After falling in love with Goa during his visits as a student, Ashu Sareen decided to take the next step and move in. He is often called ‘Salim Bhai’ in the neighborhood of B B Borkar Road, Porvorim. What amuses him the most is that everyone seems to know him, and his Diamond Hardware store has become a landmark
What made you decide to start a business in Goa?
As a student, along with my colleagues, we would visit Goa during the holidays in the 90s. It was during these visits that a strong urge forced me to stay back. Unlike Punjab, I come from a place where everyone could be taken for granted. Goans are a simple lot and this has lured me to this paradise. I completed my degree in civil engineering and came to Goa in 1995, did computers from Aptech and worked for a local construction firm in Panaji for two years. In 1997, I decided to open a hardware store.
What was your toughest task in setting up business in Goa?
I had to start in a place in Porvorim which was practically a narrow road passing through a forest area. I was being dissuaded from taking it, but my gut feeling urged me to go ahead. I was reminded by well wishers that either way to Panaji or Mapusa it was a little over a kilometre. I eventually took the risk and purchased a 20 sq m shop for retailing hardware products. Initially, I started with plumbing, plywood, doors and window fitting supplies. And I was not well-versed in Konkani it was challenging for me.
And how did you overcome it?
Every morning at 8 a.m. I would start my work by visiting houses, ongoing projects, shop establishments and some small offices asking them to visit my shop for necessary maintenance and repairs. With my civil engineering experience I would advise them how to maintain the plumbing system or repairs of gates, doors and windows. This went on for four years. Then gradually I could earn their faith and confidence. Although I intend to close my shop at 7 p.m., work goes on till 8 p.m.
Have you achieved your goals?
Today, my retailing list has gone into several pages. We sell all types of paints, construction materials, plywood, Birla putty, chain link mesh, aluminum window fabrication, name it and we have it.
What are the goals you hope to achieve?
To avoid wastage, I advise customers and people not to use the wrong product for any job. It tends to become a national wastage. After several reminders to the authorities, I took it on myself to remove waste on the side of the road as it looks disgusting.
What does the term ‘sussegado’ mean to you?
Sussegado is God’s gift to Goans. For me, it means work at ease and enjoy doing what you like doing best.