Building a dome of success

Updated: Mar 26 2006, 05:30am hrs
How often would you find a woman sweating it out on a construction site But if you are in Pune, chances are that you will spot Sandhya Thakur slogging at construction sites lending that final touch of elegance to the structures. A majority of the reputed builders in Pune do not hesitate to give her an assignment on their projects. Manufacturing a 25 ft by 25 ft fibre dome six feet high is not an easy task. The dome not only needs to be strong, but also translucent since it acts as a skylight for most buildings. But Thakur has made a name for herself for taking on such challenging assignments.

A fibre specialist, Thakur, has made her mark in the male-dominated construction industry through a lot of hard work and grit. She chose fibre fabrication as her entrepreneurship engine. Thakur has worked on pyramid skylights at petrol pumps, domes without structural support, tractor cabins used by sugar factories, roofing sheets apart from doors, partition panels, water tanks and false ceilings.

Her factory at Mhalunge in Pune still showcases her first effort as an entrepreneura fibre glass shield that was made for the Maharashtra police 12 years ago. An effort that failed completely. A lesser woman would have probably given up the battle then. But that did not deter me. I continued to tap various sources starting out as a small manufacturer of fibre basins for beauty parlours, she recollects.

Thakur got her first big break when Gagani Builders from Pune asked her to manufacture domes for their construction site. She completed the single-piece (20-ft) dome without any kind of structural support in two months. Fibre is weather-proof, rust-proof, does not require painting and has high resistance to impact. The construction industry prefers fibre products due to the low maintenance cost and excellent transparency, she said.

And orders began to roll in. Thakur came to be known as a fibre dome and pyramid specialist. Today all the big construction companies in Pune B G Shirke Constructions, DY Patil Constructions, DS Kulkarni, Rohan Builders, and Kumar Builders who between them could be building close to 20 million sq. ft, are her customers. This was not an easy market to capture as there are dime a dozen fibre units.

But Thakur has been able to carve a niche in the single- fibre domes, something that others are struggling to do. A mother of two, she now counsels women entrepreneurs at the womens entrepreneurs wing of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture. Her message to them is: There is nothing you cannot do. Just go out and make the effort. Success will come to you.