Values become culture - when you can live them as easily as you can write them


Recently, I was presenting my organization’s brand strategy to a gathering of professionals. My presentation was simple and straddled four main aspects – our history to explain how our brand evolved, our value system, our brand strategy for the future and our way forward.

As I was driving back after the presentation, the thought uppermost on my mind was this – how much of our brand identity today rests on the values that cascaded from the past? To what extent has the Vakils culture changed or remained the same?

In the sixties, Vakils as a brand was known for their greeting cards and excellent printing. But that was the product and service. What did we stand for? What were our values?

From the beginning we set out to be innovative in the printing and publishing business. We were early pioneers in the greeting card industry. We were the first to commercialize hand-made paper for greeting cards and stationery. And we were early adoptors of new printing technologies.

We swore by quality. Be it the paper, the font, the inks, the process – only the highest standards of quality was good enough. I recollect my dad making his rounds, picking books off the printing pipeline and subjecting them to grueling quality tests.

My Father Arun Mehta, President of All India Federation of Master Printers happily watching my Mom receiving the awards from the President of India, Giani Zail Singh, on behalf of Vakils.

The 175+ national awards for excellence in printing demonstrated our unflinching commitment to give only the very best in making ‘lasting impressions’.

Ethics was paramount. And believe me, ethics wasn’t a ’30,000 feet-up-in-the-air’ motherhood statement. Every one of our employees knew what they meant when they said we were ethical. It was the simple but profound quality of total honesty. In our entire history till date, we have always fulfilled our obligations to our stakeholders – customers, lenders, employees, government and suppliers.

And yes, people satisfaction was the core of our business - be they employees, customers, or suppliers. Corporate social responsibility was part of our DNA long before the jargon was coined. We led by example, both in our internal practices and external contributions.

But wait, I asked myself in the midst of my reminiscence. Why am I narrating this to myself in the past tense? That’s exactly who we are today too. These are the core values that each member of the Vakils family lives by. These are what defines us as individuals and how we work as a team.

Following the value system set by our founding fathers. My grandfather, Kantilal Mehta (second from left) and his brothers G.U.Mehta and Kishorelal Mehta, (second and first from right)

Over the last 70 years we have worked hard to keep ourselves relevant in business. We have transformed our business lines and models, we have introduced newer domains, and addressed strong competition and disruptive markets. Yet, amidst both good times and tough ones, we have always held our heads high with these strong values. I am extremely grateful to all the people in our history of seven decades and more who made it possible for us to imbibe them so naturally and effortlessly. Just as easily as we breathe.

I looked at the slide of my presentation that displayed our The Vakils Values of today.

We have a unique history and story, I told myself. And Team Vakils of today will pass it on, I am confident – just as effectively as our predecessors had to us.

– Bimal Mehta
  (Managing Director)