My father had the zeal like none other: MCC Container Lines’ Tej Contractor
June 21, 2020: Your father is someone who will always be there; he will be your silent protector and your guardian and is inescapably a part of you even after he's gone.
June 21, 2020: Your father is someone who will always be there; he will be your silent protector and your guardian and is inescapably a part of you even after he's gone. Today, on the occasion of Father’s Day, Tej Contractor, director of MCC Container Lines – a company set up by late father Mayur Contractor, in conversation with Indian Transport & Logistics News (ITLN), acknowledges his father’s contributions and reflects upon his teachings.
How did your father bring the company together and made it what it is today? What drove him, and what qualities you think helped him get here?
I call myself a second and fourth generation logistician - the statement may be puzzling but it’s true. I am a fourth-generation logistician, and as all businesses have a story to share, my great grandfather started out in the 1920s as a customs clearing agent. In the 1980s, my father had a chance to restart his business as a first-generation entrepreneur when the family business split; hence, I am now a second-generation logistician.
Since his days of youth, my father had the zeal like none other, as I have been told by many. His constant quest to learn and challenge himself is what made him and our company unique, and drove the organisation to what it is today. He went on not only to complete his formal education but to do a Masters in Law while being a part of the family business. His constant quest to learn did not end there; he also ensured all the people around him learnt as well. With his constant need to challenge himself, he always upped the ante - it was just never enough. I think what drove him was the passion to make a difference and leave an impact… the relationships that he made and the people he interacted along his journey have a big impact on my life even today. Does a son or daughter get to call their dad’s friends his or her’s? I am fortunate today to have most of my father’s friends as my mentors.
What are some of the qualities, picked from your dad, that really helped you in making better decisions or handling tough situations?
My father was a ‘Master Trainer’ in the field of logistics and had an impact on a number of young minds. One thing that my father taught me, which has stuck with me all through my life is, “A person can take away all material belongings but never your mind.” He always encouraged me to learn.
One of the most important qualities that he taught me is equality amongst team members. I learnt the business not as his son, but as a trainee; I used to travel and work on the field like all my team members - this was the most important “unsaid” lesson that he taught me, and that is, how to earn respect from your colleagues.
Being part of a legacy business, it taught me how to work with my colleagues who have been with the organisation for the last 2-3 decades.
Humility and respect are a few lessons that are not something that you can just learn but are qualities that I was fortunate to pick up from my father, which helped me, and continues to do so in the process of decision making.
Tell us about an occasion when you and your father worked together and delivered on a project? An occasion that has stayed with you.
My career with my father was unfortunately very short. I do, however, have a project which will stick with me for the rest of my life. When I entered the business, we used to mostly do import brokerage and then started opening additional services such as freight forwarding etc. Three years into my career, we had the opportunity to execute a project of 180 tonnes of goods from India to Europe; 180 tonnes is normally nothing, however, to do 180 tonnes via air freight with a delivery time frame of less than six days was something that was very new to us. In a span of 24 hours, we designed a framework together on how we could execute the transaction. It was all chalked out down to the last pin. In reality, most of the ideas on execution that I had were, in fact, successful purely because my father used his experience, wisdom, and most importantly, relationships within India and abroad, which helped us execute the transaction with two days to spare. It was the most exciting days that I spent with my father as a colleague.
Since you are a father yourself and successfully leading MCC Container Lines, what do you have to say to the younger generation?
I am fortunate to be a father to two lovely daughters and realise the impact that a father has on his children, but in my career, I have learnt quite a few things which will take you through life:
1) Never stop learning - When I graduated, I was ecstatic that I never have to study again. Little did I realise that those books were a teaser to the ones we use or refer to, today. Even today, I have the pleasure to learn something new from my kids, nephews and nieces; learning is all around us - you just need to keep an open mind.
2) Integrity is a quality you never compromise on - I learnt very early on in my career that we are dealing with law and one can use interpretation to their advantage. Always be honest to not only your customers but your team members, vendors, colleagues and all the people you interact with; it will go a long way… as a bonus, it will earn you respect and trust.
3) We talk about technological advancements but there is no technology which can match the power of the mind. We undermine ourselves in our ability to learn; we turn off things we don't want to hear however the real fact is that "when there's a will, there is a way."
4) Never underestimate your ability your qualities, and most importantly, your mind is much more valuable than a basket full of money.