This book brings to you a collection of stories of the life and times at Grindwell Norton over the last 75 years
Our 75th Anniversary Theme
Anand Mahajan on the Anniversary Theme
- lively, animated, spirited, active - sensitive, perceptive, responsive - aware, cognizant, on-the-ball
ALIVE means all of these things and GNO@75 exemplifies this. GNO is alive in every sense of the word. The organization and its people are active, energetic, innovative, spirited, perceptive, responsive and on-the-ball. They are alive to what is going on in the organization and its environment, alive to the needs of our customers, alive to opportunities and threats, alive to the exciting future that beckons us, alive to making the future happen... And that is why the theme and the logo for our 75th Anniversary is:
Anand Mahajan Managing Director
SO ALIVE to the changing needs of our customers:
We innovate to offer leading products and solutions to meet these needs
SO ALIVE to creating a flourishing work environment:
We are active, energetic and enthusiastic and do what it takes to think beyond and stay ahead
SO ALIVE to embracing our values in all that we do:
We are committed to strictly adhering to our Principles and our Code
SO ALIVE to taking care of the environment:
We are committed to build a sustainable future and embed sustainable solutions in our business strategy
SO ALIVE to creating collaborative stakeholder relationships:
We build a strong connect with our customers, our dealers, our suppliers, our shareholders and the communities in the midst of which we live and work
Our Story in Verse
The story of Grindwell Norton
Began way back in nineteen forty one When two Parsis and two Czechs Made India's first grinding wheel
In a small fishing village, known to none
We've come a long way since then And have made it to the top
But our journey to the next level Will never come to a stop
Our ability to adapt and innovate
Has made us who we are
The men and women at the heart of GNO Have together got us this far
The young and the old
And the many – always ready
It's their grit that we celebrate
For making GNO strong and steady
With the customer at the heart And values at the core
We've pushed our boundaries And shown competition the door!
Celebrating yet another milestone With a new drive
Oh yes, we are SO ALIVE
Even at 75!
But then, we've always been ALIVE Always on-the-ball
With our eyes set on an exciting future That beckons us all
Artist Impression of the Mora Factory in 1940. (This painting first appeared in the Golden Jubilee Brochure in 1991)
Panoramic view of the Mora Factory in the 50s
Our History in Brief (1941 - 2016)
Mr. F. B. Lima
Mr. E. J. Kaufmann-Kavan
Mr. Rustom D. Sidhwa
Grindwell launches its first Brand - Compass. It continues to be a major brand till date.
(Note: Carborundum is the generic name for Silicon Carbide)
Mr. Pheroze H. Sidhwa
Mr. Noshir D. Sidhva
R&D Centre set up in Bangalore to support manufacturing in areas like process optimization, improvement in furnacing technologies, etc.
Manufacture of SiC moves to a new site near Tirupati
Evolution of Logo
GNO goes Public. Following an IPO, GNO is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Since then, GNO’s market value has grown at a compounded annual
rate of 18.5%
GNO starts manufacturing Centralized Lubrication Systems in Bangalore. In 1993, Lincoln Helios (India) Ltd. is formed as a JV between GNO and Lincoln GmbH
Mr. Noshir D. Sidhva
GNO commissions High Performance Refractories (HPR) plant at Bangalore
Managing Directors of GNO
Mr. Hoshang C. Patel
Mr. Anand Mahajan
GNO sets up a Non-woven Abrasives plant and pioneers its production in India
Super Abrasives plant set up for manufacturing Diamond and cBN Grinding Wheels
GNO becomes the first majority-owned subsidiary of Saint-Gobain in India. Earlier in 1990, Compagnie de Saint-Gobain had acquired Norton Co., USA, and thus became a stakeholder in GNO
GNO’s Head Office moves from the heritage Army & Navy Building to a new owned office at the Leela Business Park, Mumbai (near the International Airport)
GNO commissions a new High Performance Refractories plant at a new site at Halol in Gujarat
GNO commissions a new, high-tech Non-woven Abrasives plant at Bangalore
GNO commissions a new Bonded Abrasives plant at Nagpur
the No. 1 Abrasives company in India
GNO celebrates its 75th Anniversary - with the theme: SoAlive@75
Our Stories in Words and Pictures
Our Founders, Mr. P. H. Sidhwa and Mr. R. D. Sidhwa along with Mr. F. B. Lima and Mr. E. J. Kaufmann-Kavan (both from Czechoslovakia) pioneered the manufacturing of Grinding Wheels in the fishing village of Mora (near Uran) in 1941.
