Suman Saraf – Steel Tycoon of Hyderabad

A Shrewd Businessman with a Golden Heart

Company: Radha TMT

Key People: Suman Saraf

Suman Saraf is a visionary pioneer who has shaped the steel industry of Hyderabad with his strong business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. He is a second-generation entrepreneur who transformed Radha TMT into a national brand and one of the leading steel manufacturing companies by incorporating innovative ideas that stimulated growth and increased market share for Radha TMT. He dons multiple hats right from being the Managing Director of Radha Group to being an investor at Hyderabad Angels along with several other ventures in various industries.

The Radha Group was founded in the 1960s by Suman Saraf’s father, Radheshyam Saraf. Legacy has expanded by leaps and bounds over time, and the mantle continues to broaden under the leadership of Suman Saraf and his elder brother, Sunil Saraf. Radha TMT is the brand name of their thermo-mechanically-treated (TMT) steel bars that use revolutionary German Thermex technology to produce high-quality primary steel. Radha TMT products are used in a wide variety of construction projects, from roads and bridges to high-rise buildings and residential housing.

Suman Saraf finished his schooling at Hyderabad Public School and then went on to study Commerce and Arts at Badruka College. He spent a few hours every day at the workplace with his father while at the same time continuing his studies, not to boss around but to learn the craft. He began working from the shop floor and claims that you need to start from the bottom to become a master of any craft. But, he regrets it now as he feels that we should do one thing with total concentration. He started working immediately after graduating as he always wanted to get into the business of manufacturing steel and didn’t go for his MBA as suggested by his parents. He thinks it was a mistake and feels things could have been different and places a lot of emphasis on education. This experience shaped his views and never allowed his nephews and son to enter the business, even restricting them from physically entering the office, before they completed their education.

Despite his emphasis on formal education, he thinks that nothing can replace on-the-ground experience in India’s notoriously tricky steel business. Suman gives a lot of personal attention to details and makes most of the major decisions along with his brother. Though he is assisted by professional managers, a non-family executive cannot catch the market pulse as well as he can as steel is a very fluctuating commodity like the stock market.

He is extremely critical of the increasing unwillingness of the next generation of Indian families to start from the shop floor. He says, “they don’t want to grow the business, they want to inherit a business and are wielding the power of the money to have the position, but without having good knowledge of the industry. You cannot learn this at business school.” He feels that a lot of mentoring is required for the next generation to take their businesses to the next level and that just studying in business schools without experience, without industry knowledge, businesses cannot be expanded by the next generation. He feels that the main challenge for family businesses in India is an inflated ego which should be kept in check and that the only way to grow is to be united.

Suman Saraf along with his brother, Sunil Saraf is busy building Radha TMT into a national brand along with several other investments and diversified interests in Real-Estate and Construction in a massive way that topped INR 1000 Crores in annual revenue.

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