Khaleed: an aluminating story
Most 12-year-old boys dream of becoming footballers or pilots. When Khaleed was 12, he did not have those dreams. This was a luxury that he could not afford to have.
His father had a small pastry shop in St Pierre and wanted to grow it bigger, so he applied for a loan at the bank to buy a bigger oven that was in those days made of bricks and stones. The family was overjoyed when the loan was approved, but when things were looking bright, tragedy struck. Khaleed’s father died one month after his loan was approved.
The family of five sons and four daughters that he left behind had to find ways to feed themselves while repaying the loan. The oldest child was only 14 years old and the youngest was only 2 years and none of them knew how to operate the oven. Khaleed’s mother had gathered some knowledge by helping her husband, so she started making cakes that Khaleed and his brothers went to sell on a bicycle at the bus stop and near the hospital in the locality.
The means were limited and after some time, Khaleed’s brother stopped school to start working at a sugar mill. As for Khaleed, he was now in CPE and he, in turn, left school to join a company called Teeluck Aluminium industries at Castel.
It was an 8 to 5 job and Khaleed was paid Rs 15 per day. That’s where Khaleed started to learn about aluminum products. One year later, he moved to another company, his salary rose from Rs15 to Rs 25, then again to Rs 80 at Chand Aluminium sometime later. Over the years, Khaleed kept shouldering more responsibilities and was put in charge when he joined SL Aluminium where he was paid a salary of Rs 300 daily.
By then, Khaleed was having clients coming to him directly for aluminum works. Eventually, he decided to start his own business. He was 18 years old by then and lived his job as a passion, often working 24h a day to deliver on his commitments. When reached 21, Khaleed realized that he needed stability in his personal life for his professional life to have a direction and he got married.
His early years were particularly tough. One time at New Year, after paying his workers, Khaleed did not have a single rupee left in his pocket; he could not do anything for his wife and children and could not take them out. Luckily for him, on the 3rd of January, a client came to see him for a new project and made a down payment. Khaleed was relieved; he was able to put a small sum aside to treat his family as a saving grace.
It took Khaleed 10 years in the business to get his first big client who required aluminum products for his 12 floors building. From then on, the bigger clients started trusting him, the architects developed confidence in his capabilities, and he was involved in building houses, hospitals, commercial buildings and in IRS projects.
Today his company JK Aluminium offers a range of products that includes louvers, casement, cladding, curtain walls, doors, mosquito nets, roller shutters, sliding foldings, skylights and shower screens. These help to shut out sunlight, keep out the cold and wet, enhance home and building’s security, protect the family from intruders and damage due to bad or severe weather conditions, while further adding a very stylish feature that reflects the style and taste of the homeowners.
After more than 32 years in business, Khaleed never takes any loan from the bank, partly as a reminiscence of his father’s experience but also because he initially did not have anything to offer a guarantee. Today JK Aluminium has its own factory on a plot of land that extends over 70, 000 sq ft.
Khaleed, however, believes that his biggest asset is the trust that his clients have in him. In fact, he does not have any salesman and relies only on his client’s recommendation. People keep coming to him after hearing about his commitment to delivering on his promises and on time. He remains accessible to his clients even after midnight and believes that if someone gives you his hard-earned money, you need to be worthy of it.
He works with the conviction that if someone works for himself, he must be willing to be a slave to his own company. Khaleed never took any salary from the business and has always reinvested whatever he earned into his business. He cheekily says that a guy needs to love his business as much as he loves his wife, if not more because if you are not able to make your business successful, you won’t be able to keep your wife happy.
JK Aluminium is today the only company that offers 10 years guarantee on its aluminum products that are resistant to gusts of wind of up to 280. In the future, Khaleed plans to produce his own raw materials locally and to export his products to Africa.