Mr. Noshir D. Sidhva (nephew of Mr. P. H. Sidhwa), joined Grindwell in 1942. Under the able guidance of Mr. Lima, he worked and mastered the technique of each department of the factory. When Mr. Lima left in 1957, the bulk of the work was picked up by Mr. Sidhva. Under his capable leadership, Grindwell Abrasives grew from strength to strength.
Artist impression of Bharat Tiles, Mora in 1940
The Birth of Grindwell
Across the Arabian Sea from the Gateway of India, off Bombay's southernmost island, lies Mora, a mainland fishing village where my father Pheroze Sidhwa was born, the seventh of eight poor children. His father worked in a seaside distillery making exotic liquors from oranges, rose petals and mahua flowers, closed by the British when they started their own distillery in Nasik. That is where the main Grindwell factory now stands.
My father and his lifelong partner Rustom Sidhwa, son of his eldest brother but only three years younger, were mentored by Karachi's three-time mayor Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta, an ascetic Gandhian bachelor, to make India self-reliant by starting industries there. They founded Bharat Tiles there in 1922, taking beach sand from across the road and getting cement by country boats from Porbandar. Their modular carpet-pattern tiles, in a riot of colours and designs, were to replace the Italian ceramic mini-tiles in different geometric shapes that were imported to make Minton and other floorings.
Holiday weekends at Mora are my happiest childhood memories, with the constant smell of wet cement and of high-tide waves lapping at the road below our first-floor dormitory hall above the factory, with bedside twin windows down to ground level.
When Britain joined World War II and Germany controlled the Arabian Sea, they requisitioned all cement in India for defense use. All civil construction activity came to a standstill, as did Bharat Tiles' cement tile manufacture. A visiting salesman, John Kaufmann from Czechoslovakia's Carborundum Benatky factory, learnt of this when he came to sell floor-polishing abrasive blocks to Bharat, then in deep distress. He was a Jew, unable to return to his country overrun overnight by Germany. He suggested that Pheroze and Rustom bring over his Jewish production manager F.B.Lima, similarly stranded in Australia, and together they would help Bharat produce abrasives that the British, cut off from imports, would urgently need for their war effort. Unable to pay them any salary, which they had themselves stopped taking, they offered the two Czechs monthly payment in equity upto 50% of a new company, Grindwell.
Almitra Hoshang Patel
Mr. Lima with his children Paul and Helen, 1953
Lima began by making ceramic bonds from local clays, felspar and silica. He pressed the first wheels in a cotton baling press, sun-dried them and fired them in a local brick kiln. Taken for trials to the workshop of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, the Britisher in charge grew red-faced and furious when they went for feedback, saying they were fooling him by sticking an Indian label on an imported grinding-wheel. They were delighted by this unexpected certificate of quality, which Grindwell has maintained for all these seven decades. As a child, I loved to follow Lima Uncle around the new plant, with his pet monkey on his shoulder. He adopted me to replace his own daughter of the same age, gassed to death along with her mother by the Germans.
In 1952 after I finished high school in Devlali, my father wanted me to study ceramics so as to master the making of grinding-wheel bonds for which no local experts were available. I begged to first study my favourite subjects, so did my B.Sc in chemistry and botany, while he researched good universities in the USIS library. He brought home an application form for me to sign, and that is how I ended up in MIT in 1956, its first female engineer from India. I spent two summers interning in grinding wheel factories there and returned with a Masters in ceramics in 1959. He had
financed my education through a loan from Grindwell in return for a five-year bond to work at the Mora factory, which I fulfilled despite my marriage in 1962 and a baby in 1963. Our laboratory was housed in the former two-room school of my father, still standing as the first tiny tile-roofed structure on the left as one approaches the Mora factory.
