KPR's Blog


U K Experience – Part I

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on November 28, 2020

The year was 2017.October was packing up before the onset of the biting Northern winter. Hema was on the last lap of her master’s at the university of Edinburgh. She had long been urging on us to spend a few days with her before she finished her programme. And we had been resisting since it would mean a drastic realignment of life to suit a foreign protocol.  But when it became a now or never question, we relented and said yes. Once decided things gained a lightening speed. A 15-day visit was scheduled, urgent category visa was obtained, flight was flocked and on a sunny day in the last week of October 2017 we took off to Edinburgh on the hospitable wings of the elite British Airways.

Winter was at the doorstep in UK. Temperature at the airport read 10-degree C. We took early defence and got into our warm fits before we disembarked. A beaming Hema was waiting at the airport with a warm Indian hug. She had thoughtfully arranged for a comfortable sojourn under the northern skies for two weeks and we went straight into a lavishly furnished cosy living space in the Huntley street Apartments. There was everything that would make a family feel at home. Having been booked online the landlord had kept the keys in a small closet outside the gate with the number messaged to Hema. We tasted his hospitality in the abundant stock of tea/coffee/breakfast cereals in the cupboard.

There was everything within a stone’s throw – a TESCO Super store for all everyday needs, a pub to wet the lips with the choicest spirits tasting of the   crystalline Scottish springs and smelling of Oak barrels matured in the deep delved earth, and a metro stop to avail of the user-friendly state transport services.

We settled smoothly into the new environment. After fresh up discussed the itinerary for the days ahead. Here we are in Edinburgh, the Athens of the North, in the land of fables and folklore, myths and mysteries, clans and clashes, where everything carries a vintage tag.

First step from the Royal Mile which stretches from the historic Edinburgh castle to the Queen’s palace at the other end, the Palace of Holy Roodhouse. Edinburgh castle sits atop a volcano dead epoch ago. The castle commands a breath-taking view from its height of 250 feet above the surrounding landscape. Here is the most besieged fortress in history right from the fabled Scottish king Robert Bruce.  Strolling leisurely down the Royal Mile we came by the 12th century St. Giles Cathedral, the Mother church of the Church of Scotland.

Here we take a short break to step into Scottish Whiskey experience, just to beat the cold and boost the spirit. And for the first time get the real cask fresh Scotch experience. They suggest taking it neat. Scotch tells it is exclusive taste only when taken neat.

We take a detour to Hema’s guest accommodation. It is not far from Portobello – an exotic sandy beach on the shore of the North Sea. Ideal for water sports like kayaking or sailing. A seaside place not far from the old town but one of the farthest outdoor places before the polar wilderness.

Visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia was an incredible experience. This 133 footed, three masted yacht was a floating palace in the exclusive service of British Royalty for more than four decades. The 83rd and the last vessel in the British royal service. Decommissioned in 1997 it has been permanently berthed in the port of Leith, Edinburgh. It is one of the star attractions of the city from where one can catch glimpses of royal luxuries. It has hosted four royal honeymoons including that of Diana and Charles in 1981.

The next day we took a break and hung out in the Huntly street Apartment for a real feel of the everyday Scottish life. Visited the TESCO store, bought our choices and customized the kitchen to suit our tastes and preferences. We made use of the utensils and cutlery and cooked our familiar dishes. In the free hours of the afternoon visited the Royal Botanic garden of Edinburgh, a few minutes from the Apartment. A world class plant kingdom in 70 acres, nursed and nurtured over 200 years. The palm house, herbarium, Glasshouse, and the library are like goldmine for the students and researchers in the field. The rest of the evening we spent on the Princess street watching the urban life and occasionally going into shops. Among other things I collected Glenfiddich single malt scotch whiskies for our check-in luggage.

An excursion in 1958

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on September 30, 2020

I am writing about our first family outing in my childhood.

