India's Hero: Then, Now & Forever
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The patriarch of the legendary Hero Group, Late Dr Brijmohan Lall Munjal, was among the early first generation entrepreneurs of independent India. He is a classic example of how humility and perseverance can help convert a big dream into reality by starting small and thinking big, both as a human being and businessman.
Dr Munjal’s extraordinary characteristic of putting quality over quantity gave India its largest bicycle producer and the world its largest two-wheeler manufacturer. This continues to drive Hero Group even today and will so in future too.
The bicycle and two-wheeler czar, Dr Munjal can be rightfully credited as the man who made India move on two wheels, helping the lower and middle class emerge with an affordable transportation mode. More than that he reflected the true Indian spirit of risk-taking by foraying into motorcycles at a time when the nation’s love for humble scooters was stronger than ever.
Valuing his gut instincts and relationships more than making money, Dr Munjal without any management lessons changed the rules of the industry and introduced norms that were unheard of.
He made strategic relationships with not just his employees, but also with his vendors, dealers, etc. to gain acceptance as a value player among them, who have been the pillar of support to the group through thick and thin.
The fact that Dr Munjal was averse to understanding technology was visible in his decision during 1980s to choose a four-stroke engine technology for its two wheelers instead of conventional two-stroke engine that catapulted the then Hero Honda group’s growth to an overwhelming success.
That proved to be a masterstroke of Dr Munjal’s ability to think ahead of its peers. Ludhiana, one of the biggest trading hubs of Punjab and north India, owes significantly to Dr Munjal who was a bit more affectionate towards the city where Hero Group had its genesis.
To count a few, many school and educational institutions including one of the top Indian medical colleges – the not-for-profit Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana Stock Exchange and Ludhiana Flying Club had come up with the core support of the Munjal Family. Dr Munjal is now survived by three sons and one daughter.
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (December 2015 Issue)).