In 1970, Grindwell decided to produce its own silicon carbide. Hoshang and I had some lovely car trips looking for suitable sites with the cheapest power, close to Jog Falls where power was 2 paise a unit then. He ultimately chose Bangalore for its good educational infrastructure that would help retain top executives. A site with a hillock was selected, so that fumes from the tall furnace plant up there would disperse that much higher than the land around. A similar search for a second plant at a high location ended at a hill in Renigunta near Tirupati.
(L-R) Mr. Hoshang Patel (second left), Mr. Noshir Sidhva and Mr. T.N. Ramakrishnan (Project Manager) at the Tirupati site (circa 1978-79)
Grindwell went on to pioneer or develop many other new products like high-performance refractories, coated abrasives and microgrits and a new subsidiary, Lincoln. After Saint-Gobain acquired Norton Co., along with its holdings in Grindwell, they brought in a burst of new lines and diversifications and plant locations. So congratulations and best wishes to this ever-young 75-year-old company!
Meanwhile, the Grindwell presses, driers, beehive kilns and finishing lines hosted in Bharat demanded so much growing space that Bharat moved its tile operations to Kurla in 1958 and Grindwell took over the entire Mora factory area. Pheroze had regularly roped in available family members to help : his sister's son Burjor Banaji in Planning, and Karachi brother's son Noshir who grew from the shop floor to steer Grindwell as MD for very many years. My husband Hoshang, with Masters degrees in Chemical Engineering and Metallurgy from U of Michigan at Ann Arbor, was persuaded to join Grindwell as Project Manager in 1963 to renovate the newly available space and build a tunnel kiln.
Mrs. Almitra Hoshang Patel is the daughter of Founder- Director Mr. P.H.Sidhwa. She worked at Mora between 1959 and 1964. Her husband, Mr. Hoshang Patel joined as a Project Manager in 1963 and served GNO for many years. He was the Managing Director of the company between 1983 and 1991
Young Almitra working in the Lab in Mora, 1960
Mora plant in the early 1960s
Annual Sports Day 1957
Mr. N. D. Sidhva in action at a cricket match in the 1950s
Product price list released in 1955
A vintage product display of Grindwell Abrasives Ltd. in 1953
A sample Grinding Wheel Blotter bearing Grindwell Abrasives Branding
Farewell to Mr. & Mrs. F. B. Lima - 1957
(L-R) Mr. Noshir Sidhva, Mr. F.B.Lima along with Mr. K.B. Sharma
Mr. Noshir Sidhva (centre) along with Mr. F.B. Lima (centre) during a minister's visit
In 1941, serendipity brought together, two Parsi gentlemen, who had property but not much else and two Czech engineers, who had knowledge of abrasives and grinding, but absolutely nothing else. From these humble beginnings and in the sylvan surroundings of the fishing village of Mora, they set up India's first grinding wheel company. A company that is still going strong at 75! The company's origins explain its rather unique culture, which has some characteristics of a family-owned enterprise and some of a professionally- managed one – possibly the best of both worlds. Let me elaborate: The Parsi ownership and leadership brought ethics, fairness, humility, caring and respect for people, the importance of relationships, an entrepreneurial streak and a willingness to experiment and to try new things. At the same time, the early influence of the engineers from Europe brought a certain transparency and openness to ideas and skills from elsewhere, a technical orientation, a willingness to learn and absorb, to plan and delegate and deliver results. All these evolved into the core values of the company and led to the early adoption of modern management and HR practices. All these are part of GNO's DNA and influence its policies and day-to-day working. All these and good fortune have contributed in a significant way to GNO's success.
