Established in 1986 as a distributor of steel tools, hardware and equipment, Janatha Steels has created a solid track record over the years to become one of the most reputed hardware merchants in the country, offering a comprehensive product range from stainless steel rods and hand tools to safety gear to marine equipment. From 2018, Janatha Steels diversified into various fields such as construction, stationery, agriculture, pharmaceutical equipment, and automobiles. Today, the company provides direct employment to over 700 individuals and indirect employment to thousands across the country.
One thing that continues unchanged for Janatha Steels is its set of core values of trust, integrity and quality, which have persisted during times of peace and war. This has helped the company and its employees grow from strength to strength and deliver on their promise of offering the highest-quality products, including importing the best in the world from countries like India, China, Pakistan, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Ukraine, Turkey, Dubai and Indonesia.
Leveraging this wealth of experience gained in over three decades, Janatha Steels took the bold shift to renew its brand story in line with its 35th anniversary. This initiative placed the company as the second largest online steel supplier within a short span of six months. This new brand identity represents the “shift of time”, “power of steel” and “emphasis on people”.
The past few years though, have been particularly challenging due to a number of uncontrollable conditions such as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fall of global economies, rising inflation, and import restrictions, also resulting in the steel and construction industries plummeting to new lows. However, Janatha Steels is committed to brave it out to ensure consistent supply to the local market.
Going forward, the company believes that the infusion of new blood into the Janatha Steels’ structure and procedures will amplify its efforts to become the largest supplier in the hardware industry in Sri Lanka.
Janatha Steels has had many iconic moments within the past 35 years. Commencing operations in 1986 with only a 3-member staff, they proceeded to import hardware items from Singapore in 1988, acquired their own warehouse in 1990, and by 1994 had started importing steel rods. By 1999 they had acquired more warehouses, which enabled their venture into the manufacturing of wire nails, nuts, bolts and fencing barbed wire in 2006. In 2007 they commenced the manufacture of wire nails at the Ekala factory and had started importing tools by 2010.
Providing productive direct employment to over 700 workers and indirect employment to thousands, Janatha Steels is now a force to be reckoned with and has remained reliable for 35 years. In 2013, Janatha Steels was named as one of the ‘Most Respected Companies’ in the prestigious LMD magazine further boosting its image.
Speaking to Vasudevan Subramaniam – Managing Partner, Janatha Steel, on the journey of over three decades, he stated, “During the early part of 1980s, when I was working with my father at his business, I had a dream of starting my own business to introduce my innovative thoughts. Having discussed my ideas with members of my family and after explaining my passion and ideas to them, they encouraged me to take that first step and embark on my journey towards setting up my own business. As the country’s economy was open in 1980s, both the private and the public sectors were actively involved in new construction projects such as the low-cost housing projects initiated by the then Prime Minister Hon R Premadasa under Gam Udawa in 1987, the accelerated Mahaweli scheme and related small and large scale irrigation projects and hydro power plants, which needed hardware items as well as some general housing projects. Under these circumstances, I thought it was the ideal time to enter the field to address the growing demand for steel. It is amazing to see the fruit of our efforts as we are now one of the pioneering hardware companies in the country.”
Bonds of steel were formed when Mr Shayanthaan, the elder son of Mr Vasudevan, formally entered the business as a partner in 2016. The subsequent acquisition of Gamage Trading (Pvt) Ltd in Matugama to manufacture round and square tubes, in 2018, is evidence of the continuous growth and prosperity of the company.
From 2018 till the present day, the group has diversified into related and non-related fields such as Taprobana Island (Pvt) Ltd., a company engaged in importing and trading of stationery items, and Hemka Pharma (Pvt) Ltd., importers and traders of pharmaceutical equipment. In addition, Janatha Steels established Janatha Green Solution (Pvt) Ltd., to supply and install roof top solar panels, Janatha Cement (Pvt) Ltd., to import, package and supply quality cement to construction industries and Janatha Automobiles (Pvt) Ltd., to acquire international agency representation for agricultural equipment and auto spare parts. Janatha Plantation (Pvt) Ltd. was also established to develop the existing poultry and agri-farm business located in Wattala as this would facilitate the expansion into the coconut and other cash crop plantations.
Janatha Steels has also initiated multiple CSR projects as they believe in the importance of ensuring the welfare of the people. The ground floor of Ganapathy Hindu Ladies College, Colombo was constructed by the Managing partner Mr S. Vasudevan. He also donated computers to Thiruvalluvar Tamil Vidyalayam in the district of Matale. Numerous donations in cash and kind are made periodically to several religious and educational institutions island-wide. The team at Janatha Steels believe in carrying out their CSR projects without the glitz and glamour of publicity, as the act of serving the people is their priority.
