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