Mr Kantappa Sahukar, Chairman and Managing Director of Bengaluru-based Kaplatharu Breweries and Distilleries, was into the liquor business since the time he was in studying in 10th grade in school.
“It was a business started with my brothers. From managing a liquor shop we have grown to owning around 50 shops in Karnataka today,” Kantappa remembers. “I managed my studies and handled business in parallel.”
The brothers later started wholesale distribution before setting up a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility located on the outskirts of Bengaluru. “As a family business, we are no less than a multi-national corporation,” Kantappa says with visible pride.
As the company grew, Kalpatharu Distilleries was updated with a total capital investment of Rs 100 crore over the years. Its brands included Carnival dry gin, Carnival rum, Black Belt whiskey, Friends Club whiskey and Golden Touch brandy.
For Kantappa, every stepping stone has been a milestone. “Establishing an IML manufacturing unit and successfully running it was one milestone,” he says. Competing with multinationals has been another important achievement in his track record in the business.
In 2014, he brought in his daughter, Bhavana, as CEO. She is a trained IT engineer, holds an MBA, and completed M.Sc. in Brewing and Distilling from Scotland.
She helps Kantappa arrive at solutions for challenges, and looks after the day-to-day operations of the factory. Bhavana has already learnt the ropes in sourcing, production, dispatch, sales, brand development, marketing and finance.
Kantappa is all praise for Bengaluru-based Amrut Distilleries for its efforts to achieve mastery over single malt whiskies and bring plaudits to the Indian alcobev industry. However, he is a teetotaller.
When Bhavana joined the company 6 years ago, Kalpatharu had a turnover of about Rs. 50 crore. Today (2019-20), it has grown to about Rs 360 crore.
“The support of my family and friends is my biggest encouragement to join this male-dominated industry. In Scotland I gained great knowledge in making beer and alcohol,” Bhavana recalls of her training.
Since joining her father Bhavana has developed Golden Touch whiskey and launched new ones like Golden Touch vodka and Highbee whiskey. She has also redesigned the existing brands and improved the blends and packaging.
In a world of constant competition and rising talent, it takes more than just the right skills to truly excel. “Growing up in Bengaluru, the liquor hub of India, I have seen first-hand just how innovative and exciting the alcohol industry can be. I believe we are putting in our efforts to do the same,” she says.
The company has gone digital in all its activities: production and sales to payments and finances. She has also optimised raw materials procurement and keeps an eagle eye on profit and loss.
“The simplicity and the depth of knowledge my father has my biggest treasure. Every stone in the factory, each machine and processing system, every tree planted on our premises is carefully decided by my father,” she says.
For Bhavana, innovation means bringing in unique blends, developing new flavours, and attractive packaging to make consumers happy.
Her favourite tipples revolve around Kalpatharu’s own brands. “Nothing can beat them!” she signs off.