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Dish TV – subscriber additions encouraging L&T profit up by 11 per cent Gamesa to set up a plant in Nellore Welcome focus to improve rural India... Record two-wheeler sales A niche in FMCG business... M & M unveils driverless technology for tractors Toyota and Suzuki to introduce EVs in India by 2020 From the toughest to the best year Hindalco – re-rating Singur minus Nano – victory or folly? Mercedes-Benz sales continue to zoom CAPITAL NOTES Maruti – for young buyers Back in growth mode Right to privacy – now it’s fundamental! Smooth sailing of SAIL Sivasankaran enters taxi space to take on Uber and Ola Eyes strong growth in 2016-17 L&T bags the Mumbai Trans-harbour link order Sundram Fasteners rejigs international PSU non-life firms seek to protect share L & T set bigger ambitions in defence business Tata gets 4-star rating for Zest Ode to Ratan Tata V-Guard launches app-enabled water heater system HPCL plans Rs.61,000 crore capex over 5-years Tata Steel, ThyssenKrupp sign MoU to merge European units The unexpected exit ITC chairman calls for policy impetus to transform agriculture L & T’s floating dock for navy Ponni Sugars (Erode) Ltd: not so sweet 2012-13 Rane targets Rs.5500 crore topline by 2018-19 E.I.D Parry (India) Ltd: another sweet year TI Cycles plans retail expansion to drive sales for premium bicycles ITC – steep excise hike Land wars Increasing market share Daimler’s truck exports from Chennai cross 5000 units Yamaha unveils scooter boutique Consolidating leadership position in smartphones Is this a generation gap? Tata Motors bets on new launches Last stages Smartphone onslaught by Chinese brands LVB posts 31 per cent growth in Q1 net profit Housing demand revival Forging industry worried over lower supply of steel and its price Wabco launches safety system The gainers and the losers New India Assurance posts impressive show Bajaj Finserv – Q1: fare well IOB on turnaround path RoC in the dock... Emami – a new growth mantra Michelin to double Chennai capacity He excels in the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship Carnival Films acquiring 3000 screens pan India Solar installations exceed 2015 capacity in five months 29 per cent jump in TCS revenues Aurobindo Pharmacy: good turnaround Nissan exit shouldn’t affect ALL It takes two to tango PPP model for infrastructure development TN government keen on revival of operations at Nokia complex AL wins Deming prize again Are they really independent? Tata Motors charts investments in PV and CV businesses When small is not so beautiful… A welcome initiative-even critics are recognised Vellayan is back, after 150 days Titan Company – sales recovery to kick in Chinese smart phones flourish in small towns too! Preparing for the next growth curve Hyundai to focus on SUVs and AMT variants AL secures orders for 3600 buses Daimler grows sales and share in India Tata Motors aims to be among the Top 3 global CV & PV firm Kone India eyes further growth in elevator market TVS Automobile invests Rs.75 crore in start-up firms TVS Srichakra plans capacity expansion AL introduces Guru & Partner Tata Motors joins compact SUV bandwagon with Nexon Shriram Life clocks more than Rs.1000 crore premium in 2015-16 Hyundai India achieves 7 mn production at Chennai factory
 
He excels in the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship
The most notable feature of Sundram Fasteners relates to its man-management. The focus on human relations and the paternalistic concerns explain the unit not losing a single day of production due to industrial relations’ issues.

My association with Suresh extended to the 1960s when I entered journalism. We used to meet at the office of S N Ramasami, the brilliant advertising manager of the group – a freedom fighter in white khadi, a four cubit dhoti and jibba – extremely knowledgeable with a blunt exterior and a soft heart. Suresh was just back after studying literature (not the traditional engineering or accounts common for scions of business families) in Germany. 

He described his entry into business: “uncle TS Srinivasan, asked me to take charge of a bolts and nut manufacturing unit in the small scale sector at the Ambattur Industrial Estate.  I had least idea then on the technology or process but the machinery supplier provided inputs on these. I went into the details and learned the techniques of cold forging and extrusion by experience and close involvement.”

In those years, the field was dominated by the company, Fit Tight Nuts and Bolts P Ltd,  Mumbai and the British company Guest, Keen, Williams that was supplying bolts and nuts to the railways and other large customers in the engineering sector. When Fits Tight Bolts and Nuts had a labour problem which led the management closing down the shop, there was a windfall opportunity for SFL; the company was alert in grabbing it. SFL built its own plant at the huge Padi complex so thoughtfully conceived and built by T S Srinivasan. In quick time SFL became a dominant supplier of bolts and nuts. 

 

The CII exposure...

Suresh expanded his horizons, initially as the chairman of CII southern region and subsequently as the President of CII at the national level. This provided rich opportunities to interact with policymakers as also observe business organisations at the national and global plane. I remember the punishing schedule of his travelling thousands of miles for almost 24 days a month on CII business. This exposure took his credentials as a reliable and effective business leader. And opportunities for expansion increased. General Motors offered him the opportunity to supply radiator caps as original equipment. Suresh transplanted a British plant to Padi and in quick time emerged a prized vendor for GM. 

 

Total productivity management...

Suresh constantly focused on systems and quality. I remember the passion with which he pursued the Japanese concept of total productivity management (TPM). He invited the TPM Guru Yamaguchi from Japan and passionately pursued the TPM concept. I remember his success in taking productivity of machines from around 35 per cent to over 80 per cent resulting in savings on capital investment and surging profits. 

Yet another pioneering contribution of SFL relates to his foray into manufacturing of fasteners in China. SFL was the earliest to make bold to set up a plant in China despite issues relating to language, distance… Later SFL acquired a precision forge unit in UK. These exposures further helped in the cross-fertilisation of manufacturing practices. 

The most notable factor of SFL relates to its man-management. Articulate Suresh spends time liberally addressing his workers in all his plants and establishes close rapport with them. The liberal pay packages and other benefits have built loyalty. Suresh refers with satisfaction to the hundreds of SFL workers providing quality education to their children who are employed today across the globe. 

Wife Usha was heading with distinction Upasana Finance and has been richly contributing to the growth of SFL and Suresh. Daughters Arathi and Arundathi are at the helm managing SFL. 

During 2016-17 SFL had a turnover of Rs. 3000 crore with a third of it coming from exports.  It has 27 plants employing over 9000. Surely Suresh and his teams know the nuts and bolts of successful entrepreneurship.- SV 


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