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Marketing Is the Key to Success: Pervaiz Lodhie

Business Monitor - July 2010

CEO, LEDtronics, Inc.
Technology Entrepreneur
Chairman, Pakistan-American Business Executives

Born in Delhi, India, Pervaiz Lodhie still remembers the hardships that his family went through to migrate to Karachi Pakistan after 14th August 1947. Settling into a new city and starting a living from ground up was not easy for his family in 1947. But the Lodhie family had a background in engineering and his father was an automotive engineer who joined the Kandawalas and managed their Eastern Automobiles Division in Karachi. Coming from a family that had an engineering background, Pervaiz's parents wanted him to be the 3rd generation engineer and started to look for a prominent school for their son. After partition there was a huge shortage of good schools in Karachi and Mohammed Ali Jinnah requested the school management to open its doors for non Parsi students to fill this void, the request was granted and thousands of children from all faiths came to the B.V.S. for quality education.

During the early 1950's B.V.S. Parsi High School was the only school in Karachi that had a Technical Training program. The technical education program was based on theory and practical use of the latest equipment donated by the US Ford Foundation. Soon young Pervaiz was under the wings of great teachers like Irani Master, Sir Aziz, Sir Hussain, Mr. Divecha, Mrs. Mistri, Mr. Minwalla and the great Principal at that time - Behli Rustomjee. Pervaiz graduated from the B.V.S. with distinction and was the third highest ranked student from all over Karachi. He went to D.J. Science College and then joined what is now called Axminister Carpets. Young Pervaiz put his technical training in use and was responsible for assembly and operations of the Carpet Woolen Yarn Division.

In 1967 like many young Pakistanis Pervaiz left his homeland for further education, first to Pasadena City College and then to Cal State University at Los Angeles. He completed his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and worked in partnership with his brother designing electronic indicators. He established LEDtronics in 1983 as a small two-person manufacturing organization. The business has grown with sales approaching $20 million with manufacturing facilities in Torrance California and Karachi Pakistan. But this is when most individuals would slow down their quest for hard work - having a very successful business and a beautiful family with a loving wife and three children. But love for his country and for the betterment of humanity - has driven Pervaiz to do lot more.

His real story now begins:

Pervaiz Lodhie is President and CEO of LEDtronics, Inc. He established LEDtronics in 1983 in Torrance, California. Pervaiz was one of the twenty-four Founding Directors and Trustees of President Musharraf's Pakistan Human Development Fund. Pervaiz with his own initiative has also started the Humanitarian Poverty Alleviation programs in the poorest Pakistani villages, providing them sustainable solar powered LED light bulbs and solar powered drinking water pumps.

He has designed what he calls his third world kit for application in underdeveloped areas. His kit holds three LED lights for households without electricity. The solar panel generates enough power during the day to light a home for six to eight hours in the evening. The solar-powered lighting kits are being placed in two beta sites in Pakistan. The UN is looking at this program and this will have far reaching positive effects all over the world, especially in developing countries.

Pervaiz transferred his US based company's labor intensive assembly work by starting a 'contract manufacturing' company in the Export Processing Zone Karachi, 9 years ago. It was a success beyond expectations. This partnership with Pakistan not only helped save his company in USA but also enabled him to be profitable and globally competitive. He has now employed 200 workers, out of which 60% are women.

By creating 200 jobs, basic minimal needs of 2000 immediate family members are met. In addition, these 2000 people create a further economic ripple effect in their area and impact the lives of 20,000 people. This is how very little investment gives the highest return.

Back home, Pervaiz has affected billions of dollars of economic health of America. For the last 19 years his company has supplied Solid-State LED light bulbs to the US industry to reduce electric energy usage by average 2-3 megawatts per year. This energy reduction has reduced pollution and has helped reduce hazardous waste.


BM: What inspired you to come to the U.S.A.?

Pervaiz Lodhie: I came to the U.S.A. in 1967 to continue with my education in engineering. I finished my AA form (Associates Degree) at Pasadena City College and Bachelors degree at Cal. State Los Angeles (BSME).

BM: How did you get into electronics? Was that a coincidence, passion, or a pre-planned business?

Pervaiz Lodhie: I started 'Ledtronics' in 1983. It was a joint effort with my wife. Before, I had worked for several major companies and developed electronic products. I was always in the design and innovation department in the LED line. After learning th technology, I went back to Pakistan for 4 years, then came back to the U.S.A. and started full-fledged with LED technology. It actually all started from a garage in Torrance, California, like any other American dream company, and then finally started full fledged in 1984.

BM: What made you successful in business? What was the turning point?

Pervaiz Lodhie:Success was brought to my business through simple American business laws and strategies that I followed. It also was beneficial that I was certain about what I wanted and on-track with a solid start. First, we planned to invest all profits back into the business for the first 2 to 3 years. Secondly, our goal was to satisfy the customers more than their expectations. Thirdly, we concentrated on the best quality products, and provided professionalism and the best customer support. These are like the "1-2-3s" of any business entity. If you keep it consistent and deliver what you promise, success is what you eventually will see in your business. So, the road map to my success was my engineering background, my problem solving capabilities, my everyday product innovations and designs, and customer satisfaction.

BM: Do you think the keys to success are hard work, marketing, planning or choosing the right product at the right time?

