A man’s success, Haresh Bhatt stresses from his wheelchair at his Port Coquitlam office, is not defined by what he has.
“It is defined by how much he does for the community.”
This resolve that underlines the Bhatt philosophy has paved the road to success for Natu’oil Services Inc. a family run business with humble beginnings that now stands as a leader in the global natural oils industry.
Last week Natu’oil Services Inc. added another accolade to its mantle after being heralded as the Business of the Year by the Tri-cities business community.
More than anything else, the award marked a significant comeback for Bhatt, who two years ago was paralysed after a heart attack.
The 52-year-old credits his wife Hema, a former fashion model in Indonesia, for getting him back into shape.
“She even installed a special lift in the warehouse, so that I would not have an excuse not to come to office and could not climb the stairs to the second floor,” said Bhatt.
The couple and their two daughters Dharinee and Nikhita came to Canada in 2003 and began building the family business focussing on sustainability, generosity, community, multiculturalism and networking.
“At that time palm oil was a dirty word,” recalled Bhatt.
But the family’s dedication to sustainability and good practices quickly established them as a major force in the industry.
Bhatt, a University of Iowa computer science graduate once managed a 60,700-hectare Malaysian palm plantation, as well as being a broker, refiner, trader and packer in that industry.
His initial foray into the importing business involved palm-based Rioilsandsoaps for sale to dollar stores.
Expansion into palm-oil-based human food products and animal feed soon followed aided by the demand for safe alternatives to feeds that had helped spread so-called mad cow disease.
In 2014, the Bhatt’s various enterprises brought in 5,000 container-loads and had sales of $120 million.
He projects 6,000 containers this year, with sales to top $200 million in 2017.
“Our most popular product is palm oil, which is ten times more productive per hectare than other oil crops, such as soybean, sunflower or rapeseed. Palm oil is also naturally free of trans fat, non-GMO and cholesterol free.”
Natu’oil customers are primarily dairy farmers, feed mills, bakeries and other food manufacturers. Today it is largest importer of energy supplements to dairy farmers of North America and the largest importer of packaged palm oil to North America.
The immigrant success story is unrelenting when it comes to giving back to the community while pushing the boundaries in his industry.
“Our seamless customer service is anchored in optimized logistics, product origination and quality control,” said Bhatt.
“We continue to support efforts to transform the supply chain by promoting the environmental, social and economic benefits of sustainable agriculture.”
Natu’oil was the first company to introduce sustainable refined palm oil in North America. This was predicated on Bhatt’s vision of doing business the right way, even though it was more expensive.
The company’s global sustainability efforts have transformed un-sustainable plantations; improved waste management to return local rivers; enhanced wildlife protection, and promoted women’s rights.
The family also supports cataract surgery camps in India.
“Our business is predicated on responsible corporate citizenship,” added Bhatt.