They Did Things Differently

They Did Things Differently

Chotelal Verma and Jagan Singh Dawar didn’t follow the crowd. While millions of their contemporaries moved to fast-growing cities in search of a better life, they stayed close to Home, painstakingly building small earth-moving businesses that are now making life better in the places where they were born. Long-time renters of Backhoe Loaders made by a variety of manufacturers, both chose the Cat® 424b when the time came to buy. “the Cat has more digging power and better fuel economy,” Verma says.

This is the story of two men – Chotelal Verma and Jagan Singh Dawar – who didn’t follow the crowd. Their stories have happy endings – and the Cat 424B backhoe loader plays a pretty important role in both tales.

Verma is a native of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Dawar is from Borgaon Bujurg outside Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh.

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Verma grew up in Uttar Pradesh in what he characterizes as “a rather poor family” and Dawar’s family eked out a living in Madhya Pradesh raising chilies and cotton on a small farm.

Despite the straitened circumstances, Verma and Dawar stayed close to home after they grew up, turning casual construction jobs into full-time work as equipment operators. Over time, they saved enough money to open up small earth-moving businesses of their own. Today, those family businesses are not only making the men successful entrepreneurs, they’re helping to make life better in their respective communities, where they work on sorely needed infrastructure projects.

“It makes me happy to be able to contribute to the development of my town,” Verma says.

“We have improved a lot of the roads around here. They used to be pock-marked with potholes and the water would accumulate in them during the rains and become a breeding ground for disease. So the villagers are very happy with the improvements we’ve done. Workers are getting to their jobs faster. Students are getting to school on time. And we in turn are getting their blessings.”

Success came slowly, over decades not years, and both men worked as employees of others before they were able to go into business for themselves. A rupee means something to them both. For years, Verma and Dawar rented backhoe loaders and became familiar with the attributes of several brands. But when the time came to buy, both men chose the Cat brand 424B backhoe loader.

Once again, the choice involved avoiding the crowd. The Indian backhoe loader market is dominated by the local subsidiary of a U.K. manufacturer and that company’s three-initial name has become the generic word for “backhoe” in India. That makes a lot of potential buyers in the country – with its diminished level of literacy and technical awareness – less receptive to rival brands, even a rival brand like Cat with better features and a demonstrated lower overall cost of ownership.

Verma and Dawar were smarter than that.

“I wasn’t satisfied with the productivity or reliability of the other brands, which seemed to break down more,” Dawar says.

Verma bought his first Cat 424 backhoe loader in 2011, nearly 15 years after he first began working in the field and operating heavy equipment. Four years later, he has four of them, which he uses to build roads, lay pipeline and erect telecom towers. “The Cat is just more productive with more digging power and better fuel economy than other machines,” says Verma. He estimates the annual savings in diesel spend alone across his four-machine fleet is 75,000 rupees.

Dawar is currently working on an agricultural irrigation project connected with the Omkareshwar Dam Project on the Narmada River about 30 miles north of Khandwa.

Water from the massive gravity dam, which runs a 520 megawatts hydroelectric power station, helps irrigate about 132,000 hectares (327,000 acres) of farmland.

Agricultural forms Madhya Pradesh’s economic backbone, accounting for almost 25 percent of the state Gross Domestic Product and employing 70 percent of the population. In rural areas, farm income accounts for 75 percent of all earnings. Bringing water to the area is good work that gives Dawar and his family great satisfaction and pride. Two of his three sons have come to work for him and the money his company makes is helping to put his third son through university.

“We’re helping my own community with the work I do,” Dawar says. “And my journey has inspired a lot of other people”.

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