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Pumping up success

G. Rajendran, MD of CRI Pumps talks about his growth as an entrepreneur and the future of the engineering goods industry in the city.


HE WAS initiated into the business at a rather difficult time. With the grief of his father's death still fresh, G. Rajendran was made part of the family's valve and pump manufacturing business. Thanks to the support of his experienced elder brother Velumani, he was able to learn the ropes and set his foot firmly in the trade.

Two decades later, CRI Pumps, of which he is Managing Director, has won the Rajiv Gandhi National Quality Award from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Civil Supplies. "My father had been in the business for a long time and so I was naturally interested in this field. After I joined the company, I was made in-charge of the company's fledgling pump manufacturing business. Now, that is bringing us laurels," he says.

CRI is now synonymous with pumps and accessories.

The brothers run the group, which also owns a foundry unit. "Ours is a joint family and the valve and foundry business is being taken care of by my brothers," he says. The first major recognition for Mr. Rajendran's entrepreneurial skills came in 1992 when the Commerce Ministry conferred the `Udyog Patra' award on him for being the "Best Self-made Industrialist."

How does he feel after having won so many accolades? "It is a recognition of our quality. The credit goes to the employees."



REWARD FOR QUALITY: Rajendran and his mother Sarojini receiving the award from Union Minister Sharad Yadav

He has now expanded the business by establishing a subsidiary in South Africa. "For the last two years we have been concentrating on exports and to promote it in the Southern African region, we started a subsidiary in Johannesburg," Mr. Rajendran adds.

He states that his company was able to buck the recession and post growth as it focussed on customer requirements. "We have more than 700 types of pumps for both agriculture and domestic applications, which conform to international standards."

Despite these successes, the group has no plans to diversify into new businesses. "We know that our strength lies in our core business. We will plough back our profits only into this business," he says.

Mr. Rajendran, also President of the Southern India Engineering Manufacturers' Association (SIEMA), believes there is a bright future for the engineering goods sector in Coimbatore, if there is a level playing field. "We can definitely face competition from international brands in the domestic market, but only if the government reduces duties."

So, how did Coimbatore become a national leader in pump manufacturing? "The first pump was made here and since then we haven't looked back. Today, we account for more than 40 per cent of the pumps manufactured in India," he points out. He also says Coimbatore has a lot to offer in terms of entrepreneurship. "Entrepreneurial skills have improved a lot. Exports have also grown and private enterprises are attuned to competition."

M. ALLIRAJAN

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