Pics: Dayanand Kukkaje
Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Mar 14: City-based entrepreneur Lawrence D’Costa is a rare breed of entrepreneur who tasted success taking a second shot at the working life at 60. Energetic and passionate, drawing on a lifetime of experience of over 4 decades of salaried corporate and academic life, Lawrence enjoys the second innings of his career life as an entrepreneur and the freedom that comes with it - to be his own boss and having the satisfaction of making his own decisions.
He started his foray into business with his venture - Canara Plastics and Engineering which manufactures blow moulded and injection moulded items in 2002. Of course he enjoyed his stint working in different organisations, different places and in diverse capacities including his years as an academician moulding young and impressionable MBA students at TAPME Manipal and MBA students of other institutions.
“The best part of my life was as an academician teaching at TAPME. I came across some of the best brains and teaching them was something which I enjoyed the most. I was teaching engineers some of who had working experience and I had to keep myself updated as a teacher. It was quite challenging and enjoyed every bit of it,” he recalls with glee. But getting into business was akin to what can be termed as a perfect ‘retirement plan’ which in reality kept him busy working. In other words it proved to be the precursor to his second innings career wise.
Leveraging the lifetime of experience and expertise
Armed with energy that is tempered by maturity and knowledge Lawrence continues his journey as an entrepreneur with a penchant for trying out new avenues. Age hasn’t withered his enthusiasm and even at 80 he continues to manage his business with the same energy and passion with which he started Canara Plastics and Engineering in Baikampady Industrial Area, Mangaluru 20 years ago. Now he even plans to diversify his business by getting into PET bottle manufacturing business which he feels has limitless growth potential. “Expanding is essential for any business to keep going. Otherwise business cannot survive long,” he reasons.
The idea of getting into business was given by his cousin who was into similar kind of business in Bengaluru. His cousin had given up the business in Bengaluru but he gave a suggestion of Lawrence to get into manufacturing of injection and moulding items. He took the advice and on hindsight believes he did the right thing. Canara Plastics and Engineering is now the leading manufacturer of industrial/jerry cans, jars, plastic bottles, water jugs, plastic buckets and Welding Rods in Mangaluru. He has purchased half an acre of land from KIADB and has set up his factory in Baikampady. His products are in great demand among coconut oil dealers in different parts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. He supplies his products like jerry cans and jars and bottles to coconut oil sector, chemical companies, distilled water supply firms and food manufacturing companies and many other companies that need bottles to store their products.
Every day, Lawrence starts from his home in Valencia at 9 am to drives to his factory to oversee the work and works till 6 pm and then drives back. He attributes his physical and mental fitness to his work, busy schedule, a tempered life, a routine work schedule and most importantly having no bad habits.
Ploughing his knowledge to students as a teacher
The journey to success of Lawrence D’Costa makes quite an interesting reading. After completing his graduation in psychology from St Aloysius College, Mangaluru, he joined Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) for his post-graduation where his training was basically in factory management. Soon after, he joined Estrela Batteries in Mumbai and worked there for a year. He then came down to Bengaluru and joined San Engineering & Locomotives in the HR department. He also completed his law degree during his tenure in Bengaluru. He then worked in Karwar for Ballapur Industries before shifting to Mangaluru for good. Due to his children’s education he came to Mangaluru and joined MCF as personnel manager looking after the HR departments of Mangaluru and Bengaluru.
In the meanwhile it was teaching that beckoned him as he wanted to plough back his knowledge and experience to young minds. He joined TAPME Manipal handling law and human resource subjects and he says he enjoyed this stint at TAPME the most. His tenure with TAPME lasted 12 years and he also rendered his part time services as an academician to AJ School of Management and Mangaluru Institute of Engineering and Technology, Moodbidri. Another golden feather in his crown is that he was the founder and principal of Milagres Degree College, Mangaluru in the year 2010.
The family support
In the last 20 years Lawrence D’Costa has nurtured his company like a child spending his time and energy. His three sons are professionals who have carved out their own careers in diverse fields both in India and abroad. “Though physically they aren’t involved in the day today running of the company their constant support and involvement is always there,” he asserts. His eldest son Deepak, a mechanical engineer is working in the US and has evinced keen interest in this business. Second son Dinesh is a chemical engineer and third son Dheeraj D’Costa who has done his MBA, is involved in his own business of inventory management. “My sons and I discuss and their valuable insight has contributed a great deal in the success of this business,” Lawrence avers. “Whenever they come to Mangaluru, they visit the factory and their involvement is what keeps me going with the diversification plan”, he adds. His wife Maria D’Costa, a retired professor of English and HOD at School of Social Work Roshni Nilaya Mangaluru, has also been the pillar of strength.
Getting the right reward for all the hard work is quite satisfying for an entrepreneur apart from the satisfaction that comes with it. Being your own master is just one of the aspects of running a successful business venture. Lawrence D’Costa has been able to provide employment to many, especially women and has thus contributed in his own way to empower women. “That I could something for others in a small way is quite satisfying both as an entrepreneur and as a human being”, he asserts.
Though diversification plans are in the offing, he says shortage of labour is the main issue he has been facing as of now which might slightly delay his plans. With his expansion plans, Lawrence is once proving that age is just a number. With his mental agility, physical ability, cosmic experience and business acumen it is just a matter of time to see him take giant strides in his journey as an entrepreneur with an ambition to diversify. He is surely an inspiration to the youth who harbour entrepreneurial ambitions.