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Genlite Saga

Posted in Uncategorized by K P Ramachandran on September 6, 2019

The Saga of Genlite is synonymous with the business life of K P Ramachandran (KPR)

The 80s – Formation and consolidation.

The seed of inception of GENLITE started when KPR resigned from his esteemed Bank Manager’s position at a renowned private Bank on the 31st of March 1983. He was joined by a colleague MJ Tommy and jointly they became the Directors of Genlite Private Ltd (GPL), a private limited company, registered in Calcutta with Calcutta ROC during Sep 1982. The company made a strategic decision to expand its business into South India and opened its Chennai office (Corporate Office) in April 1983. KPR took over as MD of the company and managed entire operations at the Chennai Head office at 126, Thambu chetty Street in Georgetown area. Shortly thereafter in Jun 1983, another branch of GPL was opened in Coimbatore with MJ Tommy managing as its head. In May 1983, KPR’s brother K P Unnikrishnan (KPU) joined the company as a Management executive and in Feb 1984 when the Bangalore Branch was opened, KPU took over as the head of Karnataka operations. During FY’85, factory activities were started on leased premises at Mount Road, Saidapet in Chennai and simultaneously on rented premises at Bommanahalli in Bangalore. In Jan 1986, the Kochi branch was opened and then General Manager, V Ramachandran (VR), took over as Head of Kerala operations. On 1st April 1986 the corporate head office was shifted to more spacious premises on the ground floor of 19, Mooker Nallamuthu Street in Chennai.

During 1988 the Directors of GPL mutually decided to separate and start their own activities. KPR started Genlite Diesels, (GD) a proprietary concern – the parent organization of present Genlite Group. Mr. Tommy started Genlite Sales and Service (GSS). Both organizations agreed to work as separate entities, but as associate concerns. The other directors of GPL continued with activities mainly based out of Calcutta.

Thereafter, in the same year, Genlite Diesels purchased its own factory premises at B2, SIDCO Industrial estate and shifted factory activities to the newly acquired premises. After this reorganization, GD took over all the businesses of GPL at Chennai, Bangalore and Kochi. All staff members of erstwhile GPL were confirmed as permanent employees of GD effective from 1st Jan 1990. On 29th Jan 1990 a new company, Genlite Generators Pvt Ltd. (GGPL), was incorporated. That was promoted by KPR and Mrs. Valsala Ramachandran. Mr. K.Suresh from Vijayawada and KPU also joined as Directors in GGPL. Mr. Suresh focused on managing the business in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The factory activities were shifted to Pondicherry in the name of GGPL during 1990. During this period, Genlite had a network of 12 dealers operating in over four southern states.

The 90s – Period of Liberalization/Globalization

Under the able leadership of KPR, Genlite went on to become the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for big brands such as Kirloskar Oil Engines Limited (KOEL), Ashok Leyland and Caterpillar. All the principal companies rendered their full support to the company and Genlite soon became the best Genset OEM (GOEM) for KOEL, Leyland and Caterpillar engine-powered Gensets.

The goodwill generated by the Genlite group of companies in the South has built its own trademark of professionalism and quality. During April 1990 Genlite started factory activities in Kerala. And during FY’91, the factory at Pondicherry was shifted to new premises with advanced facilities. From 1993 onwards, Genlite also started exclusive annual corporate meets (called ‘Sangamam’) that were basically family get-together involving the Principal (KOEL), Dealers and the Genlite team. The very first Sangamam was at Kochi – in Bolgatti Island in Jan 1993. These Sangamams continued as an annual affair thereafter, wherein the entire Genlite ‘family’ got the opportunity to unwind and rejoice.

In July 1993, the untimely demise of Mr. Tommy (31/07) lead to the staff of Coimbatore region joining GGPL. Mr. Tommy’s son, Joe Tommy, took over as senior manager to manage the Coimbatore region. During November 1993, K P Gopinathan (KPG) brother of KPR joined as an Executive Director in GGPL and took charge of Pondicherry works. Then in 1997 (15th Dec), a new partnership firm was incorporated (Genlite Engineering) with KPR as the managing partner and both his daughters (Maya and Hema) as the other partners.

In the union budget of 1991 when the union cabinet opened up the economy, many global players started establishing their presence in India. By end of the 90s, engine manufacturers started to adopt a system of polarization and started asking GOEMs to opt for brand exclusivity. By 2000, Genlite had opted to stay with the Kirloskar group and became a leading GOEM for KOEL in the South. In order to closely service customers in the south of Tamilnadu, the Madurai Branch was opened in May 2000.


