Tuesday, 12 May 2015

How does an American pronounce Pallagoundenpalayam ?

The most unlikely of bedfellows can come together in the business world. Consider this rather unusual "marriage".

The bride is the city of Detroit. We shouldn't be uncharitable to a bride, but the immediate words that come to mind when you mention Detroit are decay, dilapidated, joblessness,  decline, etc etc. Can any good news come out of Detroit these days ?

The groom is Sakthi Group. Sakthi who ? - even my Indian readers are entitled to ask. It's an unknown, small conglomerate from the South of India. They were essentially a sugar company, but have dipped their fingers into a bewildering array of businesses. They are still small by global standards - some $2 bn in size. One of their businesses is Automotive Components - a business in which Indian companies have excelled and are starting to lead the world. 

Sakthi announced a $ 31 m investment in a manufacturing facility in Detroit to make aluminium castings. GM and Ford are big customers for them and their logic for this investment is being close to customers.  Of course they have milked the incentives and subsidies - some $4 m.  But Sakthi has played the PR angle perfectly. The castings will substitute imports from China. The facility will create 650 jobs over 2 years. They have committed to hire at least 2 ex felons a month ( both a brilliant and a movingly human move). And the site they are developing is a historic school, now closed and left in ruins. Can there be a better feel good story ?

The sight of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, waving a casting, as he welcomed Sakthi makes interesting viewing. And the Sakthi's chairman calling the marriage a Catholic marriage (meaning,  for the long term), is equally interesting Whether Sakthi will succeed in the most challenging location of all in the US remains to be seen. But you have to give it full marks for daring and boldness. It may fall flat on its face. But it will still have been an interesting experiment.

Meanwhile the American employees have to learn to pronounce Mukasi Pallagoundenpalayam ! That's where Sakthi's auto component headquarters is located in India. Even my good friend Sriram is going to struggle with that !


Sriram Khé said...

I was in the middle of my comments, which included funny lines that Gils would have appreciated--you know, in Thanglish--when I accidentally moved the mouse and clicked on cancel! So, I shall spare you all of my humor ;)

Thanks to my political junkie life in India and the years in Coimbatore, I had always associated Sakthi Group with Pollachi Mahalingam. "Mukasi Pallagoundenpalayam" threw me off, and I actually googled for it!!!

Am guessing that the American counterparts will only refer to the "Coimbatore-based" Indian company, and not to Mukasi Pallagoundenpalayam.

Triggered by your post, I read more about this ... am surprised to know that Sakthi has been in Detroit for a couple of years now and your post is about their expansion plan. ( http://on.freep.com/1HdVJAM) That column also notes "[Manickam ] Mahalingam earned an MBA degree at University of Michigan"--so, there is a local connection as well.

It was rather interesting to read there "In addition to heading Sakthi's auto components group he also heads several engineering and technical colleges in India" ... After living here in the US for so long, I find it strange that one person could be heading several engineering and technical colleges ...

gils said...

sriram sir..ithelaam oru matteray illa..chk out VEL's group list of colleges and institutions they own..thala suthi muthugu theriyum!!! pallagounden palayam..hehehe...appraisal meetingla company headquarters pera typo illama type panannumnu KRA set pannita podhum..oru payaluku salary kedaikkathu...

gils said...

someone should try to implement the concept of kaayalaan kadai and vethala paaku kadai in US...piccchhhikkkittu pogum

Ramesh said...

I am quite impressed that you knew about the Group and Mahalingam. I had only associated them with a sugar mill and had no idea they had dipped their fingers into every conceivable business until I read the Detroit article and started reading about the Group.

Yes, they have been in Detroit for two years or so and now expanding. They also are in Portugal after an acquisition. Seems like Mahalingam took his MBA classes too seriously !!

Ramesh said...

You think so ? Well the mom and pop store is their equivalent of the vethala paaku kadai and its been under steady decline under the assault of Walmart & Co. Kaayalan Kadai is a good idea; I suspect our good friend and the other commenter thus far will actually google the term to find out what it meant :):):)

Sriram Khé said...

yo ramesh, nee indha maathiri pesinaa, un kitta doo vitruven. kaayalaan kadai theriyatha thamizh aalu unda? ennayaa nee! chadrababu oru pazhaya padaththila dialog vitta maathiri, un nenjula irukkira maanja soththa eduthiruven ;)
gilsu, thalaiyoda thalaila rendu kodu pa ;)

VEL's group I had no idea ... so, googled it. are you referring to these people: http://www.veltechuniv.edu.in/ ?
Looks like higher education has also become a highly profitable venture in India ... But, is there enough attention to the quality of the output--the graduates--or is it a scheme only to churn out more people with paper diplomas?

gils said...

rotfl :D:D:D Khe sir....Khezhe Khezhe nu Khezhechitaar :D:D paal oothi vacha vengala paana pongi vara mathiri apdi oru veeraavesa pongal :D:D thalaya machidungo..

vel group mattumilla..google for jeppiar and his coterie...education is semma thuddu..apdiye enrollment aagalanalum..that real estate worth alone runs into billions...quality of education- kadavullukay velicham..

Sandhya Sriram said...

Ramesh, considering your big non Tamil following, I comment in English ;) despite being quite tempted to go in Tamil

This is awesome stuff. In a totally industry unfriendly state like Tamilnadu with pathetic electricity, lack of water and lazy labor thanks to vote bank esops, it is just so credible to hold feet and create a profitable business model and look at this - wow. Thanks for sharing this

Ramesh said...

Interesting comparison to make - Michigan vs Tamil Nadu in terms of being a manufacturing location. Tamil Nadu may win, but only just. Says volumes about how we are squadering a golden opportunity.

Anne in Salem said...

I just read an article about the rebirth of Detroit, specifically about neighborhoods rather than business. But the neighborhoods will not rebound without jobs, so this is a very good thing.

You comment about playing the PR angle perfectly. The company missed one group in their promises to hire - veterans. Pledging to hire a certain number or percentage of vets would complete the PR coup.

Ramesh said...

Yes, playing the vet card would have been great PR - and I wonder why other US companies don't play it as much. However a foreigner's, and a foreign company's, view of the US soldier is not so saintly. Depending on the part of the world, it can range from benign indifference to outright hatred.

Anne in Salem said...

Never thought of that. Interesting point. I can envision a severe lack of trust, which is bad for employment.

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