security of our house and possessions are of paramount importance to all of us. A sturdy lock on the door gives most of us a sense of security. Probably Ardeshir Godrej realized this when he spotted business opportunity in manufacturing locks.
Here goes the story of the Godrej and Boyce that started as a lock making business, back in 1897. The logo is a signature of its founder Ardeshir Godrej in a running hand.
Locks and Safes
Starting his career as a lawyer, Ardeshir Godrej gave up law and forayed into business. After failing with a few businesses, he turned to lock making. Renting a tiny shed in Mumbai’s Lalbaug area in 1897, Ardeshir established a lock manufacturing company and a few years later he started manufacturing safes.
In 1906, Ardeshir’s younger brother, Pirojsha Godrej, joined him in the business. From locks, Ardeshir moved on to make safes and security equipment, and then to soaps. Thereafter they got into office equipment like typewriters and also home refrigerators.
Here’s an interesting story about how the company got its name Godrej & Boyce. Mehrwanji Cama, an old Parsi gentleman was Ardeshir Godrej’s main financier in the early days. When Ardeshir went to repay the loan, Mehrwanji refused to accept the loan, and instead asked Ardeshir to take his nephew Boyce into the business. Hence, the name Godrej & Boyce. Boyce eventually exited the business, but his name lives on.
Innovation ran in the DNA of the company. Ardeshir won a patent for a lock without springs, which was more difficult to pick than the locks in use, and patents for innovations in safe making. When wood and teak was in vogue, Godrej introduced Storwel, the first dual-purpose steel cupboard for home and office.
Godrej Storewel – Once a prized possession
The Godrej steel cupboard became a staple in the Indian homes, and was look upon as a symbol of status and safety. In his book Godrej: A Hundred Years, author B.K. Karanjia mentions that during a severe explosion in a freighter at the Bombay Docks that killed over 800 people on April 14, 1944, and badly damaged the docks, it was found that the Godrej safes, installed in the offices of the merchants at the docks, remained intact in spite of being battered and disfigured. The event added to Godrej’s reputation.
It almost became a ritual, for parents in many Indian households, to present Godrej steel almirah, as a wedding gift to their daughter. As per a survey in 1991, Godrej Storewel was the second most frequently cited favourite possession, by women in India.
Gradually, the name Storewel came to be used for any steel cupboard.
Shifting preferences with changing times
However, the changing times in the late nineties saw the lessening of the importance of steel cupboards at homes as people in urban areas started storing valuables in banks. Aesthetically appealing wooden cupboards again started gaining preference at homes over steel cupboards.
In offices too, with the increasing use of computers to store data, the requirements to store physical files in cupboards went down. As space became a premium, the demand for space-consuming Godrej cupboards went down.
Additionally, facing stiff competition from the unorganised sector manufacturers, who had a price advantage, Godrej started losing its market share.
Revitalizing the business
As Storwel’s fortunes started dipping, the company rejigged its manufacturing operations to reduce inventory levels and lead time. They moved towards having customer-driven design, providing more flexibility to their customers design the interiors of the cupboard.
Godrej Interio, the business unit of Godrej & Boyce, that was earlier manufacturing mainly furniture for commercial offices and the Storwel cupboard for the home segment, now has a diverse portfolio with an increased focus on the home segment.
More than a century later, Godrej has presence in several sectors including consumer goods, real estate, appliances, agri and modern security products.
The company went through a rebranding exercise to connect with the youth and that began with a change in its logo. The 112 year old red logo got a makeover in 2008, and was replaced with a bright rainbow coloured cursive signature of the founder. The slogan, ‘Brighter Living‘, gave a vibrant feel to the group.
The name Godrej is a household name that inspires trust and reliability and now with its contemporary positioning the brand is sure to enhance its emotive appeal among the youth.
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