ARSHI a proprietory firm is about 12 years old in Goa, but its business has a colorful history dating from mid-1970s in Lucknow to running a profitable business in Verna Goa.
ARSHI Goa located in Verna Industrial Estate is owned by VJ Singh who endorses Thoreau’s belief: “That government is best which governs not at all.” All my life, he says, I tried to provide facilities for our employees who were always considered as coworkers and encouraged to develop ideas and products.
The company produces 50 tons plus packaged air conditioners and others, moreover the coworkers are encouraged to develop their ideas into their profession resulting in top of the range products. The company has built three 50 tons packaged air conditioners for Schiffer and Menezes in Verna Goa.
Members of ARSHI Group has engineered liquid chillers, cooling towers, packaged air conditioning units, air handling units, filtration, deodorizing and air purification equipment, variable air volume units, ventilation and extract air systems, refrigeration and food preservation plants using tools and technology that included ultra violet light, sound analyzer and purpose built working models of systems to better train technicians and engineers to grasp the fundamentals of design concepts so that an atmosphere of continuous research and development is maintained. The company was established in 1984 in Sharjah UAE.
At the young age of 15 he recalls an argument with a relative about corruption in India. “My father was a railway official known for his integrity while this relative believed that one could not be successful in business without cutting corners and indulging in sharp practices. I could not concur with his assertions and as a respectful youngster held my tongue. However, I vowed to myself to prove him wrong.
VJ spent his time watching mechanics ply their trade and was able to repair and overhaul most mechanical and electrical appliances and machinery at home. His father understood his passion and allowed him to skip BSc after completing the first of two years to let him join an automobile training center and become a mechanic.
Two years on, VJ decided it would be better to join Allahabad Polytechnic where his practical knowledge helped him obtain top grades. He did even better in his Post Diploma in AC & Refrigeration.
With some difficulty he was able to join a premier Air Conditioning Company as a Trainee in Delhi and worked free for six months. When a vacancy arose, the position was filled with someone who had influence and in disgust VJ resigned and returned to Gorakhpur for advice and help from his father who helped him set up a small workshop for repairs and maintenance of electro mechanical equipment. He was joined by two trainees and the three tried to make the venture a success. It was here that VJ showed his hidden talent of motivating associates to bring out the best in them.
In late 1973, VJ moved to Chandigarh gifting half of the tools and furniture of the business to the workers so that they could continue as owners of the trade.
VJ tried working from his father’s house but due to lack of experience in handling financial matters he gave up to join his alma mater in Allahabad Polytechnic as an Instructor. The three months rejuvenated his depressed spirit so much so that VJ cheerfully volunteered to teach extra classes.
In 1996 a family member arrange a visa, give him a one way air ticket and 1000 Dirhams to try his career in Dubai. He joined General Enterprises Co as an engineer in the Design and Sales Department. On matters of principles he resigned after six months. He joined John & John Partners a firm owned by two brothers from Kerala. He helped them get a prestigious contract in Umm Al Quwain. Unfortunately political considerations resulted in cancellation of the contract to favour the influential and VJ was forced to fend for himself.
In February 1977 Hall Thermotank Medafric appointed him as Design Engineer in Dubai. His work was appreciated and he was given excellent facilities to broaden his scope. He was also given charge to establish a branch in Abu Dhabi but was brought back to Dubai as per the desire of the managing director to placate their associates there.
A slump in the international oil prices slowed down the economy and in 1980 he was terminated when he refused to lie low.
This followed by a short stint with another Arab firm that saw him resign again on the very day his joy a three-month old daughter arrived in Dubai. Since then I’ve never worked as an employee again, he says.
With his experience in setting up AC establishments, APV Starmaker Engineering was established in Ajman in early 1981. His next opportunity was with a Construction Company to set up a multimillion dollar Central AC Division for their project in Bagdad Iraq.
After a year VJ decided to return to the UAE empty handed but with renewed hope. With a small loan he established ARSHI AC & Refrigeration Company in Sharjah in 1984. The hard knocks had toughened his outlook and resulted in new ventures in Fujairah Free Zone and a Factory with a Training Center in Verna Goa.
With the sudden passing away of his wife in 2005 VJ spent his entire energy and resources in imparting relevant education to his staff. At ARSHI, all members are exhorted to build their character and try to become self sufficient through upgrade of skills.
Goans are no less hard working as those from other states and I have seen both men and women Goan adivasis build my house and our factory. What they need is a sense of direction and motivation that I am trying to do, he avers.
It was 15 years ago that I undertook a visit to several states and cities in India to find a suitable place to adopt my own after decades being an NRI and saw in Goa tremendous potential for growth and relaxation.
Goa is the only state in India to have a uniform civil code that has been adopted by all developed countries in the world.
Normally the package for air conditions are made of two tons, but Sethia, an air-condition and ventilation expert, makes 50 tones plus customised products and exports it to the Middle East where his children runs a factory in UAE set up by Sethia in the 90s.