I was only 10 years old when my father took all of us – we five brothers, my mother and Prabhakarachettan, our caretaker to Trivandrum for an excursion. My father was an agriculturist managing the family properties. He was well respected in the village. He was instrumental to the formation of Co-op society and other community organisations in the village. Even though he used to be busy in his works he found time for his social commitments. In his leisure times he used to take his family for Pilgrim trips to Guruvayur, Palani, Tirupati, Rameswaram etc. But this excursion was not only for pleasure but also aimed at educating us. We travelled to Trivandrum by train from Vaikom road station which was the nearest Railway station from our village. As our village was in an island, we used country boats to travel to the mainland. We travelled to Vaikom Road station by our own canopied boat. As it was a rowing boat it took three/four hours for the travel with two oars men. We were excited and thrilled by the boat ride and subsequent train travel to Trivandrum. On reaching Trivandrum we were taken to a Government Choultry near the railway station. This inn was run by the Government and was neatly maintained. We were staying in a large family room. Food was arranged from the nearby Hotel by our caretaker.

On 24th April 1958, our Prime Minister Pandit Nehru was inaugurating the main building of MG College at Trivandrum. MG college is the most prestigious college of Nair Service Society established in 1948. As my father was a union committee member of NSS at that time, he was also invited for the function. He organised this trip to enable us to see the places and attend the programs along with him. An international expo was also organised at the college campus on this occasion. This was the first such exhibition in Kerala. We were in high spirits since our trip itself was first of its kind in our life and the exhibition was like a bonanza. We could watch the inauguration by our beloved Pandit Nehru which was followed by dance and drama by major artists.

The next day we were engaged in visiting Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple and the famous zoological park in Trivandrum. The Trivandrum Zoo set in natural surroundings is one of the oldest of that kind in India. This was opened to public in 1857. The visit to the Zoo was an unforgettable experience for us.

 As our youngest brother took ill due to the changed environment and food, we were forced to take rest for next two days. After spending around four days in Trivandrum we concluded our trip and returned to our village in the same route. This excursion organized during the summer vacation of 1958 was an unforgettable experience in our life.

Winter of 1981 – conclusion

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on August 8, 2020

The next morning started late as holiday mornings usually do. A heavy mist hung around the bungalow. It was a huge mansion which showcased the lordly lifestyle of Bihar aristocracy. Spacious rooms, wide verandas, and massive columns. Agarwal could not have used more than a fraction of the facilities there. He had a whole family of servants for the upkeep of the mansion. We had thought that Agarwal could kick off the next day with a wake-up knock in the morning. But he was not seen till all of us got out of bed. To our surprise the host was seen standing at the arch gate. There he was waiting for the meat vendor. He wanted to surprise us with some non-vegetarian dish.

After lunch he took us to Pokhran forest nearby for a trek. It was widely believed that the Pandavas had stayed there during Vanavas. We were taken to the pond where the Pandavas used to bathe when they stayed there. The land was rugged and hard with bushes growing here and there. No human habitation was sighted. On the way we met a couple of tribals who were known to our host. Here and there we noticed clusters of what appeared to be dark stumps of trees. Coming into closer range they were discovered to be vultures sitting still. We returned after taking a dip in the pond. The pond looked a pool in the paradise with hundreds of water lilies smiling from it in that golden evening.

We had just one more day on hand. And there were two more places to visit – Konar dam and Surajkund hot springs. We got up early for we had a minimum of two hours’ drive to the dam. Unlike yesterday the road to Konar dam wound thru scenic landscapes mostly velvet green at that time of the year. There were no other visitors around to interrupt your enjoyment of the place. We had one more place to visit before sunset – Surajkund hot springs which was some way off. Again, it was a ride across unpeopled countryside with clusters of bushes and green mounds all along. Sahu left the highway and took a country road as directed by Agarwal. It looked a desert place, rough and rocky. In a few minutes we were there. The car stopped under a big banyan tree which stood like an umbrella above a small temple. There was nobody, no human dwelling anywhere within my visible range.

We were already standing before a steaming hot spring. Surajkund is a sulphurous hot spring its waters having medicinal properties. The main spring was steaming water surging from a four-inch hole in the rock. You could get a bowl of rice cooked there in 20 minutes said Agarwal. It was too hot for your bare hands. The water ran in to a square pool close by and to a few others in sequence. We entered the third pool which itself was hot. It was a wonderful experience immersing in a hot sulphurous water as if in you were enjoying in your private pool. We were as fresh as reborn. There could not have been a better time for the poories, and potato curry our host had brought for our outdoor meal. We sat around where we got a square foot of flat surface and enjoyed it like a banqueting family. We were not sure if we could return home before nightfall. We packed up quickly and boarded the car. Agarwal did not forget to collect the spring water in the two ten litre cans he had thoughtfully kept in the dick.

