Rohana Dissanayake, the Group Chairman & Managing Director of the David Pieris Group, plays a pivotal role in shaping the conglomerate’s corporate culture and values, which have been integral to its remarkable success. With humble beginnings just four decades ago, selling a few Bajaj three-wheelers, the Group has grown to become a household name in Sri Lanka, with one in three vehicles on the road being a Bajaj. This diverse impact has touched the lives of over 3.5 million Sri Lankans, offering not just mobility but also fostering industries and a unique ecosystem around Bajaj vehicles.
Rohana firmly believes that the Group’s achievements are a direct result of genuinely living their core values of respect, ethics, innovation, care, and commitment. These values, instilled by the founder David Pieris, have become an integral part of the organizational culture. As a leader, Rohana recognizes the significance of exemplifying these values, ensuring that his behaviour, decision-making, and that of other leaders consistently reflect the culture they strive to cultivate.
A cornerstone of the corporate culture at the David Pieris Group is transparent and open communication across all employee levels. This fosters a free flow of ideas, concerns, and feedback, enabling well-informed decisions that align with the core values. Employees witness the positive outcomes stemming from these values, encouraging them to wholeheartedly embrace and embody them in their actions and behaviour. Rohana acknowledges that no single person can achieve a transformation of this scale alone; it is the collective effort of dedicated employees that sustains and nurtures the thriving corporate culture. The culture not only benefits the company but also enriches the lives of every individual associated with the Group.
Rohana oversees a diverse portfolio that spans numerous sectors, from automotive to financial services, leisure, IT, logistics, solar, lighting, and more. While the Group is widely recognized for its prominent position in the automotive industry, particularly as the largest automotive company in Sri Lanka, it has expanded its scope significantly over the years, boasting nearly 20 active companies operating across diverse business areas.
The portfolio includes an array of offerings, such as automotive products and services, finance, portfolio management, insurance broking, logistics, ship and marine services, property development and real estate, information technology, and leisure. Among the recent ventures, Pearl Bay stands out, housing Sri Lanka’s only FIA-CIK homologated international standard karting track and a water park built to European health and safety standards. Additionally, the Group has made strides in the green energy sector, venturing into solar energy and Zenoi LED lighting, and even assembling Zenoi TVs with local value addition.
Despite the diversity of its operations, the David Pieris Group ensures effective management and coordination across these various sectors to maintain synergy and maximize business opportunities. Each company operates independently, with its own boards and management teams, yet remains an integral part of the Group. Collaborative efforts and cross-selling initiatives are encouraged, allowing companies to leverage shared business infrastructure and touchpoints within the Group. Sales dealers, for instance, play multiple roles, serving as agents for the insurance business, introducers for the finance company, and facilitators for land sales.
Rohana facilitates the exchange of ideas, best practices, and business opportunities among the leaders of each company within the David Pieris Group. This collaborative approach not only enhances the performance and success of individual companies but also strengthens the collective impact of the entire Group. He takes pride in the diversified ventures of the Group, fostering a cohesive network that thrives on cooperation, innovation, and shared success.
As Rohana places sustainability and social responsibility at the forefront of the conglomerate’s operations with a well-structured environmental, social, and governance program, the Group is committed to making a positive impact on both society and the environment.
In Sri Lanka, the David Pieris Group is a significant contributor to economic and social development, providing direct and indirect employment to over 3.5 million people. Focused on nurturing its workforce, the company emphasizes ongoing training and development, grooming employees for future leadership roles. Beyond work, the Group actively encourages its people to pursue their passions in sports and the arts, celebrating their achievements.
To uplift rural communities and empower the less fortunate, the David Pieris Group extends its support to small and medium enterprises by providing financial assistance and leasing machinery and equipment. The Group also dedicates efforts to support child welfare, the elderly, disabled individuals, and service personnel after the civil war. Through scholarship schemes and infrastructure development programs, the Group strives to improve education in rural schools.
