Toronto: How many of you would dare to start a business while you are having a regular paid job? This will be a question that most people will answer ‘No’. Success in business is the result of hard work, perseverance and the ability to keep abreast of market trends. Saji Mangalathu from Scarborough, Canada is a man who has successfully taken up that challenge and implemented it in his own life.
In his opinion, as the owner of ‘Royal Kerala Foods’, there are no shortcuts to success. When Saji Mangalathu landed with his family in Canada about four decades ago, things were much different than they are today. Saji Mangalathu says that it is amazing to think about life in Canada in those days when there were not even mobile phones in use.
Saji was born in Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district. Saji, an undergraduate student in 1981, set his foot on Canadian soil with his family in 1983, the year in which India won the cricket world cup. At that age, as a youngster, Canada seemed like a wonderland to him. Saji Mangalathu still remembers that in the early days he struggled to adapt to the new country with his language and way of life. He had a little difficulty in matters of education. His pre-degree passed in India was not recognized in Canada so he had to join for plus two again. During his studies, he went for part time jobs and worked hard to earn money. During 84-86, Saji attended Centennial College in Ontario to take a full-time course in food nutrition. After completing the studies, he got a job as a food nutrition consultant and thus he worked in various hospitals.
It was during those days, he decided to start a business when life was going pretty much normal. In the past, his father was in the textile business in Muvattupuzha and it inspired him. That is how ‘Royal Kerala Foods‘ was started in 1996. His experience as a Food Nutrition Consultant was also an asset to this business. Although he came to Canada at a young age, Saji was very fond of his native place and its traditional food. How can such a person forget his native place when he starts a business? Saji’s business vision was to make the traditional foods of Kerala available in Canada to all Malayalees who miss their home badly. Saji wandered a lot to find out the food habits of the Malayalees in Canada, to find them in the Kerala market, to export them profitably and to make them available in Canada with quality. Eventually his efforts got paid off.
Saji says that in the past, Malayalees used to pack pickles, avalose podi and banana chips when they came from the country. According to him, it was only after studying these diets that he came up with the idea of making them available here. Royal Kerala Foods has captured the market with its focus on quality along with affordability. Saji believes that a business is successful when you think on the part of the customer, understands their needs and acts accordingly. Royal Kerala Foods has conquered the minds of the Canadian Malayalees with the unparalleled business acumen of Saji Mangalathu, a business strategist who has compiled and marketed all the favorite food items of a Keralite’s everyday life such as mixture, chukku coffee, pickles and kuzhalappam. Saji says his method is based on the basic principle of observation, experimentation and learning from mistakes.
Saji’s company, which started in Warden & Lawrence, was later relocated to Lawrence & Victoria Park. After staying there for 9 years, Royal Kerala Foods moved to its own building in Ellesmere & Bellamy in 2014. Saji Mangalathu, affectionately known as ‘Sajichettan’ by the Malayalees of Scarborough, is today an active participant in the activities of Malayalee associations and cultural communities. He is ready to help any Malayalee in any way he can in the midst of business related hustle and bustle. Maybe it’s the mountains of misery that he crossed to reach the present level persuading him not to forget the way he came.
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