As the torchbearer of Jai Karan Sharma’s legacy, the pivotal moment that led to the establishment and remarkable growth of Chetak Logistics can be traced back to his early life and upbringing. Born into a farming family in the small village of Jhinjhar, Haryana, Jai Karan Sharma was the first son, and his entrepreneurial spirit began to shine at a young age.
He keenly observed his father and uncle’s ventures of selling jaggery and managing the dealership of Atlas Cycle, displaying a knack for business even before venturing into transportation. Observations from his father’s diverse business endeavours, ranging from selling milk to running a successful Dhaba in Kolkata, fuelled Jai Karan’s passion for growth and opportunity.
Described as a happy and energetic child, he excelled academically, showcasing a remarkable memory and quick problem-solving skills. His people-centric nature, evident in his friendships and love for life, laid the foundation for his future leadership role. Inspired by his father’s resilience and keen business sense, Jai Karan was driven to build something substantial for his family and community.
The turning point came when he expressed his desire to explore the transportation business, a decision influenced by his father’s and uncle’s hard work. Moving to Kolkata, a manufacturing hub, Jai Karan saw potential in the challenging yet promising field of transportation. His ability to handle responsibilities and a natural inclination towards managing branches made him gravitate towards the logistics industry.
Integrated logistics solutions
In the 1980s, Jai Karan Sharma, the visionary entrepreneur, reshaped the logistics industry with groundbreaking innovations. His strategic acumen and commitment to adding value to customers led him to introduce transformative concepts that altered the landscape of logistics.
One of the pivotal strategies was the implementation of “two-point delivery” during his tenure with a transportation company. He proposed a system where a single truck could serve multiple destinations, significantly optimising efficiency. By decoupling billing and delivery, Sharma streamlined operations and cut costs, a concept ahead of its time. This innovative approach paved the way for a warehouse in Kundli, Sonipat District, where he efficiently managed rack handling, warehousing, and transportation across North India.
Sharma’s collaboration with Maruti, during the advent of the automotive giant in India, showcased his technical prowess. He played a key role in designing customised trailers to transport vehicles safely, preventing damage during transit. His contribution to logistics extended to designing trailers for JCB, where he introduced a unique V-shaped design, enhancing aerodynamics and protecting cargo hoods, a testament to his commitment to practical solutions.
The foresight of Sharma was further evident when JCB faced challenges with transporting machines. He ingeniously devised custom trucks with a hood design over the cabin, incorporating a V-shaped cutter for enhanced aerodynamics and protection. This not only improved the speed of transportation but also safeguarded the cargo.
Through these pioneering innovations, Jai Karan Sharma redefined the logistics industry in the 1980s, leaving an indelible mark on operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and technical advancements. His visionary strategies continue to resonate as a beacon of inspiration in the logistics landscape.
Under the guidance of Jai Karan Sharma, Chetak Logistics played a pivotal role in job creation, contributing to over 250,000 employment opportunities, both directly and indirectly. Emphasising continuous improvement and customer-focused solutions, the company cultivated a vast ecosystem with a nationwide presence.
The extensive fleet of trucks, each requiring two drivers, and widespread offices across India led to employment generation at various levels, encompassing drivers, ground-level staff, suppliers, mechanics, and even employees at the Dhaba’s frequented by Chetak’s drivers. The establishment of the Chetak Trust further highlighted the strong bond between the organisation and its drivers, ensuring the safety of trucks during emergencies.
A unique evaluation method demonstrated the substantial impact on employment. With Jai Karan Sharma overseeing a fleet of approximately 25,000 trucks over his lifetime, each estimated to create jobs for 10 to 11 individuals directly or indirectly, Chetak Logistics emerged as a key contributor to employment growth, shaping opportunities, and making a significant mark in the transportation sector.
Jai Karan Sharma, the visionary leader, mastered enduring relationships with prominent automobile companies like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai through unwavering commitment to service quality and adherence to commitments. During challenging times marked by strikes at Maruti and Hyundai, Sharma prioritised customer service principles over conventional strike approaches, opting for constructive discussions to address concerns.
A staunch advocate for service-centric solutions, Sharma continuously added value for customers, positioning himself as a reliable partner in the supply chain. Despite linguistic challenges and being one of the few North Indian companies in the field, his commitment to lifting the number of tractors and building confidence forged strong customer relationships. His dedication to service and relationship-building stood out, establishing a comfort level that fostered support from customers during tough times.
Sharma’s reputation for effective conflict resolution was evident in Maruti, where even the ED trusted his ability to address problems beyond strikes. During production fluctuations, particularly during festive seasons, Sharma strategically managed truck inventory, sending empty trucks when needed to maintain smooth relations without compromising quality or punctuality. Through his steadfast commitment to service and relationship-building, Jai Karan Sharma solidified enduring partnerships that transcended challenges and contributed to the success of Chetak Logistics.
Jai Karan Sharma’s emphasis on inclusive growth and support for budding entrepreneurs left an indelible mark on the driver community and aspiring entrepreneurs. Rooted in the belief that everyone should progress together, he encouraged his employees to venture into their own businesses, fostering growth in the transportation sector.
Having experienced village life and its challenges, Sharma recognised the importance of supporting the ecosystem and each other. His approach was not just a kind gesture but a strategic move, understanding that supporting others would contribute to his own growth. Financial support extended to family members for acquiring land exemplified his commitment to the well-being of those around him.
