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November 29, 2013

Rajiv Bajaj, The Maverick Scion

From the Business Today cover story profile of the Bajaj Auto Managing Director in the context of Bajaj Auto's plans to launch a controversial Quadricyle:

The company had already proved itself to be an outlier by not taking on an equity partner who would feed it technology. Each of its rivals had one. Hero and Kinetic had Honda, TVS had Suzuki, Escorts had Yamaha and LML had Piaggio. Bajaj had Kawasaki, but only as a technology supplier, with no equity. "Not having an equity partner that provided the technology, such as Honda for Hero, gave us the opportunity to learn. What we got was technical drawings from Kawasaki. The process, the why and the how, and the manufacturing were not transferred completely from Kawasaki. We made mistakes, but we learned," says Joe.... By the turn of the century, Bajaj began to become self-reliant in technology. The last motorcycle it built with Kawasaki's technology was the Eliminator in 1999.

...The well wishers of Indian manufacturing groaned in unison when a strike broke out on June 25 at Bajaj Auto's Chakan plant, near Pune. It would only make the slowdown worse. But they had not reckoned with Rajiv Bajaj.

...After 40 days, Bajaj took the unusual step of giving the workers a week to end the strike. Else, he would shift most of the production out of Chakan to his other plants in Aurangabad and Pant Nagar. The strike ended a day after the deadline. Union leaders tried to save face with the pretexts of the slowdown and the festival season.

"The strike was withdrawn unconditionally. After a few days of the strike, we managed to produce about 1,900 Pulsars at Chakan and 1,200 to 1,300 in Aurangabad. So there was no real loss in retail," says S. Ravikumar, Head of Business Development. "I think everyone has understood that when Rajiv says something, there is a high probability he would go ahead and do it."
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