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DRIVING FORCE

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Brothers Lovedeep & Arshdeep Singh Khakh have businesses that is integral to family values and Sikhism.

Lovedeep Singh Khakh is proud of his roots which goes back to the northern Indian state of Punjab. His surname Khakh is derived from his ‘small town’ Khakh near Amritsar. Of course, it is not something peculiar to him alone. After all, most Indian names are based on a variety of systems and naming conventions. But for Lovedeep, it is an identity that goes beyond family history and extends to the branding of the businesses he has set up with his brother Arshdeep Singh Khakh in Australia. So, add loyalty, stability, and bond to the attributes he ascribes to his many works.

Lovedeep says he never harboured any dreams to go overseas. In fact, he was a regular guy, born to a farming family and studying physiotherapy in Khalsa College, Amritsar, when his uncle who was settled in Australia suggested he moved here too. “I followed his advice, came here and, later, asked my brother to join me. It was a good decision,” he reflects.

So, in 2006 Lovedeep left what he was studying in Punjab and came to Australia to pursue something different. Initially, he enrolled himself in a course in horticulture believing he could put his education to good use but soon realised he was not cut out for it.

He also adds, “A big issue for Indian students is the lack of guidance from migration agents who are mostly interested in the commissions they make out of enrolments and not course suitability. The same thing happened to me, the agents advised me to go for horticulture.”

After a few months, Lovedeep changed his course and opted for automotive engineering. He also acquired a diploma in Business alongside. Armed with both degrees, he slowly got involved with businesses and was learning every day. There were bigger dreams in his mind.

Realising the strength of family businesses, Lovedeep asked his brother Arshdeep to join him here in 2008. “He guided me so I did the same automotive course and we opened a car workshop here,” says Arshdeep. It would mark the start of the Khakh brothers’ foray into their successful businesses. As Lovedeep says, “After my brother came to Australia, it gave me more energy to realise my ambitions.”

The brothers first forayed into the transport business after Lovedeep acquired all his experiences working with DHL company. “I was given the opportunity to manage the operations of vans and trucks, and they really liked my work.”

After a few years of working there, Lovedeep thought he could probably do better if he gave more time to his brains than his physical hands. He left DHL but continued his association with the firm as he then got his own fleet of trucks and vans employed at DHL. “We put other drivers to drive the trucks we were driving and started a partnership with someone else, which worked out well.”

With their enterprising bent, the brothers always wanted to do things independently without conditions. “That’s when we started our own transport business Taj Khakh Pvt Ltd without partnership,” says Lovedeep.

Today, the main family business Khakh Rentals has grown substantially within the niche Indian market here in Melbourne. What Khakh Rentals does is providing a car replacement for accident cars. But what makes it unique is that it provides replacement luxury cars on zero cost to customers.

The idea for Khakh Rentals was born out of other related existing businesses – an accidental repair centre for car and their transport company Taj Khakh Pvt Ltd. “We were using the high-end cars from other companies to give our customers. We thought why not start our own company when we are fixing someone’s car and give customers something better, say, luxury cars,” explains Arshdeep, adding, “The people who have used our service are very happy and are getting other people because it is something new. Besides, not many people in our community are doing it. You can call us on 1300911600 if you have any questions, sometimes people don’t know they are eligible for a free car or about repairs too.”

Among the fleet of rental cars, Khakh Rentals offers are Range Rovers, Jaguars, Mercedes, Audis, BMWs, Bentleys and more. The brothers claim they rely very little on advertisement but events give them leverage. That is where their other company Khakh Production comes into play. Khakh Production promotes sports and cultural events and even hosted the World Kabaddi 2019 in May. Interestingly, it was a ticketed game with 8000 people in attendance. A lucky member of the audience even won a Ford Mustang car.

“Some people said we couldn’t pull it off without sponsorships or financial support. We proved them wrong and did everything on our own. People loved it and it feels good to know that we achieved what we always wanted to do – getting youngsters involved in sports, promoting culture and providing entertainment to the community,” says Lovedeep.

“Khakh Productions gives us a chance to tell people about our businesses and what we do. For instance, most people in the community don’t know that they have the right to have a replacement car when their car is getting repaired, especially when they are not at fault. So, we are trying to tell people to use our service as it is free for them, we don’t charge from them but from insurance,” says Arshdeep.

So how do they see their companies growing? “In the future, you will get to see new things in the industry, especially with the community getting stronger. Ten years ago, not many from the community owned luxury cars but Indian people love cars and you will see more on the roads. Every house in Australia has at least three cars on an average, and the need for services that we offer will increase. That’s why we are trying to grow and add more branches if needed,” says Lovedeep.

Clearly, for the Khakh brothers it has been a journey of a decade growing businesses. Lovedeep says they have gone through the grind as students doing odd jobs and learning each step of the way. But importantly, they also have a message for students struggling to find their way here. “No job is a small job in the beginning, if you go through that hard part and complete your studies and work and study from your heart, everyone will appreciate that and you will grow personally and professionally. The most important thing is you learn even from a small job,” says Lovedeep.

Arshdeep seconds his brother saying they had their fair share of struggle, “but we were together and that made us stronger and handle problems better. The struggle was there but we didn’t take it as a struggle, it was a part of growing so we had the attitude that we had to do it. The hard work paid off, we are satisfied now”.

Lovedeep also notes an incident from his life during his initial days when he walked into the 7-Eleven store near where he lived several times with his resume. One fine day, he was told he would not be given the job because he was wearing a turban. “I came out and I thought, yes, I am in a new country but wearing a turban is something which is important to me and something that makes me proud. I thought I will work hard and prove one day by wearing this turban I will make other people work for me. That gave me the energy to work.”

The two are proving to be a formidable company building businesses that are making their family and community proud. Also, they cannot discount the fact that Australia gives opportunity to all. “I learnt a lot from Australia and I am grateful,” says Lovedeep.

Of course, the advantages of working in a family business is huge but in case of disagreements do they have a structure in place to solve it? “Actually, I think we never had any issue where he wants to do something and I don’t. I know if he wants to do something there will be a point behind it. As long as I understand the point, we go for it. And vice versa. So, it’s a collective decision all the way. We make sure that both us and our family agree on it,” says Lovedeep.

Importantly, as Sikhs the brothers believe in ‘sewa’ (service), something they inculcated from their father who spends most of his time doing that. “I believe in some way trying to help others give us good energy. We have a strong belief in Sikhism, it teaches you to treat everyone equally. We are not perfect at doing everything, but we try to do as much as we can,” says Arshdeep.

The Khakh brothers are unstoppable. They have plans for expansion but would rather talk about them when the plans eventuate. “Rest assured, we want to grow our business to the next level and extend the services from our community to other communities. Also, we would like to help new students who want to do something new,” says Arshdeep.

Lovedeep revels in the fact that he managed to get everything he wanted by continuing to wear the turban. Some incidents don’t vanish from memory, they become the drive to see yourself somewhere at a level of position and strength and success, he quips. Point taken!

By Indira Laisram

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