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London, London Narayan

The doyen of Indian tyre industry, K M Mammen Mappllai, used to address the chairman of Rane Group, L L Narayan, as London London Narayan, for his frequent trips to London and the collaborations he tied up. LLN built the famous auto component units of Rane Madras, Engine Valves and Rane Brake Linings into reputed industrial enterprises, from scratch. For over five decades, the group has maintained its lead in this race. Importantly, these units won the prestigious Deming award for their consistent quality and systems. 

In line with the pattern observed, especially in Chennai, of large trading houses taking up the manufacture of the imported products they handled, Rane set up manufacturing facilities in collaboration with famous British companies. In no time, the product range expanded from tie rod ends to steering assemblies engine valves, brake linings and so on. With sharp focus, LLN ensured quick transfer of technology, assimilating the production techniques and continued its expansion to meet the growing demand from OEM and the aftermarket. 

LLN also had broader social concerns. He was intimately involved with the Ganapathy Iyer Higher Secondary School, Gopalapuram, named after the founder of Rane and his father-in-law, and with Meenakshi College for Women. The group set up the Margaret Sidney Hospital in Nanganallur, one of the earliest community public health centeres. 

The Chennai pioneers also had time to stand and stare. I remember the regular after-lunch sessions at V D 

Swami & Co for a game of cards. LLN and R Narayan among others, used to rummy together with VD Swami, in a specially designed ante-room at the Khivraj Mansions office of Swami. 

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