The Changemaker: Md. Touhiduzzaman

The Changemaker: Md. Touhiduzzaman

Md. Touhiduzzaman
Managing Director
Pragoti Industries Limited

Pragoti Industries Limited is a Bangladeshi car assembling and car parts manufacturing company headquartered in Chittagong with a manufacturing plant in Barabkunda. Since the inception of its journey in 1966, PIL has assembled and marketed about 65,000 vehicles of different categories and obtained CKD kits from world-renowned manufacturers.

Mr. Md. Touhiduzzaman is the Managing Director of Pragoti Industries Limited (PIL). There are many reasons to say that he is an exemplary personality for all those individuals who endeavor advancement in their career in the corporate sector. Pragoti is one of the state-conducted establishments of Bangladesh that is not drowning in losses. It has been possible for Mr. Touhiduzzaman’s Excellency in leading, wide-ranged vision, and ability to deal with internal obstacles.

He started working as a civil engineer. He obtained practical experience in civil engineering along with domestic & international procurement rules by serving in responsible positions in various organizations at home and abroad. While working in those organizations, he had received higher training at home and abroad, such as World Bank procurement procedure, Public procurement reform and management of procurement process for goods, Project management, and implementation monitoring and evaluation, and so on.

In August 2017, Mr. Touhiduzzaman was appointed as the Managing Director of this reputed and important commercial organization under the BSEC controlled by the Ministry of Industries, which was not compatible with his professional degree. His experience, efficiency, honesty, dedication, and patriotism are able to bring consecutive success to the organization. Now Pragoti is the name of the most reliable and trustworthy brand in Bangladesh.

Government, Semi-government and Autonomous organizations are the main customers of PIL assembled vehicles. They are aiming to establish a Progressive Manufacturing Plant with an up-gradation of the current assembling plant. In the interest of implementing this project, a foreign company has been already appointed as a consultant for a feasibility study with a detailed drawing, design, cost estimation, layout plan, list of machinery for all shops like as machine shop, paint shop, press shop, body shop, repair, maintenance shop, etc.

People consider Mr. Touhiduzzaman as their professional icon and leader; they believe that he is The Changemaker. Let’s read the exclusive interview, don’t hesitate to open your rational mind.

Cogitation of Work

The InCAP: At first, we would like to thank you, Md. Touhiduzzaman, for your excellence in leading an organization like Pragoti Industries Ltd. People want to know from you regarding the historical journey of Pragoti that commenced in 1966 and which has been going on successfully to date.

Md. Touhiduzzaman: After the liberation of Bangladesh in 1972, during the regime of the Father of the Nation and the greatest Bengali leader of a thousand years Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, it was nationalized and named Pragoti Industries Ltd. and placed under the administrative control of Bangladesh Steel and Engineering Corporation (BSEC) under the Ministry of Industries, Govt. of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. As a result, PIL becomes only 100% state-owned Automobile assembling industry in Bangladesh. At that time, there was no other car assembly factory in the country except PIL.

The factory is designed for assembling various kinds of vehicles (such as Truck, Bus, Micro-Bus, Ambulance, Jeep, Car, Tractor, Commercial vehicles, etc.) from Complete Knock Down (CKD) kits. After independence, under the kind direction of Bangabandhu, PIL alone has played a pioneering role in the development of the road transport sector in war-torn Bangladesh by providing various types of assembled vehicles on an emergency basis. During 49 years of Nationalization, PIL has assembled and marketed about 65,000 vehicles of different categories as well as been able to obtain CKD kits from world-renowned manufacturers.

From FY 1982-83 to FY 2010-11, PIL has played a leading role in eliminating unemployment, socio-economic and economic development of the country by accepting 10-50% down payment and supplying vehicles to the general public on the condition of paying the remaining amount in easy installments. PIL exported 10 units ‘Mitsubishi Pajero’ Jeep to Bhutan in the year 1991. PIL becomes a main supplier of vehicles in the Government, Semi-government and Autonomous sectors in the current stage.

For more than a decade now, PIL has been providing SUV Jeeps, Single/double cabin pick-ups, Microbuses, Ambulances, etc., at affordable prices to meet government demand semi-government and autonomous organizations. In this, just as PIL is making a profit, a huge amount of revenue is being deposited in the government treasury, including the government’s financial savings and the country’s foreign exchange savings. 

