By Vinod Shirodkar
AS a young teenager Gajanan Ganu Shirodkar (Baba) came to Panjim from his native place Shiroda — to make his dreams come true as a businessman. Back in his village he would happily tell his friends that one day he will go to town and start his own business, own his own factories, provide employment to many. Coming from the kind of rustic background my Baba came from, achieving his dreams must have been a real daunting challenge! But he worked hard, persevered, and eventually sweet success was his.
Gajanan Shirodkar had come to Panjim with his brothers. His first business venture was today’s iconic café — Café Real. It was a café which soon became very popular for its traditional Goan snacks and tea served at customer-friendly prices. Café Real’s fame spread at first with Goan residents and business people in the vicinity and then from far and near, tourists too soon began to make a beeline for Café Real’s menu for it was very temptingly different and freshly made by selected staff who too grew with my father’s generous vision of life.
Both Café Real and Agencia Real were established more or less in 1946. The name REAL was coined by Gajanan Shirodkar himself and it caught everyone’s fancy. A memorable word, it inspired confidence in everyone in those times of old. Today, the Real Group of Companies has come a long, long way, comprising various private limited companies engaged in manufacturing a variety of products.
If Café Real is for hospitality businesses, it soon offered opportunities to open into real estate, horticulture, milk and milk products, etc. Agencia Real dealt with the liquor business as well as a variety of goods and namely cameras, watches, cosmetics, clothing, leather products, etc. Real Drinks manufactures Real Soda, Real Manik – a brand developed and produced in memory of the founder’s mother Manik Ganu Shirodkar (Baa for us children) whom Gajanan loved and respected very much. Also came Real Cola, Lemon, Orange, Real Packaged Drinking Water, El Condor, Thirsty Traveller, Fire Energy Drink, Kane Mix Berry and more. The Real Bottling Factory, Real House Distillery, Real Food Exporters are in the distillery business producing brand REAL which is the registered trademark of all the companies.
Most of the Real companies are ISO certified providing utmost quality products and services to its customers. Real has also been the well-known distributor for United Breweries for the last 56 years. At later stages many more companies were added on by way of more feathers in founder Gajanan’s cap!
Gajanan Shirodkar’s management style was and is still considered akin to a university of business standards to follow by Real Group of Companies present directors, as well as staff and in fact, the entire management, not to forget the general public, many of whom still remember him. As a philanthropist to the core, he quietly practiced his charity and passed on the same legacy of being kind to those in need and in want to the present generation.
Many remember an amusing highlight of how creative Gajanan Shirodkar was! One story to tell which is real is to do with watches and how they were sold: The watches were put in a large glass aquarium filled with water along with the watches and shoals of live fish – this, to prove the authenticity of the company’s water resistant watches.
Over the years the Real Companies’ non-commercial activities have seen the sponsorship of innumerable college and school events, sports activities like the Goa Marathon Run and Medical College Marathon, IMA conferences, Naval Programs, Police Sports, modelling programs, Christmas and New Year dances, cultural events like Carnaval, Bonderam, Holi, New Year’s Eve galas, IFFI (International Film Festival of India) events and so much more that deserves to be promoted and celebrated.
Finally, the one motive of the Real Companies is to continue to build and hold on to the golden reputation set by the founder Gajanan Ganu Shirodkar. Most of our companies are ISO Certified and provide quality products and services to customers old and new. While cherishing our memories of our founder Gajanan Shirodkar, we can also never forget and put on record the important role played in the development of the Real companies, by DILIP G SHIRODKAR (Bhai).