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Monday, Jun 07, 2004

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Men who matter

A city has its own power circle that is made up of men who matter in the field of finance and commerce. They wield considerable influence over the happenings and the development of that city. They could be men who have their own rags-to-riches story or people who have transformed their inherited small time business to a corporate house. From this issue, THE HINDU Metro Plus will run a series on the captains of the industry Vizag is proud of.


Vizagites regard him as the patriarch of the stevedoring community - an industry dominated by the migrant Bengalis from Kolkata in the early years of Visakhapatnam Port. Though he hails from a non-descript village by name Aaravalli in West Godavari district, he spent major part of his childhood and teens in Myanmar (formerly Burma), as his grandparents had migrated there early 20th century.

"We were contractors for Rangoon Port and Burma Railways. Our entry to Vizagapatam can be dated back to 1935 when the port was opened to traffic. My father, on whose name the firm stands today, V. Dhana Reddy, started a clearing house here and I moved along with him. He wanted me to become an engineer after I got my B.Sc. degree from the Government College in Kakinada, but I declined. The urge to do something on my own brought me back to this place after my father's death in 1959. I revived the business in 1960 amidst a lot of opposition from the serving firms, and here I am today,'' he says with a sense of pride.

Mr. Reddy got his first taste of success when he bagged the Shipping Corporation of India tender in 1964, and since then he never looked back. Parry and Company, Indian Sugar Export and Import Corporation and Indian Potash Limited were some of his premier clients. Within a decade, V. Dhana Reddy and Company became the biggest handling agent for bulk cargoes.

The firm that was revived by Mr. Reddy with a modest capital today boasts of a turnover of over Rs.50 crores with an employee strength of over 50. A couple of warehouses and a fleet of transport vehicles and equipment are part of the firm. He is also the president of Vizagapatam Chamber of Commerce and member of the Academic Senate of Andhra University. Today the entire shipping community looks up to this octogenarian for guidance.

Highlighting the usefulness of city he says, ''Visakhapatnam is strategically and logistically good for the growth of any kind of business, especially shipping related.'' The only problem he sees with this city is the lack of daily airlink to major cities, and the sanitation. "If these two things are improved then Visakhapatnam would be one among the top cities in South East Asia,'' he avers.

S.B.

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