India’s Business Hero, Brijmohan Lall Munjal, Dies At 92 – Amazing story of how Munjal built Hero Honda

Brijmohan Lall Munjal, chairman emeritus of Bombay Stock Exchange-listed Hero MotoCorp, maker of the popular Hero range of motorcycles and scooters, died Sunday after a brief illness. He was 92. His close to 35% stake in Hero, which he shared with his children, earned him a spot among India’s richest. In October, the patriarch featured at Number 27 on Forbes Asia’s India Rich List with a family fortune of $3 billion.

Hero’s colossal journey started before independence. The four Munjal brothers, hailing from a small town called Kamalia, now in Pakistan, are the men who are behind the mission. Brotherhood apart, what knit the men together was the wealth of will, integrity, ambition & determination. In the year 1944, they decided to start a business of bicycle spare parts in Amritsar. Its is modest beginning and the next 3 years saw the business grow rapidly. But the dark clouds of partition eclipsed their plans of the future. With renewed vigour and optimism, the operational base was shifted to Ludhiana. By 1956, the brothers had began manufacturing key components of bicycles and as a logical way forward, began to assemble the entire cycle at their manufacturing plant in Ludhiana. In the early days, the plant had a capacity for 25 cycles per day. Over the next few years, the Bicycle Unit started growing in stature and size, attracting skilled engineers, technocrats, administrators and entrepreneurs. From a modest beginning of mere 639 bicycles in the year 1956, Hero Cycles produces over 18,500 cycles a day, the highest in global reckoning. With the 48% share of the Indian market, this volume has catapulted Hero in the ‘Guinness Books of World Records’ in 1986. Since then Hero Cycles has been able to maintain its leadership in the cycle manufacturing industry.

Munjals approached a French two-wheeler giant Peugeot for a tie-up, but in spite of drawing initial interest, the dream ticket eluded the Munjals. The talks broke down and Hero went on to make its own mopeds modeled on the Peugeot machine but designed in India and it was called Majestic Auto.

By 1983, Majestic Auto had captured almost 35% of the Indian moped market.

Hero Honda Motors
The Hero Group emerged a bigger, bolder player in the world of two-wheelers in the early 80s. The first mega milestone of the decade was the decision to join hands with the Japanese automobile giant, Honda. And thus Hero Honda was born. Overnight, it redefined the rules of the game in the two-wheeler industry.

Two-wheelers in India were then synonymous with scooters and the scooter market was the monopoly of a lone player — Bajaj Auto Limited. At a time, when scooters had a waiting period of 12 years or even longer, Hero’s tie-up with Honda changed it all. Although, it was Munjal’s long cherished desire to produce scooters, destiny had other plans.

Hero Honda Motors Ltd. is a result of the joint venture between India’s Hero Group and Japanese Honda Motors Company in the year 1983.Hero Honda had set up its first assembly line in Dharuhera, Haryana. The Munjals had for the first time, set foot outside Ludhiana to build a manufacturing facility. Thus, the first 100 cc Hero Honda motorcycle came off the assembly line in April 1985 and with it Hero Honda kick started its journey to unimaginable success- Fill it, shut it, forget it. Slick and unforgettable slogans for a never before kind of launch and a new icon in the two-wheeler industry was born. This joint venture has not only created the world’s single largest two wheeler company but also one of the most successful joint ventures worldwide. Hero Honda is globally known of being the most fuel-efficient and the largest CBZ selling Indian motorcycle company.This is a relationship so harmonious that Hero Honda has managed to achieve indigenisation of over 95 percent, a Honda record worldwide.

The below chart shows the golden years in the history of HERO HONDA :-

1985 CD-100
1989 SLEEK
1991 CD-100 SS
1994 Spelendor
1997 Street
1999 CBZ
2001 PASSION
2002 DAWN, AMBITION
2003 CD-DAWN, SPLENDOR +, PASSION +, KARIZMA
2005 SUPER-SPLENDOR, CD-DELUX, GLAMOUR, ACHIEVER

The company is committed to provide the customer with excellence. A rich background of producing high value products at reasonable prices led the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles to collaborate with the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer. During 80s, Hero Honda became the first company in India to prove that it was possible to drive a vehicle without polluting the roads. They company possess three manufacturing units based at Dharuhera, Gurgaon and Haridwar are capable to produce 4.4 million units per year. They introduced new generation motorcycles that set industry benchmarks for fuel thrift and low emission.

The unique features like fuel conservation, safety riding courses and mobile workshops helped the group reach in the interiors of the country. Well-entrenched in the domestic market, Hero Honda Motors Ltd. turned its attention overseas, and exports have been steadily on the rise.

With the widespread network of 5,000 dealers across the country, the Hero Group today is a conglomerate with an annual turnover of Rs 10,000 crore. Highs and lows, rewards and backlashes have all been a part of the Hero Group’s corporate story, but downfalls didn’t discourage them, nor did losses kill their spirit of entrepreneurship.Over the years, the Company has received its share of accolades, including the National Productivity Council’s Award ( 1990-91), and the Economic Times – Harvard Business School Association of India Award, against 200 contenders. The gross sales of Hero Honda by March end’2008 was 33,371,43 Crores.

The third generation of the Munjals are now involved in the Hero Group. Brijmohan’s two grandsons run Hero’s finance arm and a green energy venture. In a Facebook post, Amit Chandra, managing director, Bain Capital said: “He truly was Corporate India’s Hero. Was such a pleasure to know this legend who only had good things to say about everyone in every situation.” In a tribute in the Times of India newspaper, motorcycle magnate Bajaj said that “I have lost a person whom I called my Guru”.

References :
http://www.forbes.com/sites/naazneenkarmali/2015/11/01/indias-business-hero-brijmohan-lall-munjal-dies-at-92/
http://www.herocycles.com/the-begining
http://rdesigns.hpage.co.in/herohonda-history_99323890.html
http://www.rediff.com/money/2007/jun/11bspec.htm

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