The last day in Hazaribagh. By now Agarwal had become a part of our family or vice – versa. He was an indulgent patriarch to our children and the women folk. He accompanied us upto about 25 miles and took a long, lingering, and reluctant farewell. His benign and beaming face as he stood waving when we drove on remains undimmed in mind even after four decades.

We headed straight for Ranchi located in the southern part of the Chota Nagpur plateau. We had a spot to cover on our way – Hundru falls. It is one of the highest falls there. Unlike other places visited there were enough people at the falls to make it noisy and vibrant. It was already late in the afternoon and we were to wind up the holiday trip in Ranchi that evening. We stayed one night at Ranchi and returned to Calcutta the next day.

The Winter of 1981 – Part I

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on July 26, 2020

 It was my seventh year in Calcutta. We were living in South Calcutta, not very far from my Bank. My childhood friend and cousin Govindan (Prof. Govindankutty Kartha) and my brother in law Shankar were on their maiden visit to Calcutta. Both were accompanied by their spouses. Govindan had Arathy, his first born with him. Shankar was newlywed. Most of the evenings were charted for the city highlights – the Victoria memorial, Kalighat, Dakshineswar, Belur Matt, National Library, the Zoo, Rabindra Sarovar. They enjoyed every moment and relished every experience. Our driver Sahu enthused them with his running accounts and took them proudly around as if showing around his own private estate.

We were toying with the idea of a long weekend trip to somewhere. Our Ambassador car had a virgin charm. As a family car Ambassador had no rivals at the time. And Sahu was waiting for the start whistle.

Mr. Agarwal was a frequent visitor to our Bank – sometimes for his banking needs, at other times casually as a well-wisher. Many a time he suggested that a visit to Hazaribagh, a hill resort in Bihar is well worth making. He had his elder brother, a bachelor, staying in a Bungalow in the Chota Nagpur area. We could avail his cordial hospitality anytime we went there. Now knowing that we had visiting relatives from home, he repeated the offer. This time he sounded too persuasive to resist. Agarwal’s longstanding offer was accepted. Hazaribagh was to be the destination of our long family trip.

 We were 8, not counting the three kids. Besides the 6 of us in the family there were Sahu our driver and Mathew, my friend and colleague in the Bank. Mathew was a person of inexhaustible energy and fun. Thus, the recipe of our dream ride was ready. But there was a snag. Senior Agarwal was known to be an avowed spiritualist and a sworn vegetarian. Hence Mathew apprehended a conflict between the orthodoxies that go with vegetarianism and spiritualism and the ‘spirit ‘of the trip which he had collected in costly bottles. A holiday trip could not end every day with a glass of sweet water and ‘amen’. There cannot be a lock without a key, I told Mathew. Let us launch out.

We set out at 5 am the next Saturday. We were to cover about 500 km before sunset. At many points, our road intersected the bandit’s trail. Drive at odd hours was risky. Most of our way cut thru wild and desolate countryside. Sahu was our David against those dangerous Goliath’s. He knew where their shadows would fall. He wore a reassuring look which dispelled our concerns. We reached Hazaribagh by 5 pm and located the mansion where Agarwal was sitting on a long evening’s wait for us. It was early winter and Hazaribagh being a hill station, chillness thickened from early evening. We looked worn out after the long ride. Agarwal proposed a refreshing bath in the cool and crystalline well water. The water from his well had medicinal properties, he said. Be it as it may we really felt reborn after the bath and thanked generously for his timely advice. Soon we were sitting in the central hall chatting as in family evenings with Agarwal in his armchair. He was discussing his manorial life practices and the arrangements he had made for our night’s rest. Mathew was growing restless since Agarwal showed no intention to sign off. He did not want to embarrass the venerable host by setting the table for drinks. Finally, finding that he would not get a break from Agarwal, Mathew revealed his plans for the evening. Evenings of holiday trips are customarily ‘spirited ‘and he had brought along fine scotches for the purpose. And now we are waiting for his nod. We were all nervous and a tense silence followed. None of us would embarrass such noble and patriarchal host for any reason. The initial grimness on our host’s face softened. He rose from his chair and walked out enigmatically. The suspense and silence prevailed in the room was broken when Agarwal reappeared after a few minutes followed by his servant who carried 5 glasses, soda, and ice box. In a manner of making a policy statement, he said then “You are my guests. It is customary and binding on us to ensure your happiness when you are with us. Athithi Devo Bhava.” He started the session with the condition that he be served first. And ceremoniously Mathew started with the host. Mathew was euphoric and kept the mood doubly hilarious. A delectable feast followed. It was one of the golden evenings in my memory.