A notable initiative, the ‘Empowering Women through Technical Training’ program, reflects the Group’s commitment to gender equality. By training women in repairing and servicing three-wheelers, the program opens up alternative employment opportunities that were once limited to men. Over 200 women have already benefited from this initiative, receiving technical training, certifications, and financial support to start their own three-wheeler repair workshops. Moreover, the David Pieris Group takes significant steps to minimize its environmental impact. Implementing strict environmental management practices, such as rainwater and wastewater recycling, polythene recycling, and proper solid waste disposal, the company works to reduce emissions, waste, and energy consumption.
Embracing green energy initiatives, the Group has ventured into solar energy as a new business and is actively converting three-wheelers to electric vehicles as a pilot project. These efforts demonstrate the Group’s dedication to preserving the environment and its resources for future generations, contributing to a greener and more sustainable future.
Understanding the significance of innovation and adaptation in today’s competitive market, Rohana has undertaken several initiatives to stay relevant and meet the evolving needs of customers. Amidst recent economic challenges, when the automotive industry faced a suspension of new vehicle imports, the Group showcased its technical expertise in Bajaj vehicles. They reconditioned and offered DPMC-certified two-wheelers and three-wheelers through their trading arm “Riyasakwala,” providing customers with a viable alternative.
Taking a pioneering step, the Group introduced the first motorcycle with local value addition under the Standard Operating Procedure for the Automobile Manufacturing/Assembling Industry and Automobile Component Manufacturing Industry in Sri Lanka. The Bajaj CT 100 and Bajaj Discover 125 were the successful outcomes of this initiative. These motorcycles not only fulfilled the long-awaited consumer demand for brand-new bikes but also encouraged local entrepreneurship. With 20% of locally manufactured components adhering to strict quality standards set by Bajaj Auto India, this move also fostered knowledge and expertise transfer, positively impacting the development of the local automotive and spare part industry.
Emphasizing environmental goodwill and recognizing the future potential of electric vehicles, the Group launched E-drive, a pilot electric three-wheeler (tuk-tuk) taxi service for public transportation. The vehicles were converted by David Pieris Motor Company without the involvement of Bajaj Auto India, demonstrating the Group’s commitment to sustainable mobility solutions. E-drive, with zero emissions, reduces dependency on fossil fuels and helps save foreign exchange by cutting down fuel expenses. These electric three-wheelers also provide passengers with reduced noise, smoother rides, and lower running and maintenance costs, making public transportation more affordable. To ensure the safety and professionalism of the E-drive taxi service, drivers undergo comprehensive training in driving electric vehicles, road rules, and road etiquette. The entire fleet is centrally monitored, enhancing overall operational efficiency and passenger safety.
In the pursuit of green energy solutions, the Group offers retail and commercial on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid solar solutions. Through their subsidiary, Electrozen, they provide low electricity-consuming Zenoi LED lighting solutions, alleviating the strain on the grid and reducing overall electricity demand.
As he envisions a future that embodies the essence of being a truly Sri Lankan company, Rohana is dedicated to serving the needs of the majority and those with limited access to products and services. The Group’s commitment to accessibility is evident through an extensive network of touchpoints spread across the island, ensuring that their services are easily reachable by all.
At the heart of their approach lies an unwavering commitment to quality. The Group never compromises on the excellence of its products and places equal importance on providing exceptional after-sales service. Understanding that customer satisfaction extends beyond the point of purchase, they diligently address their customers’ needs and concerns to build enduring relationships.
While remaining rooted in their core values, Rohana and the David Pieris Group actively seek new opportunities and business ventures. Leveraging their expertise and deep understanding of their customers, they make strategic investments that fuel growth and success. Embracing innovation and fostering an environment of progress and collaboration, the Group welcomes new ideas and actively supports local entrepreneurship. Expanding their horizons, the Group has recently ventured into international markets, establishing companies in the UAE and Singapore. Looking ahead, their aspirations stretch to markets in Asia and Africa, building on their remarkable successes and striving to make a positive impact on a global scale.
Through continuous reinforcement of their values, Rohana and the David Pieris Group remain steadfast in their commitment to maintaining their position as a reputable and successful conglomerate in Sri Lanka. With a visionary leader at the helm, the Group continues to touch the lives of millions, driving positive change and shaping the future of Sri Lanka.