Amongst the business related entries in the book of world records (including the Guinness Book), is the name of Hero Honda. This is an Indian company that manufactures the largest number of two-wheelers in the world. The Hero Honda motorcycle is a common sight in many countries in the world. This honour to our country has been created by the great visionary and promoter of the Hero Honda Company Dr. Brijmohan Lall Munjal.
He started this company from almost nothing and built it into a massive automobile giant through sheer perseverance and self-belief. Brijmohan was born in 1923, in Kamalia, which is today a Part of Pakistan. From a young age, Brijmohan was keen to study. He had a yearning to further his knowledge. Unlike his father and grandfather who did not have the means to study, he wanted to gain knowledge and use it to make a mark in his life. When he was just six years old, he went to a well-known Gurukul school, one that teaches various subjects with a foundation of Indian values, to gain admission.
The Principal was impressed with young Brijmohan's resolve, and agreed to admit him into his school. This was a significant achievement for Brijmohan. He made the best of it. He was enthralled with subjects revolving around finance and economics. This proved to be a sound foundation for Brijmohan's tremendous career and entrepreneurship. After his education, Brijmohan's family moved to India. They were forced to do so because of the partition that was created between India and Pakistan in 1947.
They moved to Ludhiana (in Punjab), where Brijmohan and his brothers wanted to start their own business. They set up a small unit manufacturing bicycle components. The business grew as the brothers put in tremendous hard work. Eventually they set up a factory to manufacture bicycles calling it the Hero Cycles. The idea and motivation to manufacture bicycles came from Brijmohan. He was keen to create a mode of transport that was affordable by all classes of people.
Apart from the business motive, he also wanted the multitude of Indians affected by partition to be able to purchase a vehicle that was durable and at the same time affordable. This ideology has been a guiding force to the Hero Honda group to this day, one which has taken it to insurmountable heights. Slowly but steadily, the company grew, eventually they moved into the manufacture of motorized vehicles, which were beginning to become popular in the Indian roads.
Brijmohan wanted to ensure that there was no compromise on quality, and the Indian consumer would get complete value for money. Therefore he entered into a joint venture with the Japanese two-wheeler giant, the Honda Motor Company. Thus, the company called Hero Honda Motors Ltd was born. This Joint Venture was a runaway success from the beginning for two reasons. Firstly, the products launched were state of the art, with value for money for the buyer. Secondly, Brijmohan ensured that the partnership reached no roadblocks, and went on smoothly for a long time.
Brijmohan was a true visionary. The Hero Honda CD 100 model was one of the first Indian bikes to have a four-stroke engine (which has low emission and high fuel efficiency). Most other motorcycle manufacturers went in for the two stroke engine. They eventually had to abandon these when the government passed stringent laws on banning two-stroke engines, as they were highly pollutant. Brijmohan's vision paid off and his company grew at a rapid Pace. Today, Hero Honda is a highly profitable company with revenues in excess of US$2 Billion. Hero Honda’s products are exported to more than a dozen countries.
As the company's fortunes grew, so did Brijmohan's accolades. He was awarded “Business Leader of the Year” by Business Baron in 1998, "Entrepreneur of Year" by Business Standard in 2002, "Entrepreneur of the Year" by Ernst & Young in 2001. His greatest tribute carne when Brijmohan was honoured with the prestigious Padma Bhushan. It was a true testimony of his vision and leadership. He was also conferred a Doctorate (D Litt-Honoris Causa) by the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. It is one of the most prestigious Universities of India.
Brijmohan is also the country's highest paid executive, his earnings being in excess of Rs.11 Crores in 2003-2004. In spite of all this, Brijmohan regards human values more than anything else. He attends family functions of his employees, maintains a good relationship with his joint venture partners, and continues to create shareholder value for his company. He attributes his success to the hard work and determination of his family members and employees and the blessings of God.