- Late Dr. Brijmohan Lall Munjal (1st July 1923 to 1st November 2015)
The founder and patriarch of the Hero Group was your classic first generation entrepreneur. He was a man who started small, dreamt big and used a combination of grit and perseverance to create one of the country's largest corporate groups and the World's No.1 Two Wheeler Company.
Instinctive from a young age, Brijmohan Lall made a rather unusual start in life. Around the time when the freedom movement in India was taking shape in the late 1920s, he walked into a newly opened Gurukul (Indian heritage school) near his home in Kamalia (now in Pakistan). He was only six years old then.
Thus began an extraordinary tale of courage and perseverance. Brijmohan began his business story after partition in 1947, when he and his brothers relocated to Ludhiana. The family set up a company that provided poor people with basic transport (cycles). Three decades later, as India evolved, he added a second crucial chapter - which visualized affordable and technologically superior transport to millions of middle class Indians. The rest is history.
When Brijmohan and his brothers started out, there was no concept of organized dealer networks. Companies just produced, and most dealers functioned like traders. Brijmohan changed the rules of the business by trusting his gut instincts; introducing business norms that were ahead of their time, and by investing in strategic relationships. Brijmohan built a series of bonds and networks with hundreds of family members, vendors, dealers and employees. Much like the Japanese keiretsu system, these networks are now the glue that holds the Hero Group together.
"Thanks to the relationships that we have nurtured so passionately in the Hero Family, the younger generations of some of our bicycle dealers have become dealers of Hero MotoCorp. These relationships have survived through generations - through bad times and good times" the patriarch now reminiscences.
Besides bonding with his vendors and dealers, Brijmohan was personally responsible for kindling a spirit of entrepreneurship amongst his employees, and today, 40 of his former employees are successful entrepreneurs.
Though not technically qualified in the conventional sense, only a few of his contemporaries have understood the dynamics of technology better than Brijmohan Lall had. He could always visualize the applicability of technology before others could. For example, in the 1980s, when all two-wheeler companies in India opted for two-stroke engine technology, Brijmohan preferred a four-stroke engine - a technology that dramatically increased fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance costs. This technology was one of the biggest reasons for Hero MotoCorp's stupendous success.
A frugal upbringing and a value system modeled on the famous Gurukul system - which stresses the sanctity of the teacher-pupil relationship - imbibed in Brijmohan a strong sense of social commitment and responsibility.
There was a special place in his heart for Ludhiana, the city where he took roots. Today, Ludhiana is a modern, bustling city, but Brijmohan had played no mean role in its evolution. Several schools and educational institutions in Ludhiana owe their existence to the Munjal family.
The Ludhiana Stock Exchange owes its existence to Brijmohan's vision as does the Ludhiana Flying Club. He's also set up the not-for-profit Dayanand Medical College and Hospital-an institute now rated as one of the best medical colleges in India, in terms of infrastructure, quality of staff and alumni profile.
In and around Dharuhera, near the first Hero MotoCorp plant, Brijmohan and his family have left their stamp of philanthropy. The Raman Kant Munjal Foundation - which Brijmohan set up in memory of his eldest son, today runs a higher secondary school and a very modern and well-equipped 100-bed hospital at Dharuhera. The group has also adopted numerous villages and provides education, vocational training, drinking water, roads, streetlights and sewerage.