At present, under the strong leadership of the daughter of Bangabandhu & our honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is moving forward towards an unmatched achievement. To meet the dream of the Prime Minister and the honorable Minister of Industries are still working relentlessly for the betterment of Public Industries in Bangladesh. It desires and efforts to enter into the progressive manufacturing phase through technical assistance with world-famous Automobile Manufacturers aiming to meet the rapidly increasing need of the Road Transport Sector of the Country.

Current Status of PIL:

PIL has been promoting Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (QX) Jeep, Foday Landford SUV Jeep and F-22 Double Cabin Pickup, Mahindra Scorpio SUV Jeep, and Mahindra Double Cabin Pickup by assembling from CKD kits since 2016. Besides this, different models of vehicles are supplying to the customers in CBU condition according to their demands by importing from Japan and India.

Now, PIL is a consecutive of profitable organization for the last few years. The last 5 (Five) Years performance is given below: 

Financial YearProduction capacityProduction TargetSales TargetProduction target rateNet profit(Lac Taka)Deposited to the national treasury(Lac Taka)
Actual Production(Unit)Actual Sales(Unit)Sales target  rate
2019-20201300950133810001332140.84%133.20%7602.0824974.00
2018-2019130090014739001448163.66%160.88%10133.1756244.00
2017-2018130090012299001246136.55%138.44%9549.5129396.00
2016-20171300900930900953103.33%105.85%8688.1017036.00
2015-2016130090089490090499.33%100.44%8350.4617253.00
Total =44323.32144903.00

What is the present working method of Pragoti Industries Limited?

Government, Semi-government and Autonomous organizations are the main customers of PIL assembled vehicles. The model of vehicle is selected first, considering the potential demand of the buyers. Then the consent of the parent manufacturing company is sought to assemble the selected model of vehicle to PIL factory.

A delegation from the main manufacturing company visited the PIL factory on site and verified the existing facilities, production line, potential production capacity, local market demand, necessary tools & equipment, skilled manpower, project implementation cost, etc. and found satisfactory results for assembling provides positive consent for the project to be set up.

After that, an MoU is signed between two parties for a feasibility study to ascertain whether it would be sustainable and profitable to set up an assembling project. Once the satisfactory outcome of the feasibility study and commercial viability is confirmed, the agreement for CKD component supply is signed, subject to the approval of the PIL Company Board. A team of technical experts from the parents’ company comes to the PIL factory and trains the workers and engineers at different levels. PIL allows commercial production and marketing to be carried out if they have successfully passed the quality audit by a team of expert engineers from the parents manufacturing company.

After getting permission, LC is opened for importing a certain number of vehicles in CKD condition. The assembling process begins after the CKD goods arrive at the factory premises. In addition, PIL imports or collects locally various models of CBU vehicles and sells in the above manner as per customer’s demand.

It would be our pleasure if you share some of your own experiences with this organization.

As per as is known, The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s dream and the nation’s expectation was to transform PIL into a car manufacturing factory, to create a huge number of jobs, to produce cars locally, and to meet domestic demand and export abroad, to achieve economic and socio-economic development in the country.

But no modernization or BMRE has been done in the long 54 years since the establishment of the PIL factory. The factory is being run in the traditional way by old machinery, which does not go with the industrial standards of the modern world. On the other hand, although the different models of vehicles are sold all over the country, no service center or workshop has been set up to provide after-sales service to the buyers. As a result, no well-known car manufacturer in the modern world is interested in assembling their cars to PIL factory with very limited production capacity and existing manual system.

It is to be noted that after the brutal assassination of the Father of the nation in 1975, PIL failed to achieve the desired goal due to lack of patriotism, short-sighted decisions, indifference in industrial development, inefficient management, etc., of the governments in power. As a result, instead of being transformed into a manufacturing plant, unfortunately, a promising company like PIL turned into a loss-making and sick industry.

However, after the government of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to power, PIL has again become a profitable organization under the patronage of the government. Soon after, I joined as the Managing Director. I realized the reality and took the plan with the sincere cooperation of the present government and the higher authorities to set up a world-class new automated car assembly plant with the facility of progressive manufacturing with a capacity of 50,000 vehicles in two shifts annually and service centers also in the divisional cities.

A foreign company has been appointed as a consultant for a feasibility study with a detailed drawing, design, layout plan, cost estimation, etc., to set up the new assembly plant. They will submit the report by March 31, 2021.

On the other hand, service centers have been set up in Khulna, Bogura & Cumilla. Plans to set up service centers in other divisional cities are under implementation. If the plan to set up a new assembly plant is implemented, a large number of people, including talented engineers, will be employed in the country, and PIL will be transformed into a manufacturing plant through progressive manufacturing. Thousands of parts manufacturing factories will be set up in the country as backward linkage companies of PIL.