My First Visit to Kasi

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on July 21, 2020

It was in the year 1975, while I was working in Federal Bank Kolkata, I got an opportunity to take my parents and my Guru to Kasi. It was their long-cherished dream to visit Kasi during their lifetime. This Guru did only teach me first letters and other character education before going to school.

They were brought by train to Kolkata by my younger brother, Unni. We were staying in a ground floor flat at Gariahat. After giving a break of two days’ rest for my old guests we left for Varanasi by train. I remember the train was Kalka mail and we got down at Mirzapur station, the nearest point for Kasi on those days. After settling down in a small hotel, we visited the temple the next day. As the guides were charging too high, we went to the temple straight thru the small lanes. We had the Darshan of Lord Vishwanath (The deity was submerged in Ganga water in the underground of Sanctum Sanctorum.)  An old hermit sitting by the side of the inner circle of the temple told me that, as we do not have children and are longing for a child, it was better to do a homam so that our wish will be fulfilled. Even though I did not take it as granted we went for the Homam.

 After wards we visited Birla Tulasimanasmandir, Banaras Hindu University and Birla temple. The next day while on our way to Mirzapur we visited Vindhyachal Durga temple where Lord Rama did worship, according to belief. Then we left for Allahabad for visiting Triveni Sangamam. The next day, after visiting Anand Bhavan (Nehru’s family house) we left by a country boat to Triveni Sangamam. The boat was tugged by big rope to control against the flow of River Yamuna. The journey thru Yamuna river up to Triveni was very pleasant. The boat was anchored in the middle of the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi (imaginary) to enable us to take dip in Triveni Sangamam. All of us except my mother got down in the chest deep water to take the holy dip. Myself and my brother lifted our mother and dipped her in the Sangamam to have the holy dip. All were enthralled by the holy experience.

After returning from Triveni we took rest before boarding night train to Kolkata. It was a very enjoyable journey for all. After reaching Kolkata, after resting for a day we visited Kalighat, Dakshineswar and the Birla Planetarium. In a few days we accompanied them to our native place. After returning from native place, we were greeted with the good news that my wife was carrying my first daughter.

CONFRONTING MORTALITY

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on April 21, 2020

The most important and hardest thing anyone can do in their life will be confronting their own mortality. From the day we were born into this world, we are struggling for survival. All our efforts are aimed at a happy life. Presently, when I see the confrontation by the people today to save their lives from the deadly Corona virus, I remember my mother’s life story told to me by her, happened around 85 years back. In the 19th century cholera killed many lakhs of people in British India. It came to our village also and my elder sister and grandfather (maternal) were the casualty. Even though the doctor from the Government hospital tried his level best to save them, he could not succeed. Many people died. After a few days of this tragedy, the deadly disease struck my mother. When the doctor could not succeed in stopping the symptoms my father was aghast with despair. A few meters away was the bungalow of a renowned Ayurvedic Physician Namboodiri who was close to our family. The Namboodiri seldom goes out for treatments. My father went to him in despair and told the condition of my mother and requested him to save her from death. Namboodiri thought for a moment and accompanied my father to my house. After examining my mother, he asked my father to arrange some herbs immediately which were available in our own property. He asked my fathers assistant to make a brew (concoction) using certain herbs and spices under his supervision. The brew was ready in few hours. He himself served a spoonful medicine to her and asked my father to continue it every three hours until the cholera symptoms disappear. By the next morning, my mother was cheerful and taken some gruel. In two to three days she was completely out of danger. The Namboodiri physician took it as a challenge and told my father after examining my mother – “How can she die of a cholera disease when the age-old Ayurveda has got medicines for all such ailments “. The great Physician was like God to us. We all five brothers were born after that. I want my children and my friends to know about this story of confrontation my mother had to save her life.

