For Dr AV Anoop, Managing Director of AVA Group, the biggest change he has seen in the 35 years he’s been with the business, is the growing preference for Ayurvedic products. Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine from India that was developed more than 5,000 years ago. The system is based on the belief that good health depends on a balance between mind, body and spirit. With the Sanskrit words ayur meaning life and veda meaning science or knowledge, Ayurveda also provides guidelines on diet, exercise and lifestyle recommendations.
AV Anoop has a PhD in philosophy from the Medicina Alternativa Institute, an affiliate of The Open International University for Complementary Medicines in Sri Lanka, and is an avid supporter of Ayurveda. During the 1980s, he joined his uncle’s soap-making business, Medimix, which has since become one of the largest Ayurvedic bath soap brands in India.
Medimix later became a part of the AVA Group of companies, specialising in a wide range of consumer products, with AV Anoop as Managing Director. Apart from its flagship product, Medimix, the company stocks a range of other personal care, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics products.
“When I took over, our product visibility was small,” AV Anoop tells The CEO Magazine. “Over the past 10 years, I’ve found that Ayurvedic products have become important globally and now have high visibility. Initially, there was some negativity towards Ayurvedic products. But now, the market is open to them.”
“We provide quality products,” AV Anoop adds. “No harmful ingredients are used in any of our products. Medimix is handmade and all our products are natural-based. So as a policy, we will not do anything to harm the environment or society.”
“We will not do anything to harm the environment or society.”
The company is also expanding its reach in several other industries. In the food industry, it recently acquired the Kerala-based spice and condiment brand, Melam. Further, it banded together with famous makeup artist Ambika Pillai to launch its new hair care and facial product brand, Kaytra.
AV Anoop also has plans for foot care products and for enhancing its online presence. AVA Group is also committed to furthering research on Ayurveda. It has an in-house research and development facility and testing laboratory, recognised by the Indian government’s Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Plus, it has the Sanjeevanam project, which provides the total health solutions of Ayurveda – naturopathy and yoga. This centre promotes Ayurveda as a way of life through physical fitness, health and happiness. And it has four divisions including treatment, a nature store, a beauty area and a restaurant.
Moreover, AV Anoop has plans to open a Sanjeevanam Ayurvedic hospital in Kerala. “Our focus with the hospital will be on traditional treatments, not just massage,” he adds.
The biggest challenge for AVA Group is the amount of competition present in each of its markets. “When launching new products, even established companies now find it difficult to gain entry,” AV Anoop says. “So we need to manage that. And if our products are not moving fast enough, we will take them off. But we’re enjoying this challenge. We have a very good marketing team. Our local market is very strong and every year we are able to increase the percentage of sales in our global market.”
AV Anoop highlights that the company has loyal customers, which is beneficial for it now and in the long-term. “We find most of the customers stick to our products,” he says. “They like the brand and they’re sticking with it. These days, you have so many choices that people tend to try every product. But our customers are loyal to us.”
Internal Success is overall success
The greatest lesson AV Anoop has learned over the years as Managing Director, is being able to accurately delegate tasks. He acknowledges that the company has very hardworking people but the key is to work smarter rather than harder. “My strategy is to identify those who are the best at processing compared with those who are more knowledgeable and delegate the work accordingly,” he says. When I delegate the work, I get better results.”
When it comes to the company’s internal operations, AV Anoop emphasises the importance of supporting the locals in each area it is in. “The first priority is human values,” he explains. “Whether it is your staff or your family, you need to consider everyone. Most of my workers are from low socio-economic backgrounds. So wherever we set up our factories, we decided to take only the locals – and we counsel them, train them, and teach them the importance of hygiene. Those who were on the streets are now leading a healthy life and have their own house. And we have so many women working with us; most of our workers are women.
“I believe our values and the relationships we have with our people are very important. Only with the support of the people at the different levels can a company can grow.” In addition, the company has a philanthropic arm called AVA Charitable Trust, which supports a range of community projects in health and education.
”When I delegate work, I get better results.”
This supportive attitude extends to AV Anoop’s approach to the company’s partners and suppliers. He notes that one of the group’s packing suppliers has been with the business for more than 40 years. “Most of our suppliers have been with us for almost the entire Medimix journey,” he says. “We work with them closely and help them to update their industry information and upgrade their technologies. We believe in relationships; when the relationship is good, you know the suppliers will take care of you. And most of our suppliers are growing along with us. So that’s a good indication of the success of the group.”