Taught to create opportunities that will not only benefit himself but rather the country as a whole, Sathis Nawaratne, the Group Chairman and Managing Director of Sadaharitha Plantations Ltd., had always harbored the idea of becoming an entrepreneur since the time of his youth.
Rooting from his hometown in Horona, Sathis is a proud alumni of D. S. Senanayake College. Upon completing his higher studies with a BA Degree in The University of Peradeniya, he then took on the post of a director at State Plantation at an early age. Having also held Director Position at the Coconut Cultivation Board and the Coconut Development Authority, Sathis was able to attain a great deal of experience on commercial crops and large scale estate management at the time. And so, with a predetermined mindset of never wanting to work under someone in the long run, Sathis decided to change gears on his career expedition. Thus, bringing to life Sadaharitha Plantations Ltd.
When it came to giving a forethought on the overall business, Sathis chose the motto to be ‘Country before me’. “It runs in my blood”, he states proudly, “From my family to my school, we have always been driven with that very statement”. Following the motto with genuineness, Sathis doesn’t hesitate to think of his motherland first when it comes to importing or exporting products.
Nurturing a sense of creativity within himself, Sathis’s passion towards breaking new grounds with an out of the box thinking attitude is what drove him in the vicinity of commercial forestry. Making use of his experience in an innovative way has only continued to help him excel in the field till date. “Majority of Sri Lankans did not know about Commercial Forestry when it came into the industry in this country”, he explains. Further, Sathis goes on to state that the lack of awareness by many about such an industry made stepping into it quite challenging in the beginning period. Despite whatever obstacles lay, Sathis was ever willing to take the risk.
Built under the main pillars of creativity, human capital development, financial discipline and trust, Sadaharitha is an organization that continues to be one of the most innovative Forestry Management Company in Asia. Having built a family concept amongst his staff, Sathis emphasizes on the role that the people play within the company to be one of the core reasons behind their growing success. “Any company should have a good culture to move forward in the industry”, he voices. Not failing to mention the trust he had gained in spite of introducing an unknown product into society, Sathis says, “The journey we were able to come this far was because of the trust people had on us, and us keeping the trust.”
Sadaharitha’s two decade long journey by far has only produced results that have brought in pride and triumph. “Any company earns profit, but we are mainly proud to be an exporting company that not only contributes to the country’s economy but also values the country regardless of the revenue and profit we gain”, Sathis eagerly explains.
Although Sadaharitha commenced their business with Mahogany, they eventually began including varieties such as Sandalwood and Agarwood. Sathis talks about Agarwood being their primary focus as of now. With wood like Teak and Sandalwood being a long-term investment, the locals are currently drawn into short-term ones, making Agarwood a preferred choice amongst many. Making it a point to plan out the end product first – including creating markets overseas for harvest, especially the Gulf Region – the company was able to ensure sales in years to come. “By planning, we brought the future in front of us. That way, one day when we do get there, we know that we are already in a comfortable zone, which was preplanned.”
Additionally highlighting the market size of Agarwood, Sathis mentions it being calculated closer to the range of 10 Billion USD. Sri Lanka can expect an export income of over USD 1 billion in the future from agarwood industry. With the highest contribution for Sadaharitha due to their resource base and expertise.
Looking to build their future by setting their initial focus towards maximizing customer benefits, as promised or beyond what’s promised, Sadaharitha is also hoping to extend their retail outlets globally. “As a company, we want to give our support to the country as a Sri Lankan brand and our support to our economy by adding value to the country”, Sathis states. Being the first local company to make perfumes and export internationally, the company is also expecting to sell Sri Lankan made Agarwood in the near future as per their ongoing plans. “We hope to extend our perfume to further than Europe and the Middle East and develop our brand not just as a perfume brand, but a fashion brand”, he says. “Basically, our future plan is to build a top end Sri Lankan Luxury Brand.”
When asked about the challenges the company faced in the past few years, Sathis talks about using the most common cost control methods, working from home and the use of market diversification to stop the revenue from dropping low amidst such times. Having found different new markets and trends which helped Sadaharitha sustain regardless of such challenging times, they were able to maintain their sales patterns with the help of identifying certain successful segments.
Reaping rewards as he continues to find concepts that provide betterment to our motherland in total, Sathis parts with a very effective advice to all. He requests all to find the key towards success in determination and strong will. “You should always be with positive people, be in a positive environment and think positive.”