The plight of senior citizens

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on March 3, 2020

If you analyze the life of senior citizens for the last few generations, we can observe that the respect, recognition and love they get have come down from the earlier period. In my childhood elders were well respected and loved. The younger generation used to get the advices and guidance of their elders in any matters. They were kept in high esteem. But if you explore the emotional worlds of the rapidly aging population today you can understand the predicament of the aged population. Many elders are in fact, completely unprepared for what they must face in their difficult old age and the road that lies ahead of them.

According to my view, if we understand and keep in mind some situations, we will be prepared for what is to come, and you will not panic.

  • The people by your side will only continue to grow smaller in number. While your peers will increasingly find it harder to look after them, the younger generation will all be busy with their own lives. Even your life partner may depart earlier than you, or than you would expect, and what might then come are days of desolation. You will have to learn how to live alone, and to enjoy and embrace solitude.
  • No matter how glorious your previous career was or how famous you were, ageing will always transform you into a regular old man. The spotlight no longer shines on you, and you must learn to contend with, standing quietly in one corner admiring and appreciating the hubbub and the views that come after you. You must overcome the urge to be envious and grumble. Society will care less and less for you.
  • The road ahead will be rocky and full of precarity. Fractures, memory loss, hearing loss, heart blockages, cerebral atrophy, cancer…. these are all possible guests that could pay you a visit any time, and you would not be able to turn them away. You will have to live with illness and ailments, to view them as friends, even, do not fantasize about stable, quiet days without any trouble in your body. You should have a positive mentality and do appropriate and adequate exercise to encourage yourself to keep at it consistently.
  • Prepare yourself for a bed bound life. When you were a child, you were lovingly attended by your mother who brought you in to this world. But at old age, even if you have kin, there care may never come close to that of your mother. You will, more likely than not, be cared for by a home nurse who bear zero relation to you, wearing smiles on their faces while carrying boredom in their hearts. Lay still and be grateful to them.
  • Remember that the money earned and saved by you is entirely for spending for your well being. Beware, and be careful, hold the money close to you. A fool and his money are soon parted, so spend your pennies wisely.

Once you retire from active life, it would do you all well to see life for what it is ,to cherish what you have , to enjoy life whilst you can, and not to take on society’s troubles or your children’s and grand children’s affairs on for yourself. Stay humble, don’t act superior on account of your own age and talk down to others – this will hurt yourself as much it will hurt others.

In these later days of your lives, you must understand what it means, to let go of your attachments, to mentally prepare yourself. The way of nature is the way of life; go with its flow and live with equanimity.

Genlite Saga

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on September 6, 2019

The Saga of Genlite is synonymous with the business life of K P Ramachandran (KPR)

The 80s – Formation and consolidation.

The seed of inception of GENLITE started when KPR resigned from his esteemed Bank Manager’s position at a renowned private Bank on the 31st of March 1983. He was joined by a colleague MJ Tommy and jointly they became the Directors of Genlite Private Ltd (GPL), a private limited company, registered in Calcutta with Calcutta ROC during Sep 1982. The company made a strategic decision to expand its business into South India and opened its Chennai office (Corporate Office) in April 1983. KPR took over as MD of the company and managed entire operations at the Chennai Head office at 126, Thambu chetty Street in Georgetown area. Shortly thereafter in Jun 1983, another branch of GPL was opened in Coimbatore with MJ Tommy managing as its head. In May 1983, KPR’s brother K P Unnikrishnan (KPU) joined the company as a Management executive and in Feb 1984 when the Bangalore Branch was opened, KPU took over as the head of Karnataka operations. During FY’85, factory activities were started on leased premises at Mount Road, Saidapet in Chennai and simultaneously on rented premises at Bommanahalli in Bangalore. In Jan 1986, the Kochi branch was opened and then General Manager, V Ramachandran (VR), took over as Head of Kerala operations. On 1st April 1986 the corporate head office was shifted to more spacious premises on the ground floor of 19, Mooker Nallamuthu Street in Chennai.