The first decade of the new millennium saw a major transition in the Gensets business. At this point, KOEL wanted exclusivity from its partners and wanted Genlite to operate only in Tamilnadu, Pondicherry and Kerala. Accordingly, operations were withdrawn from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Correspondingly KPU and Suresh resigned from GGPL. During 2005 the Ministry of Environment, Government of India brought out a new regulation for Diesel Generators that restricted the noise level limits of Generators to 75db(at a distance of one meter from the generator).This regulation forced all DG sellers to start making acoustic enclosures to reduce the engine noise to within 75db. Since the manufacturing of acoustic enclosures in large numbers required the use of CNC controlled punch machine and folding machine in addition to other sophisticated welding and painting equipment; continuing this business meant that the Gensets equipment assemblers would have to make huge investments in order to become full-fledged manufacturers. While the investment for Gensets assembly was approx. 15 to 20 lakhs, manufacturing of DG sets with acoustic enclosure needed approx. 10 to 15 crores of investment. Anticipating a good business opportunity, Genlite invested around 10 crores in 2005 to establish a factory at F63, SIPCOT Industrial Estate at Irungattukottai, Chennai with the requisite CNC machines to manufacture acoustic enclosures for generators, in technical collaboration with the Kirloskar group. During this time, the company decided to shift its corporate office to a more central area in Chennai. On 31st August 2005, the corporate office opened at 42, Sterling road in Nungambakkam. The newly equipped factory started its production on 4th January 2006. In order to increase the sales and market share, Genlite appointed around 20 dealers in their territory. And on 25th Jan 2007, Genlite Engineering was converted into a Private limited company, Genlite Engineering Pvt. Ltd. (GEPL) with KPR, Maya, Hema, KP Gopinathan and Valsala Ramachandran as its directors. While KPR managed the total management of the company as MD, Maya took charge of HR and Administration. Hema took control of marketing functions. KPG took charge of manufacturing. Hereafter the entire business and activities of Genlite group centered at GEPL.  During this period the company formed three Zones at Chennai, Coimbatore, Down South and entrusted the management respectively to G.Sam, Joe Tommy and K K Jayakumar General Managers and Kerala Zone continued with VR as its head. In July of the same year, Genlite opened its factory at Puthencruz to facilitate the sales in Kerala. In the Gensets industry, Genlite became the market leader in Kerala and Tamilnadu and Genlite is Genset for many people in these zones.

And in May 2009, the Trivandrum branch was opened to cater to the business in southern Kerala which was brought under Down South Zone.. And as the overall sales increased, Genlite acquired additional factory space at F83 in SIPCOT Industrial estate to augment production (25th Feb 2013). Meanwhile, the corporate office was shifted to a more spacious place at 57, Officers Colony, Mehta nagar in 2014 (1st August). As Hema wanted to pursue higher studies overseas she left Genlite activities during FY17. Subsequently, she relinquished the Directorship. Accordingly the marketing functions were assigned to respective Zonal heads.

During this period Koel wanted to give more thrust on the higher HP segment (200 KVA and above). Genlite developed an exclusive HHP team for all Zones and selected experienced personnel to handle this business. Mr.Pramod Kumar, General Manager, was appointed to head this segment. Genlite was the first among all the GOEMs to take this step. From FY’17 onwards, Genlite’s HHP sales have grown by leaps and bounds. Understanding the capability and competence of Genlite’s team, KOEL annexed the state of Telengana also to Genlite, effective from FY’18. A branch was opened at Hyderabad on 3rd Dec 2017 to manage the sales in Telengana. And in order to have a better control of management activities, the directors of Genlite decided to form a top management committee comprising of all working Directors, Zonal heads, HHP head and CFO in Dec 2017. This committee was asked to conduct meetings (either in person or via digital means such as Skype, teleconference, etc.) once every 45 days to discuss and decide on marketing, production, human resources and finance/accounting matters. The committee was empowered to take policy decisions on these matters in these meetings and to minute them.

During these three decades Genlite got many reputed customers like Railways, APSRTC, NTPC, IOCL, BPCL , HPCL, IBP, SBI, AIR and DD, CPWD, BSNL, KINFRA, Tuticorin Port Trust, NPCL, CMC; private companies like Tata, L&T, Nestle, Ramalinga group of Cotton Mills; telecom companies like Airtel, Idea, Vodafone; various colleges and educational institutions like the Jeppiar Group and many leading corporate customers like ESAF Bank, Equitas Bank, Flipkart, Curefoods, BITS, Kalyan Jewellers, and the Hatsun group.

A look at the numbers will show that while Genlite was manufacturing and selling around 2158 gensets (worth 108 crores approx.) in FY’09; Genlite has produced and sold 5841 Gensets in FY’19 achieving a turnover of 256 crores and also becoming the No.1 GOEM in India for selling the maximum number of DG sets. Genlite has got the maximum number of dealers (27 dealers) covering over four states and has also conducted 22 Sangamams over the years in various destinations both in India and abroad.

(Genlite is a registered trade mark of the group of Genlite concerns owned by KPR)




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