Pervaiz Lodhie: I believe marketing is the key to success. Even if you have the best product, but you can't deliver to your target market, you can't succeed. If the end-users don't know your products, they don't buy them. Use all the media available with the right marketing techniques to promote your product, and believe in your product.

BM: What is your target market? Are you limited to USA or is 'Ledtronics' worldwide?

Pervaiz Lodhie: 'Ledtronics' products are broad-ranged application products with a wide customers base that satisfies mostly industrial customers. Normally, we deal with large industrial companies. If you talk about competition, in 1983 there were only 3 companies competing with each other and now nearly 3000 entrepreneurs are trying to capture that same market. Plus all the designs are being copied all over the world. But, competition is what gives quality products to the consumer. It is healthy and is found everywhere. 'Ledtronics' LED bulbs are widely used not only is USA, but also in Asian and European countries.

BM: Name some previous products you had?

Pervaiz Lodhie: 'Ledtronics' have been providing long lasting bulbs for military equipment that hardly ever fail. For some equipment, the bulbs are very critical in nature, so that if the bulbs failed, it could cost more to replace them than the cost of the equipment itself. We have been a major supplier to the military industry ever since we got into this market. To this day, around 500 'Ledtronic' products have military part numbers that prove our standing within the military equipment industry. Our regular accounts include, but are not limited to, Eton Corporation, Square D Products, General Electric, Schneider Electronic Company etc. You will also find our LED bulbs in the elevator industry, where bulbs and buttons used to fail easily because of vibration; but 'Ledtronics' provided the solution by supplying millions of bulbs monthly.

BM: How do you think light bulbs will change the way the world looks today?

Pervaiz Lodhie: LED technology has already been recognized, and is moving forwards to lead the technology. The time has come that we need to curtail world pollution and since the fuel price has gone up and it has adverse effects on human life and the environment, the world has turned to LED lights. To reduce the light pollution in big cities, which is a hazard to the eyes, people look up to LED technology to produce more light with minimum cost, while reducing eyestrain on human beings. Plus, when it comes to fixing or replacing the light bulbs at critical places, which costs 1000s of dollars, LED technology comes in handy. Our LED bulbs are widely used in hospitals, corridors, hotels, and ambulances. Since these products work on very low voltage, it also minimizes the hazard for fire.

I have been working for the last five years to produce light for villages, especially in Pakistan where most parts are in dark when the sun goes down. I am making small solar panels that can produce enough energy to keep the night alive with light for a longer time with LED technology, since it takes less amount of energy to light the bulb. With the help of the NRSP (National Rural Support Program) I have enlightened 30 homes last year in the small village of Merkha, Chakwaal, in Pakistan. All the solar power technology used in the system has been donated by 'Ledtronics' and will continue in the future. The next program I have been working on is in Karachi, near the Hub River, called 'Abdullah Goth.' Some of our products have been donated and some have been sold at cost to a world wide NGO. I have plans to introduce this technology to all the provinces of Pakistan in the near future.

BM: Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

Pervaiz Lodhie: At the moment, it's a medium sized company in the USA, and runs purely in an American style, with a constant growth for the last twenty-four years. We have one facility that carries 150 employees at our Torrance location and we also, since 1998, have had a branch in Karachi that handles the labor-intensive work, with 200 employees. I feel it will be at 20-25 % growth rate per year. Our growth rate can be evaluated by the fact that nearly 80% of US companies use our high tech innovative products, such as General Electric, IBM, General Dynamics, Northrop, Lockheed, CISCO Systems, and numerous customers from the Medical industry.

BM: Is government playing any significant role for the promotion of business, exclusively in the same sector, you are focusing?

Pervaiz Lodhie: Well, there is a bit controversy. Thought Musharaf's regime has been par excellent for the point of the business but current elected people Government is highly appreciated at world level. Where I see that there are some small problems which needs attention apart from being fought against the war of the terrorism.

BM: How do you see the Pakistani community in Los Angeles?

Pervaiz Lodhie: The Pakistani community has been living here for a long time and they retained their culture, family values and traditions. I have no doubt that you will find the best Pakistani community in Los Angeles, who are working hard to excel in society. This community still has to prove that we are optimistic and peace loving. We have to make friends with Lawmakers and State and Federal level personalities, and we have to educate them about us, our culture and how we feel about America. I think we can overcome these problems, and we will.

BM: Tell us about PALC and your role in that organization?

Pervaiz Lodhie: Our 40 years old community has learned a lot from the time and tide after 9/11. During those years, we have done a lot and created the best doctors, engineers, scientists, but we never looked into whether the lawmakers in Washington DC are in our friend circle or not. National level connection and friendship have never been part of our community agenda before 9/11. The Pakistani American Leadership Center was formed in 2004 through the vision of leaders in the Pakistani American community. 'PALC' was created to fill a much-needed voice - an organization that would devote its resources solely to giving the Pakistani-American community a voice and a presence on Capital Hill. I, as one of the founding directors, represent California, to voice our community and itsneed through this channel.

BM: What is your message to the community through our Magazine Business Monitor?

Pervaiz Lodhie: My message to the community is to unite together, especially after the 9/11 incidents, and create a national agenda that shows interest for the community. We need to capture time before it captures us. Many thanks to Business Monitor for being my voice for the community and running such an excellent magazine.

Shaantech

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