During 1988 the Directors of GPL mutually decided to separate and start their own activities. KPR started Genlite Diesels, (GD) a proprietary concern – the parent organization of present Genlite Group. Mr. Tommy started Genlite Sales and Service (GSS). Both organizations agreed to work as separate entities, but as associate concerns. The other directors of GPL continued with activities mainly based out of Calcutta.

Thereafter, in the same year, Genlite Diesels purchased its own factory premises at B2, SIDCO Industrial estate and shifted factory activities to the newly acquired premises. After this reorganization, GD took over all the businesses of GPL at Chennai, Bangalore and Kochi. All staff members of erstwhile GPL were confirmed as permanent employees of GD effective from 1st Jan 1990. On 29th Jan 1990 a new company, Genlite Generators Pvt Ltd. (GGPL), was incorporated. That was promoted by KPR and Mrs. Valsala Ramachandran. Mr. K.Suresh from Vijayawada and KPU also joined as Directors in GGPL. Mr. Suresh focused on managing the business in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The factory activities were shifted to Pondicherry in the name of GGPL during 1990. During this period, Genlite had a network of 12 dealers operating in over four southern states.

The 90s – Period of Liberalization/Globalization

Under the able leadership of KPR, Genlite went on to become the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for big brands such as Kirloskar Oil Engines Limited (KOEL), Ashok Leyland and Caterpillar. All the principal companies rendered their full support to the company and Genlite soon became the best Genset OEM (GOEM) for KOEL, Leyland and Caterpillar engine-powered Gensets.

The goodwill generated by the Genlite group of companies in the South has built its own trademark of professionalism and quality. During April 1990 Genlite started factory activities in Kerala. And during FY’91, the factory at Pondicherry was shifted to new premises with advanced facilities. From 1993 onwards, Genlite also started exclusive annual corporate meets (called ‘Sangamam’) that were basically family get-together involving the Principal (KOEL), Dealers and the Genlite team. The very first Sangamam was at Kochi – in Bolgatti Island in Jan 1993. These Sangamams continued as an annual affair thereafter, wherein the entire Genlite ‘family’ got the opportunity to unwind and rejoice.

In July 1993, the untimely demise of Mr. Tommy (31/07) lead to the staff of Coimbatore region joining GGPL. Mr. Tommy’s son, Joe Tommy, took over as senior manager to manage the Coimbatore region. During November 1993, K P Gopinathan (KPG) brother of KPR joined as an Executive Director in GGPL and took charge of Pondicherry works. Then in 1997 (15th Dec), a new partnership firm was incorporated (Genlite Engineering) with KPR as the managing partner and both his daughters (Maya and Hema) as the other partners.

In the union budget of 1991 when the union cabinet opened up the economy, many global players started establishing their presence in India. By end of the 90s, engine manufacturers started to adopt a system of polarization and started asking GOEMs to opt for brand exclusivity. By 2000, Genlite had opted to stay with the Kirloskar group and became a leading GOEM for KOEL in the South. In order to closely service customers in the south of Tamilnadu, the Madurai Branch was opened in May 2000.

METAMORPHOSIS

The first decade of the new millennium saw a major transition in the Gensets business. At this point, KOEL wanted exclusivity from its partners and wanted Genlite to operate only in Tamilnadu, Pondicherry and Kerala. Accordingly, operations were withdrawn from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Correspondingly KPU and Suresh resigned from GGPL. During 2005 the Ministry of Environment, Government of India brought out a new regulation for Diesel Generators that restricted the noise level limits of Generators to 75db(at a distance of one meter from the generator).This regulation forced all DG sellers to start making acoustic enclosures to reduce the engine noise to within 75db. Since the manufacturing of acoustic enclosures in large numbers required the use of CNC controlled punch machine and folding machine in addition to other sophisticated welding and painting equipment; continuing this business meant that the Gensets equipment assemblers would have to make huge investments in order to become full-fledged manufacturers. While the investment for Gensets assembly was approx. 15 to 20 lakhs, manufacturing of DG sets with acoustic enclosure needed approx. 10 to 15 crores of investment. Anticipating a good business opportunity, Genlite invested around 10 crores in 2005 to establish a factory at F63, SIPCOT Industrial Estate at Irungattukottai, Chennai with the requisite CNC machines to manufacture acoustic enclosures for generators, in technical collaboration with the Kirloskar group. During this time, the company decided to shift its corporate office to a more central area in Chennai. On 31st August 2005, the corporate office opened at 42, Sterling road in Nungambakkam. The newly equipped factory started its production on 4th January 2006. In order to increase the sales and market share, Genlite appointed around 20 dealers in their territory. And on 25th Jan 2007, Genlite Engineering was converted into a Private limited company, Genlite Engineering Pvt. Ltd. (GEPL) with KPR, Maya, Hema, KP Gopinathan and Valsala Ramachandran as its directors. While KPR managed the total management of the company as MD, Maya took charge of HR and Administration. Hema took control of marketing functions. KPG took charge of manufacturing. Hereafter the entire business and activities of Genlite group centered at GEPL.  During this period the company formed three Zones at Chennai, Coimbatore, Down South and entrusted the management respectively to G.Sam, Joe Tommy and K K Jayakumar General Managers and Kerala Zone continued with VR as its head. In July of the same year, Genlite opened its factory at Puthencruz to facilitate the sales in Kerala. In the Gensets industry, Genlite became the market leader in Kerala and Tamilnadu and Genlite is Genset for many people in these zones.

