New Delhi, Sept 5 : India's tyre industry is booming and much of the credit for its progress over the years should go to four players viz Apollo Tyres, MRF, JK Industries and Ceat, which enjoy over 70 per cent of the country's total market share.
The Indian tyre industry dates back to 1926 when Dunlop Rubber Limited set up the first tyre company in West Bengal. Madras Road Factory (MRF) followed suit in 1946. Since then, the tyre industry has expanded rapidly and today is valued at Rupees 9000 crores.
Part of the success of India's tyre industry goes to Punjabis like Onkar Singh Kanwar, the current Chairman and Managing Director of Apollo Tyres.
Apollo Tyres is the leading Indian tyre manufacturer with annual revenue of over one billion US dollars. Along with acquisition of Dunlop Tyres International and being the first company to launch branded tyre stores, the company has many landmarks to its credit.
Onkar Singh credits Raunaq Singh, his father for this, saying he has left a legacy to him, which he feels proud to carry forward.
The company had a humble beginning in 1975, when Raunaq Singh was given a paper license by the Government of Kerala to manufacture tyres.
While explaining the inception of Apollo Tyres, Onkar Singh says, "India had a license system in those days. So, we purchased it from them to establish a factory in 1977. "
The senior Kanwar was an established trader of steel pipes in Lahore, when he came to India in 1948. He started his business from scratch, which grew with time. Offices and shops were set up in Bombay and Calcutta. As his business started doing well, he sent Onkar Singh to USA in 1960, where he studied Business Administration (Industrial Engineering) in California.
Soon after completing his education in California, Onkar Singh started working there in a factory that produced machines for manufacturing pipes. The president of the company was keen to visit India. So, he fixed an appointment for him with his father. He was very happy to meet Raunaq Singh and agreed to give money and machines that helped the Kanwars to establish their own factory in India.
But all was not well in the initial days of Apollo Tyres. Onkar Singh agrees that their business saw bad days. Initially the factory bore great loses.
"It was because we were manufacturing according to American specifications as a result of our collaboration. After suffering so many loses our company was at the verge of collapse. Then, I asked my father to give me the charge of the company, if everyone was willing for it. I even asked for support from my wife and children," said Onkar Singh.
He even acknowledges that his wife is instrumental in his success.
With full determination, Singh is carrying forward the family business setting high standards for others to follow.
"We were prepared for everything right from the beginning, as we had already faced a lot of problems. Today, we have reached a level where we are a world-class company in competition with world leaders in the industry," said the CMD of Apollo Tyres.
Singh says that their employees are given a lot of importance in the organisation as it leads to greater efficiency in work. In fact they are treated as assets and they work with great team spirit. The Apollo Tyre Company believes in the concept of 'WE' as opposed to 'I'" reveals Kanwar.
Cherishing the true Punjabi within him he said: "Punjabis are very aggressive and enterprising people. It's our exclusive trait that we want to do everything in a different way."
"If you want something, the entire Universe conspires to help you achieve it." This is a line from Paulo Coelho's fiction "Alchemist". True to these words is the success story of Apollo Tyres, owned by the Kanwars. y Vibha Dham