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Amidst working in his father’s business during the early part of the 1980’s, Vasudevan Subramanium possessed a dream of his own in starting up a business where he got to introduce and bring to life his ingenious thoughts. Proceeding to discuss his ideas with his immediate relatives, who encouraged him a great deal, Vasudevan began the trading of local steel products and opened Janatha Steels in the year 1986 as the Managing Partner with just three employees.
Due to the aperture of Sri Lanka’s economy at that period of time, Vasudevan recalls both the public and private sectors being actively involved in new construction projects such as the Low—cost housing projects that were initiated by the then Prime Minister, Hon. R. Premadasa, under Gam Udawa in 1987, the accelerated Mahaweli scheme, small and large-scale irrigation projects and hydropower plants, as well as general housing projects, all of which required supplies of hardware items. Thus, in the presence of such a circumstance, Vasudevan found it to be the perfect time to enter the field of hardware supply and cater to the rising demand. “Since then, there has been no turning back, and the business that I started has grown by leaps and bounds,” says Vasudevan. Having started off as a small-scale business, Janatha Steels now houses over seven hundred employees of all working levels.
“THERE ARE SEVERAL DIFFERENT FACTORS THAT I CONSIDER IMPORTANT ON THE PATH TO SUCCESS IN ANY VENTURE, WHETHER BUSINESS OR PERSONAL.HOWEVER, THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR, I BELIEVE, IS HONESTY IN WHATEVER I DO.”
Location plays a crucial role for every business when it comes to prospering. Janatha Steels is located in the commercial hub and heart of Colombo, in an area that is traditionally known for the trading of items, thus making it easily accessible to customers. Vasudevan states that “customers are the most important factor in the growth of a business”.
Upon talking about the milestones that Janatha Steels has crossed in the last three and a half decades or so, Vasudevan lists down the important events and phases his company has achieved in chronological order. Starting off as a partnership company that traded with locally procured items, Janatha received its first imported hardware supplies from Singapore in 1988. Having acquired the company’s first warehouse two years later, they then started importing steel rods in 1994, followed by the purchase of more warehouses of over 150,000 sq ft in 1999. The business then embarked on manufacturing wire nails at its Ekala Factory in 2007 and also began importing tools in 2010.
As he continues to mention the many achievements, Vasudevan proudly talks about his son, Shayanthaan, formally entering the business as a partner in the year 2016. Subsequent to his arrival into the business, a strategic investment was made in acquiring Gamage Trading (Pvt) Ltd in order to manufacture round and square tubes at Matugama in 2018. Coming down to the last two years, 2020 and 2021, Janatha Steels started a total diversification program by beginning many new ventures in multiple fields like Janatha Plantation (Pvt) Ltd, Janatha Cement (Pvt) Ltd, Janatha Automobiles (Pvt) Ltd, Janatha Global Exports (Pvt) Ltd, Janatha Tyre Industries (Pvt) Ltd, Janatha Green Solutions (Pvt) Ltd, Hemka Pharma (Pvt) Ltd,andTaprobana Island (Pvt) Ltd. Being one of the most credible and pioneering hardware merchants in Sri Lanka, Janatha Steels continues to grow the business immensely and looks forward to creating many more significant milestones in the years to come.
I ALWAYS RESPOND TO CIRCUMSTANCES WITH THE ABILITY TO CHANGE COURSE AND ACT, HE SAYS “BEING FLEXIBLE ALLOWS US TO RESPOND TO CHANGES WITHOUT BEING PARALYZED WITH FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY.”
Aiming for success requires a positive attitude and a mindset filled with components that help one reach greater heights and accomplish their targeted goals. For Vasudevan, the biggest such factor is honesty. “There are several different factors that I consider important on the path to success in any venture, whether business or personal. However, the most important factor, I believe, is honesty in whatever I do”, he shares. When it comes to aiming for success, Vasudevan stresses the importance of the concept of honesty as a must-have to reach the planned heights. “Honesty covers a broad spectrum of topics, from dealing with my customers, my employees, friends, family, and even myself. ” Through the years of experience Vasudevan gained, he found the ability to achieve his goals by being honest above all else. To this day, he considers it to be the most laudable factor behind his success story.