Ensuring timely payments to labour, mechanics, and drivers reflected Sharma’s understanding of their challenges. By paying on time, he provided motivation, security, and enhanced efficiency among the workforce. Beyond financial transactions, Sharma personally cared for the well-being of workers’ families by assisting with marriages and ensuring access to healthcare for those in need.
Remarkably, Sharma’s personal touch extended to remembering the names of all 250 drivers way back in the late 80’s, highlighting his genuine connection with the people he worked with. His contributions to social and economic development, coupled with his dedication to the family legacy, earned him immense respect and facilitated significant growth for both individuals and the community at large.
Chetak Logistics, following Jai Karan Sharma’s visionary path, embraced technological advancements early on. In 1996, Sharma introduced the first computer in the organisation, laying the foundation for subsequent technological innovations. By 1998, a dedicated software team was established, initiating software development within the Indian organisation.
Anticipating the changing landscape with the rise of companies like Ola, Uber, Flipkart, and Amazon in the early 2000s, Chetak Logistics, under Sharma’s guidance, adapted to the evolving industry. In 2013–14, the surge in logistics companies like Rapido prompted further adjustments.
Sachin JKS haritasH, the youngest in the organisation, led a transformative initiative, making Chetak Logistics paperless, stationery-free, faceless, and cashless by introducing Mavyn. Inspired by his father’s encouragement, Sachin introduced an innovative pricing model akin to that of airlines, simplifying the freight rate process. He independently executed and expanded this concept, providing services to FMCG companies and various verticals. Today, Chetak Logistics stands as a testament to its proactive adoption of technology to ensure swift, safe, and efficient transportation services.
Chetak Logistics stands out through its unwavering commitment to principal customers, a philosophy instilled by Jai Karan Sharma. Unlike others, Chetak remains loyal to its core clients, refusing offers from competitors during low seasons. Sharma believed in standing by customers in their tough times, fostering long-term relationships that benefited both parties in times of growth. The company’s distinctiveness also lies in its continuous value addition, offering innovative solutions and adapting to new concepts with an open-minded approach. As a logistics player, Chetak provides a diverse range of services, including road, air, and express, showcasing its adaptability and commitment to personalised customer service.
The establishment of the Chetak Foundation, in homage to Sharma’s philanthropic legacy, reflects the family’s commitment to continuing his passion for helping others. After Sharma’s passing in 2020, the foundation embarked on various initiatives, initially focusing on aiding those affected by the COVID pandemic. Distributing sanitation kits and providing rations to over 25,000 people, with a special emphasis on the welfare of drivers and their families, showcased the foundation’s immediate impact.
A significant aspect of the foundation’s work is its dedication to promoting girl child education in logistics, transportation, and e-commerce. Through collaborations with educational institutions like Delhi Scale and Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya, the foundation supports scholarships for aspiring female students in these domains. Additionally, with a keen eye on road safety, the foundation aims to conduct eye checkups for five million drivers over five years, ensuring their fitness to drive safely.
The foundation’s broader initiatives encompass areas such as health, education, the environment, and road safety. Notably, their eye checkup camps in rural areas have already examined the eyesight of over 52,000 senior citizens, providing vision assistance where needed. The Chetak Foundation stands as a testament to Sharma’s enduring legacy, emphasising the importance of giving back to society and supporting underprivileged communities.
Awards and recognitions
The late Jai Karan Sharma, a posthumous recipient of prestigious awards, notably the ‘Logistics Man of the Year’ by CargoNXT and the ‘Rashtriya Gaurav Samman,’ continues to leave an indelible mark. While accolades during his lifetime, such as the ‘Responsible Citizen of the Year Award,’ reflected his commitment, recent honours underscore his enduring legacy. His influential contributions elevated the logistics industry nationally, exemplifying dedication and hard work. The release of his inspirational Hindi book further ensures his impactful narrative resonates with future generations.
Navigating future frontiers
Chetak Logistics, propelled by the visionary foundations laid by its founder, looks towards the future with a commitment to unwavering customer service, technological advancements, and strategic expansion. Rooted in the principles of stakeholder satisfaction, the company envisages a substantial augmentation of its infrastructure, with plans to construct multiple warehouses and offices in the coming years.
Embracing a trajectory of transformation, the organisation is poised to make significant inroads into the realm of train transportation. In the next three months, an announcement is anticipated, signalling the company’s foray into owning trains. The approaching financial year heralds another milestone as Chetak Logistics diversifies into the express business, further broadening its service portfolio.
Keenly attuned to industry dynamics, the company identifies promising prospects in air freight stations, recognising the evolving trends and cultural shifts within the logistics landscape. The commitment to growth is not merely numerical but is deeply entrenched in the values and cultural ethos that define Chetak Logistics.
With a forward-looking stance, the company is poised to explore new horizons, introducing innovations and adaptations that align with emerging industry trends. Chetak Logistics, with its legacy firmly intact, stands ready to navigate the future frontiers of the logistics sector in India.
His vision encompassed the freedom to grow and provide value to customers. Fortunately, our organisation is well-positioned to sharpen its capabilities amidst forthcoming changes, embracing new trends and technology. Prepared to adapt and compete, we are ready to face the challenge posed by new multinational competitors and continue our growth trajectory.