India’s Best Managed Companies and Manufacturing

It is not that it happens. Do they follow some set principles and policies, or use some set tools and techniques? Many look into the evolution of the company and deduce some mantras of management success. Business Today’s list of the best managed companies in India that has appeared in its March 23, issue includes Larsen & Toubro (industrial products), ICICI Bank, Reliance Industries (energy, chemicals & utilities), Grasim Industries (materials), Tata Steels (metals and mining), ITC (retail and consumer products), Great Eastern Shipping Co. (transport and logistics), Bharati Airtel (technology, media and telecom), and Tata Motors (Automotive).

I keep on looking for the manufacturing companies, as that has been my area of engagement. Interestingly, the list includes L&T and Tata Motors that are from manufacturing sector with L&T right at the top. And both are moving ahead fast enough to become global soon with organic as well as inorganic growth. L&T is moving into ship building as well as power equipment manufacturing. L&T can help building a leadership for India in the sophisticated engineering products and large project implementation. I wish it developed world-class vendors using the untapped and unutilized manufacturing facilities of the country that can provide sustainable employment of large number of people.

Tata Motors has grown beyond its traditional mainstay commercial vehicles manufacturing to cover the wide range from ‘Sumo’ to ‘Nano’ and that will get further widened very soon with high end ‘Jaguar’ and ‘Rover’. Sumo, Indica and Indigo, Ace, and then Nano can cater to the domestic market and build a profitable scale. Both Ace and Nano has all the potentials than can increase its scale to make it globally competitive. Tata Motors can also be the prime mover to take India’s auto component sector to a greater height and the sector can become world leader.

But it was not always like that. I was in Tata Motors, Jamshedpur (it was called TELCO) for a vocational training in 1959 with some of my friends from IIT, Kharagpur. It was huge even in those days but with manufacturing only at Jamshedpur. It was a truck company and was also manufacturing locomotive engines. In 1961 I joined Hindustan Motors, as most of my friends from IIT had also joined it. HM paid Rs 400 per month as salary, while TELCO paid only Rs 200 per month as stipend. Over the years, I kept in touch with TELCO, as some of my friends from HM joined TELCO in later years. It may surprise many that I undertook some very successful courses on general machining management and gear technology in TELCO, Jamshedpur in 1993. TELCO even in those days concentrated in building its technical capability and was flexible enough to do anything to excel. It went with Cummins for technology-wise better engines and developed its machine building capability that cut down its investment for new projects. At one time I used to tell my friends in industry that TELCO machine building division can produce better machine tools than even HMT. TELCO had huge technical training facilities to man its manufacturing shops. However, on R&D it didn’t concentrate much in those days.

Fortunately, the strong and successful line of products today provides all evidences for it shifted priority for R&D and innovation. And today it is one of the best managed companies of the country. But will it be one of the top 5 automobile manufacturers of the world very soon? Perhaps one day it may happen. It will depend on the leadership of the person who takes over from Ratan Tata. However, Ratan can live a long active life for Tata Motors to make it a Toyota from India.

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