And in May 2009, the Trivandrum branch was opened to cater to the business in southern Kerala which was brought under Down South Zone.. And as the overall sales increased, Genlite acquired additional factory space at F83 in SIPCOT Industrial estate to augment production (25th Feb 2013). Meanwhile, the corporate office was shifted to a more spacious place at 57, Officers Colony, Mehta nagar in 2014 (1st August). As Hema wanted to pursue higher studies overseas she left Genlite activities during FY17. Subsequently, she relinquished the Directorship. Accordingly the marketing functions were assigned to respective Zonal heads.

During this period Koel wanted to give more thrust on the higher HP segment (200 KVA and above). Genlite developed an exclusive HHP team for all Zones and selected experienced personnel to handle this business. Mr.Pramod Kumar, General Manager, was appointed to head this segment. Genlite was the first among all the GOEMs to take this step. From FY’17 onwards, Genlite’s HHP sales have grown by leaps and bounds. Understanding the capability and competence of Genlite’s team, KOEL annexed the state of Telengana also to Genlite, effective from FY’18. A branch was opened at Hyderabad on 3rd Dec 2017 to manage the sales in Telengana. And in order to have a better control of management activities, the directors of Genlite decided to form a top management committee comprising of all working Directors, Zonal heads, HHP head and CFO in Dec 2017. This committee was asked to conduct meetings (either in person or via digital means such as Skype, teleconference, etc.) once every 45 days to discuss and decide on marketing, production, human resources and finance/accounting matters. The committee was empowered to take policy decisions on these matters in these meetings and to minute them.

During these three decades Genlite got many reputed customers like Railways, APSRTC, NTPC, IOCL, BPCL , HPCL, IBP, SBI, AIR and DD, CPWD, BSNL, KINFRA, Tuticorin Port Trust, NPCL, CMC; private companies like Tata, L&T, Nestle, Ramalinga group of Cotton Mills; telecom companies like Airtel, Idea, Vodafone; various colleges and educational institutions like the Jeppiar Group and many leading corporate customers like ESAF Bank, Equitas Bank, Flipkart, Curefoods, BITS, Kalyan Jewellers, and the Hatsun group.

A look at the numbers will show that while Genlite was manufacturing and selling around 2158 gensets (worth 108 crores approx.) in FY’09; Genlite has produced and sold 5841 Gensets in FY’19 achieving a turnover of 256 crores and also becoming the No.1 GOEM in India for selling the maximum number of DG sets. Genlite has got the maximum number of dealers (27 dealers) covering over four states and has also conducted 22 Sangamams over the years in various destinations both in India and abroad.

