At a meeting at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) held on August 31, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa,

Sanjay Kirloskar and Shirley Roeloffze

 Shirley Roeloffze (Free Your Thought) asked Sanjay Kirloskar, Chairman and Managing Director of Kirloskar Brothers Limited, what mindsets and attitudes had contributed most to the success of the family business.

Established in 1888 and incorporated in 1920, Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) is the flagship company of the $1.6 billion Kirloskar group.  The core businesses of KBL are large infrastructure projects (Water Supply, Power Plants, and Irrigation), Project and Engineered Pumps, Industrial Pumps, Agriculture and Domestic Pumps, Valves and Hydro turbines.

KBL Sales in 2009-2010 exceeded US $ 590 Million with a market capitalization of more than US $650 million.

KBL is India’s largest manufacturer and exporter of pumps and also the largest infrastructure pumping project contractor in Asia. To its credit KBL has created the world’s largest pumping scheme which will irrigate more than two million hectares of land and supply water to 4620 towns and villages in the state of Gujarat in India (Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Scheme). KBL also commissioned a water pumping scheme called The Devadula Scheme in Warangal, a town in Andhra Pradesh, with the world’s second highest head, supplying water to four drought prone socio-economically backward districts which will bring about a green revolution there.

Shirley Roeloffze: One’s mindset and opinions and attitudes drive all one’s decisions and relationships. What mindsets or attitudes would you say have contributed most to your family’s business success?

Sanjay Kirloskar:

From the time of my great grandfather, Laxmanrao Kirloskar, who founded Kirloskar Brothers in 1888, and my grandfather, SL Kirloskar, who extended our small business into a huge world-wide organisation, we have believed that one should be true to oneself. Whatever we said or did was credible and honest, and we lived up to our promises.  In those early days, even more than now, your spoken promise was worth more than anything in writing.

We have expressed this mindset by creating domestic and industrial pumps and valves and pumping systems with a reputation for being reliable and dependable and lasting for an unusually long time, because our attitude has been that our customers cannot afford to invest in a pump more than once.

Since 2005 we have had an official Code of Conduct which requires all executives and managers to “act in utmost good faith and in accordance with highest standards of personal and professional integrity, honesty and ethical conduct in respect of all transactions.”

In addition, our mindset has been to do what we do best, and to see where we can make money. In applying this approach, we have not imposed our perceptions and ideas on our potential customers, but have rather tried to find out what they need, and to do business the way they like to do it. This has been a very successful approach for us.

We have also been prepared to be innovative and creative in facing new challenges and in 2009 gained three awards for “Innovative Projects.”

Our logo is “Enriching Lives.” We believe that we are achieving this whenever our pumps bring a reliable water supply to poor and under-developed communities.

Shirley Roeloffze: Thank you very much for sharing some keys to your tremendous success!

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