Master of Spices and Hearts – The Inspiring Story of MDH

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Mahashian Di Hatti is not a name that many may know. But, it is one that has been an evergreen companion of Indian households for decades. For this is the company that owns the world-famous MDH spices. But behind this beloved multi-billion rupee brand is not just an interesting name. There is also an incredibly inspirational story of beating the odds. The end product is a company that serves its customers in the most authentic way.

Hard Start

When India underwent a brutal partition in 1947, Dharampal Gulati was just one of the millions whose life had irrevocably shattered. Traveling from Sialkot in the newly made Pakistan to Delhi, the man had only 1500 rupees in his pocket. Even before this tragedy, Gulati had tried his hands at various occupations but found success and fulfillment in none. In India, he tried his hands as a horse-carriage driver. The money was however too meager to sustain his family, which was still languishing in poverty.

MDH Story
The inspiring story of MDH owner from Tanga driver to a CEO

Selling off the carriage, Gulati finally decided to go back to his family’s roots of grinding and selling spices. Risking everything, he traveled to Delhi and bought a small plot of land at Ajmal Khan Road, naming his shop ‘Mahashian Di Hatti’.

Steady Success

It seemed as if Gulati had been meant for his family’s inheritance all along. Rising from poverty, family’s shop became more and more popular among Delhiites. Gulati soon bought a second shop at the famous Chandini Chowk market. In 1959, the business became larger and automated with the establishment of a factory in Kirti Nagar in 1959.

The single most interesting factor about the rise of MDH has been the simplicity of its business model. There were no huge gambles, no daring feats, no carefully constructed and meticulously churned out advertisements. What has always set MDH apart has been its quiet commitment to customer satisfaction and quality. Spices are the backbone of Indian cuisine.

If a household finds a reasonably priced product that gives them the flavor they are looking for, one has a customer for life. And this is exactly what MDH had done over and over again, winning billions of hearts across the world. Once the word spread and the success of MDH came solely by maintaining this high standard, which was bolstered by the worth of mouth (and of course, eating!)

Indeed, Mahashay Gulati became his brand’s best advertiser, stepping into a TV commercial when the actor failed to turn up to set. Since then, his iconic red pagadi, white twirling mustache, and happy, grandfatherly demeanor have been a staple in masala boxes and TVs around the world. Even at the age of 90, despite having more than ample helping hands, Mahashay regularly visited his factories, conducting taste tests and interacting with workers like they were old friends.

Today, the company produces over 65 varieties of spices and has offices in London and Dubai. It also exports its products to nearly 100 countries worldwide.

Heart of Gold

While the rise of MDH is certainly an inspiration to any Indian entrepreneur, the humanitarian efforts that have always been a hallmark of the company. This is something that any business should hope to emulate. Having survived some of the darkest periods of the Indian struggle for Independence and the aftermath of the partition, Mahashay Gulati always gave back to the community.

As MDH became more and more successful, it opened up hospitals and schools in impoverished localities, always personally supervised by Mahashay Gulati. Alongside such organized efforts, the founder of MDH donated up to ninety percent of his salary to various charitable causes. He was also famous for his community presence, turning up to all festivals and celebrations irrespective of religion or occasion. It was for both his business achievements and humanitarian efforts that he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2019. 

Today, businesses have turned into profit-making machines that operate without consideration for society or the environment. They are driven by greed, nepotism, and a self-serving mentality. MDH and Mahashay Gulati go against the grain. They are a shining example of how a business can be incredibly successful without compromising on its morals.

A refugee who only had a 5th class education regularly beat CEOs with foreign degrees. Mahashay’s death at the age of 98 in December 2020 brought an outpouring of love and admiration. This showed that MDH and its story are a wonderful beacon of hope and inspiration to all those who want to make a successful business – and a better world.

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