Where maximum state-owned organizations in Bangladesh are facing losses continuously, how did you manage to overcome the obstacles seen in public sectors and led Pragoti to become a profitable one? What’s your magic!

In fact, no organization can be made profitable by any magic. Despite hundreds of adversities, PIL is being run profitably by being responsible to the country, making the right decisions at the right time, ensuring transparency and accountability, controlling unwanted costs, and reducing production costs through maximum use of labor. The present Government has given priority to the purchase of products from public-owned industries from 2010 A.D. We PIL utilize this opportunity at a maximum level with our best efforts in the Govt. sector, given procurement & marketing assistance to the purchaser.

In the recent COVID-19 pandemic that cankered the global economy, what steps have been taken by the management to ensure the reputation and profitability of the organization?

From March 26, 2020, the government declared a general holiday in the country. As per our previous experience, the demand for PIL’s vehicles increases in the last half of every financial year. So in the first half of the year, a sufficient number of vehicles were imported in CKD condition. Occasionally Production lines were maintained with adequate health safety measures in place during public holidays.

Moreover, production activities were continued in mid-May 2020 in compliance with the health regulations. As a result, it has been possible to supply the vehicles as per the buyer’s demand. It is to be noted that by the infinite mercy of Allah, all the employees of PIL are safe even in the whole COVID pandemic. 

What is the position of the labor union here? What will be your actions to meet their demand if any situation occurs?

There are two registered unions. Both unions are labor-friendly. One union was elected as CBA by the workers’ vote. They act as the collective bargaining agent. The authorities are always vigilant in fulfilling the legal demands of the workers in the light of the government rules and regulations. As a result, the relationship between workers and management is excellent.

What are the biggest considered threats and problems in the Automotive Industry of Bangladesh today?

The biggest considered threats and problems are as follows:

  1. Free import policy 
  2. Imports of reconditioned cars in large quantities in each year.

What are your specific plans as a Managing Director of the company to expand Pragoti’s circumference in the market in the foreboding future?

Specific plans that have taken to expand Pragoti’s circumference in the market are as follows:

  1. Marketing at a lower price than CBU cars by assembling world-class cars by setting up a state-of-the-art automation car assembling plant.
  1. To transform PIL into a progressive manufacturing plant in the next 5 to 10 years through joint venture or partnership basis parts localization.
  1. Providing after-sales service to the doorsteps of the customers by setting up service centers in the divisional and district towns of the country.
  1. To increase the company’s income by repairing cars on a commercial basis by setting up modern car repair and maintenance workshops on its own land in Dhaka.
  1. Marketing of low-cost Jeeps and sedans suitable for use by mid-level government officials.
  1. Meeting the demand of PIL, including business expansion by setting up battery manufacturing plants on its land in Chattogram on a partnership basis.

How does Pragoti Industries Ltd. comply with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s structure in digitalization?

The government’s digitization compliance is being followed by exchanging information and providing services through eGP, Facebook, e-mail, and website, conducting virtual meetings, using e-nothi in official work, and performing all possible tasks through the computer program. 

Pragoti’s factory in Chattogram is used for assembling heavy machinery and spare parts. What are the regulations subjugated that support Environmental or Green Business?

PIL used to follow the existing rules and regulations imposed by the government in order to ensure green business. And our factory premises inspected by the relevant authority regularly. 

We would appreciate it if you enlighten us about the Citizen Charter performance of Pragoti Industries Ltd.

PIL’s assembled and marketed vehicles are supplied following the specific service provides the method as per the demand and work order of the buyer. And all the after-sales services are provided to the buyer along with a certain number of free services.

People appreciate you as a highly optimistic and positive person. We also know that you have a massive plan regarding the automotive industry. We want to know the details about your dream.

Our action plan has been arranged in view the following vision, mission, and objectives:

Vision: Aiming to establish a Progressive Manufacturing Plant with an up-gradation of the current assembling plant.

Mission: A name of reliability in the arena of road transport and communication of our country. 

Objectives:

  • Increasing production capacity, ensuring the highest utilization of skill & experience of the engaged labor force.
  • Ensuring the international standard of manufacture/integrated vehicles.
  • To acquire maximum satisfaction of the customers with door-to-door after-sales service.
  • In addition to meeting the local needs of the vehicle, earning foreign currency through vehicle exports contributing to the country’s socio-economic & economic development.
  • Improving production, the efficiency of human resources & working environment by implementing intensive training and strong efforts.