(Genlite is a registered trade mark of the group of Genlite concerns owned by KPR)

 

 

 

My Memoirs at Federal Bank – Part II

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on June 11, 2019

Tumultuous seventies, in a spree of socio-political reforms Indira Gandhi was toying with the idea of nationalising private Banks. Fear of take over seized the Federal Bank too. Our MD made a pre-emptive strike by confirming all trainees as clerks. On January 1970 I became a permanent staff on the payrolls of Federalbank. My monthly salary was around Rs.200/. It was a lot more huge a sum than now. For a comfortable sustenance covering boarding and lodging , Rs.100/ was enough in those days in Trivandrum. I still had another 100 for personal indulgences. My salad days! Federalbank was expanding its network base at incredible succession. Not a week passed without a branch being opened somewhere in the State. A branch was opening at Poochakkal too – 3/4 kilometres from my home at Thycattusserry. Obviously I was one of the first to be counted for the branch. The prospect did not attract me. The image of a bank  clerk- that too a scheduled Private Bank- would not fit into the expectations of our village folk about me. My father commanding a status and respect of an upper middle class family his son was destined to occupy a position above the clerk in social reckoning in those days. Banking job has appreciated phenomenally since then and today a banking job is a dream job for even professionally and academically brilliant youth. Hence I requested our MD to reconsider my posting to Poochakkal. But the MD in his characteristic persuasive tone asked me to clear away my misconceptions and get ready for the new assignment. I was going to be posted there as what would appear to be the second in command. I would be able to play a much bigger and responsible role than anywhere else as a clerk. He assured my father who was sceptical from the very beginning, that he won’t have to regret long, for his son would be senior manager not long before and that bigger prospects awaited him. He made it a point to invite my father as a dignitary at the inaugural function of the Poochakkal branch.

MD’s words were prophetic. They were not mere propitiatory promises made to please a father who was not impressed with his son’s banking job. My term at Poochakkal opened for me a field of experience that involved me at the entire gamut of banking from seed to fruit. Poochakkal was a typical rural Bank. It was to be the trusted financial institution of a whole village community for all their needs. The style of functioning was more personalised than institutionalised. Each customer wanted to feel that it was his Bank and a personal warmth underlay all dealings. The manager Joseph Maveli himself a native forged links with customers appropriate to their standing and worth. During those formative months at Poochakkal I became unconsciously morphed in to a banker. I had been customised as a full fledged banking professional by the time I was promoted and posted at Alleppy as Accountant.

 

 

My memoirs at Federal Bank – Part I

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on June 5, 2019

What you turnout to be after the age of 25 will be decided by the three or four things you do or don’t do in the closing years of your teenage. My academic performance at SMSJ High school and Sacred Heart College, Thevara would suggest that I was heading to a top professional destination in Medicine. The BSc (special) Zoology – supposedly equivalent of BSc (Honours) – was deemed to be a corridor to a profession in Medicine. ( My best friend and companion in the college Sashi retired few years back from AIIMS as a Professor of Medicine.) But time  condemned it as an utterly ill-conceived educational experiment that sacrificed a whole generation of promising adults. I was fated to be one. After BSc I joined the Trivandrum Law college in 1969, not with any compulsive ambitions in judiciary. I was just joining a course that would not block or disqualify me to take up some decent job in future. Options for a law graduate were as open as any other baccalaureate. Any degree was a threshold for any job in the sixties and in the seventies with the exception of engineering and medical profession. I took the plunge and moved to Trivandrum .in. The year was 1969. When in doubt play the trump – as elders would advise at card play. Similarly ‘ if you can’t decide what is best for you , move to Trivandrum.’ The city will decide what’s best for you and groom you for the same. I had no apprehensions, nor my family had any. There was Kuruppuchettan ( PNS Kurup of Local funds) who used to be the acknowledged patron for all who migrated to Trivandrum from our village.The grandear of the capital city,the incessant regularity of cultural events , theatres, visits of dignitaries, the homeliness of the circle of friends, the evening walk from Palayam to East fort that would cover all that  was to be seen and known in the city in those days….Life fell in to settled routine.

I had not gone far in to Law before I chanced upon an advertisement by Federal Bank inviting graduates for graduate trainees in the Bank. I was not too eager to take up a banking job, nor was I too desperate to divorce Law. It was a casual decision to try my luck with the Bank. During the interview MD of the Federal Bank gave me two options- either to join Bank immediately as a trainee and seek promotion as officer after 2 to 3 years or to proceed with law degree and join the Bank as an officer on completion. I opted for immediate recruitment bracing to face destiny as it came on its own terms. I was posted as a graduate trainee at the Palayam branch of the Bank. At the prime age of 21 I became an employee of the Bank and joined the inmates of Cochin lodge where my patron PNS was staying along with his friends.

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