It is no secret that as time passes, priorities can tend to shift and improve for the better, and for Vasudevan, it was no different. While his objective of exploring a variety of ways to develop the business and his continuity in aiming for success remains, he tells us about the priorities present in the early stage of his career vs. now. Perceiving success differently in the beginning, he has witnessed the rise and the fall of many businesses over time and thus seeks to evaluate his own priorities by drawing on experience and knowledge.
“For example, I may say my priority now is creating happy, productive teams and healthy work culture. In the beginning, my priorities may have been more centered on growth and earning money”, Vasudevan says. “However, with the growth that I have experienced and enjoyed, “presently I concentrate on the welfare and good living standards of those who have worked with me to achieve the position that my organization is in right now,” he continues. When asked about the habits he follows in order to reach new heights, Vasudevan mentions his belief in passion as being the significant habit one needs in order to create the road to success. “I have a deep passion for what I am doing and I believe that I am successful because I chose to do what I love,” he says.
WE PROCURE ITEMS FROM LONG-STANDING AND REPUTED SUPPLIERS, HE SAYS. “ONCE A CONSUMER PURCHASES THINGS FROM OUR FIRM, THEY WILL ALWAYS RETURN BECAUSE THEY ARE CONFIDENT IN THE QUALITY OF THE PRODUCTS WE OFFER.”
In order to be successful, Vasudevan feels that one must be adaptable and accessible. He not only welcomes his clients, bankers, and stakeholders, but he also encourages his employees to come to him with their ideas and concerns so that he may address them and find answers. Vasudevan is committed to his work and refuses to give up in the face of hardship. Instead, he pushes to prevail and attain his goals.”l always respond to circumstances with the ability to change course and act, ” he says. “Being flexible allows us to respond to changes without being paralyzed with fear and uncertainty.” Without a doubt, today’s corporate environment has become increasingly competitive. Vasudevan explains the four primary factors that distinguish Janatha Steels from their competition in the midst of it all. The first step is to teach personnel to treat customers with respect and courtesy, even if they lose their cool for unforeseen reasons. “The positive attitude of the staff has made the customers continue their loyalty with the company.”
EMPLOYEES COME FIRST, FOLLOWED BY CUSTOMERS. AND IF YOU TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES RIGHT, YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL COME BACK,THAT WILL MAKE YOUR BUSINESS GROW. START WITH EMPLOYEES AND THE REST FOLLOWS FROM THAT
The second element that he talks about is ensuring the quality of their goods is of a high standard. “We procure items from long-standing and reputed suppliers,” he says. “Once a consumer purchases things from our firm, they will always return because they are confident in the quality of the products we offer”. In the third aspect, he describes the company’s obligation for replacing defective items that are sold, if any are sold. While client complaints are uncommon, Vasudevan guarantees that all issues are promptly addressed and resolved to the customer’s complete satisfaction. Last but not least, each item is delivered promptly and without delay to consumers. “The customer’s orders are immediately attended to and delivered, Our sales team is in constant contact with the customers and attends to their priorities,” he states. As a result, based on such elements, Janatha Steels has gained the upper hand in reaching where it is now, notwithstanding the presence of any competition. Janatha Steel prioritizes servicing people with a vision of being the leading supplier of hardware steel, supplies, tools, and equipment in the Sri Lankan hardware sector and a purpose of bringing quality products and services within reach of more people on the island. Vasudevan has remained loyal to himself and his business since the beginning of time, with unwavering passion and pure desire as he pursues his objectives and goals. Sharing with us a principle quote by Herb Kelleher that Vasudevan stands by, he says “Employees come first, followed by customers. And if you treat your employees right, your customers will come back, and that will make your business grow. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.
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Strength. Integrity. Trust.
Stepping Into The Future
Janatha Steels was established in 1986 as a distributor of steel tools, hardware and equipment and expanded over three decades through times of war and peace. Emerging into the modern era, we now aim to expand and diversify into projects of all scales and bring to you the best quality products within reach of wherever you live or work.
We help RECONSTRUCT your future
Whether you are renovating at home or constructing at site, we provide a selection of the best quality tools for your every need. Building your dream up with you is our purpose.
These services extend to all types of general hardware materials such as Tools, Pipes, Tubes, Sheets, Plates, Chequered plates, Scaffolding equipment and more which specialize in C & H Sections. We import hardware from the world’s leading manufacturers including Germany, China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea etc.
In the vast knowledge and experience in the hardware industry we possess.
In the strong value of commitment we offer.
Through differential leadership, latest technology and competitive pricing.