The action plans adopted by PIL are:

  1. To become a Progressive Manufacturing Plant through establishing a new state-of-the-art automation car assembling plant. For this purpose, a foreign company has been appointed as a consultant for a feasibility study with a detailed drawing, design, cost estimation, layout plan, list of machinery for all shops like as machine shop, paint shop, press shop, body shop, repair, maintenance shop, etc.
  1. Implementation of Double Cabin Pick-up assembles Project for the first time in the country, which has already been successfully implemented.
  1. To provide after-sales service to the customers’ doorstep & expand the business, PIL has taken a plan to build a 14th storied Commercial Building along with a modern automatic Workshop/Service Center at 151-152, Tejgaon I/A by own funding, which is under implementation. PIL also has taken necessary action plan for setting up regional offices, showrooms along with sophisticated workshops/service centers by own funding of all the divisional cities including Dhaka, Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barishal, Sylhet, Rangpur, Mymenshing & Bogra. The establishment of Khulna, Bogura & Cumilla service centers has been completed and launched on a limited scale.
  1. To provide affordable cars suitable for use by mid-level government officials and to assemble and supply low-cost cars within the purchasing power of the lower middle and middle-class people of the country.
  1. PIL moves ahead with plans to build an office building, a battery manufacturing plant on a partnership basis, a Double Cabin Pick-up parts manufacturing plant, and a research and development cell on its own land in Chattogram.

We are near to end of this wonderful discussion. People consider you as their professional icon and leader and believe that you are ‘The Changemaker’. Please say something to them.

I think half of the work is done if you can make a strong decision. So it is advisable to think carefully before starting any work. There are always obstacles to good deeds. So we have to come under moral, honest, transparency, and accountability. The country’s automobile industry is a very promising sector. The present government is quite an investment and industry-friendly.

If those who have the investment potential invest in the automobile-related industry, then in the near future, they will be able to achieve business success, and through the employment of domestic talent engineers and workers, unemployment can be eliminated, and intellectual trafficking can be prevented. In this way, if one can involve oneself in the developmental activities of the government, then the development of oneself and the country will happen together.

April-May-2021-Issue-Cover Page-The-InCAP-The-Changemaker-Md.-Touhiduzzaman
Md. Touhiduzzaman is on the cover of The InCAP

Self-portrait

We want to start this section by talking about your childhood. How was your childhood?

I was born in 1967 in the village of Suktailin Gopalganj Sadar under the Gopalganj district, the historical birthplace of the Father of the Nation. My childhood and adolescence were spent there like other boys in the village. As a child, I involved myself in studying and playing a variety of rural sport. In a word, my childhood was very happy. I studied in village schools from primary to SSC examination. I obtained HSC from the Govt. Brajalal (BL) College of Khulna. Later I have been living permanently with my family in Khulna due to my Father’s job. I obtained my BSC Engineering degree from Khulna University of Engineering & Technology (KUET).

You have an exceptional professional peregrination. We’d love to know the story.

Originally, I started working as a civil engineer. I have gained practical experience in civil engineering along with domestic & international procurement rules by serving in responsible positions in various organizations at home and abroad. While working in various organizations, I have received higher training at home and abroad, such as World Bank procurement procedure, Public procurement reform and management of procurement process for goods, Project management and implementation monitoring and evaluation, etc.

Fortunately, in mid-August 2017, I was appointed as the Managing Director of a reputed and important commercial organization in the country like Pragoti Industries Ltd. under the BSEC controlled by the Ministry of Industries, which was not compatible with my professional degree. By the grace of Allah almighty, in the light of my experience, efficiency, honesty, dedication, and patriotism, I devote myself to trying to take PIL to the pinnacle of development. I believe that we are moving forward by overcoming various adversities by working with sincerity and transparency toward the organization. 

Which period do you consider the turning point of your career and life as well?

Taking a challenging responsibility like the Managing Director of Pragoti Industries Ltd. in 2017 was the turning point of life. 

What’s your plan for your motherland Bangladesh?

To transform PIL into a car manufacturing plant to achieve self-reliance in car production, huge employment of talented engineers and people of the country by developing backward linkage factory to car manufacturer like PIL, supply low-cost car to the general people of the country, Socio-economic and economic development and to all-out support to the present government’s efforts to make the country a developed country.

The InCAP: It’s a glistering conversation with you. Thank you!

Md. Touhiduzzaman: My pleasure. Thank you all.

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