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His focus on productivity helped in exports

K Mahesh (1943-2019)

The 100-plus your old TVS group boasts of being present in virtually every sector in the south.
A metallurgy graduate from the famed Indian Institute of Technology- Madras, Mahesh, son of T S Krishna, led Sundaram Brake Linings with distinction.
In the early 1960s, TVS entered the auto components sector. T S Srinivasan, the youngest son of Founder T V Sundram Iyengar, acquired 300 acres of land in Padi, a western suburb of Chennai. There he set up a series of manufacturing units, and I was present at the inauguration of the auto component units: Wheels India, Brakes India… The quick success of the units paved the way for newer units and provided a precious opportunity for the scions of the family. The expertise, experience and reputation earned by TVS facilitated stitching new collaborations with established multinationals.
Sundaram Abex, set up in the late 1970s, was unique in starting with public participation. I was present at the public issue for a modest Rs 25 lakh for producing brake linings. The management of Sundaram Abex was entrusted to K Mahesh. In line with the TVS practice, Mahesh was put on training at factories in the UK and India for around five years and was mentored by T S Srinivasan.
The collaboration did not last long. In 1995 Abex left the joint venture and the company became Sundaram Brake Linings Ltd (SBL). Mahesh built on the strong base laid and like his other neighbours in Padi, focused on total quality management and overall productivity management. SBL emerged soon as a significant supplier to OEMs and also as a significant exporter.
Mahesh worked on constant improvements to productivity. Once he took me around his plant and showed me the re-arrangement of a dozen automated workstations to be manned by a single operator!
Mahesh suffered indifferent health and left management to his son Krishna in 2014, who joined SBL over a decade earlier.
Under Mahesh, the company won the prestigious Deming award from the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers. Mahesh was specific about exports and wished that half the turnover should come from abroad. -SV

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