Over the years, I have come across or have been a part of several 'stories' that illustrate GNO's unique culture. I have shared some of these stories in various internal forums. I want to focus on one aspect of our culture: relationships and their importance. In GNO, it is common for people to forge genuine friendships and relationships that last long after a person has retired or left. Given how much time we spend together at work, perhaps, this is not surprising. Given this, it is also not surprising that we welcome back employees who have left, that many ex-employees and retired employees stay in touch or meet, that we have an army of well-wishers across the world or that some of these relationships result in benefits to GNO. Here is one example:
In the late 50s, GNO needed help to modernise its plant and techniques and found the German firm of Maschinenund- Schleifmittel werke A.G. that could provide this. This brought a young German engineer and his wife to Mora. Gunter and
Sigi Ostermeyer arrived in 1957 and worked and lived on the Mora campus for 3 years. One of their daughters was born during their stay at Mora. As the Works Manager (Technical), Gunter made a significant contribution to the development of the Mora factory and the capability of its people. They left Mora and GNO (Grindwell Abrasives as it was then called) with many happy memories. During their stay, they, too, had forged warm friendships and close relationships. One such was the relationship with Noshir Sidhva and his
Sigi and Gunter Ostermeyer, 1957
family. The families stayed in touch over the years. Gunter went on to have a successful career with Lincoln GmbH, a leading manufacturer of Centralized Lubrication Systems. In the 80s, Lincoln GmbH was represented in India by SKF Bearings India Ltd. They were not satisfied with the development of their business in India and Gunter discussed this situation with Noshir, who had retired as the MD a few years earlier, but was still an active member of the GNO Board. They soon agreed to explore whether Lincoln GmbH and GNO would be interested in jointly developing this business in India. After study, GNO replaced SKF as the representative of Lincoln in India responsible for marketing Lincoln's Centralized Lubrication Systems in India. With the support and guidance of Gunter and Noshir, the business developed well and, in 1989, the partners decided to enter into a technical collaboration and start manufacture of some critical components and assembly of the systems in GNO's Bangalore campus. As sales grew, the partners realized that the best way to take the business to the next level was to create a Joint-Venture. So it was that, in 1993, Lincoln Helios India Ltd. (a 50:50 JV) came into being. LHI soon became a very profitable small company and a leader in India. The business, at all times, was not core to GNO (and neither did it fit into Saint-Gobain's portfolio). Globally, an American Fund
had acquired Lincoln and had shown an interest in buying out GNO's equity in LHI. The timing seemed appropriate and, in 2007, GNO sold its equity in LHI at a handsome price and booked a significant profit. Of course, by the time this happened, both Gunter and Noshir had long since retired. Gunter and Sigi continued their warm relationship with Noshir's family and with GNO. They were both present for the Golden Jubilee celebration and, but for old age, would have attended the 75th Anniversary celebrations!
This is but one example of the importance of relationships and the myriad ways in which so many people have contributed to the success of GNO. Today, even as we look forward towards our centenary with confidence and optimism, it is also a time to reflect on our past and to be thankful to all the people that have brought us this far. In the words of our Golden Jubilee song:
So many people have given all they can, We salute them every woman and man!
Mr. Anand Mahajan is the Managing Director of Grindwell Norton Ltd. and the General Delegate - India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for the Saint-Gobain Group
Sigi and Gunter Ostermeyer, 2016
(R-L) Mr. N.D. Sidhva presenting the Long Service Award to Mr. Anand Mahajan and Mrs. Vera Mahajan in 1999
The minister being shown the German tunnel kiln cars
(L-R) Mrs. Aloo Sidhva, Mr. Gunter Ostermeyer and Mr. Rustom Sidhwa along with the minister
(R-L) Mr. & Mrs. Noshir Sidhva, Mr. & Mrs. Gunter Ostermeyer, Mrs. T. P. Sidhwa (second from left) along with the minister at the lunch table
Bidding adieu to the Ostermeyers
(L-R) Mr. Noshir Sidhva, Mrs. & Mr. Ostermeyer along with Mr. Tijoriwalla
Architect's sketch of the Mora Factory after the 1st modernization in the early 70s (This sketch first appeared in the Silver Jubilee brochure in 1966)
The Mora Factory in the late 60s
Silver Jubilee brochure
Silver Jubilee celebration at Jamshedpur: (L-R) Mr. Baji Kalwachia and Mr. Rustom Sidhwa, with a customer
al sports day 1966
Tug of War
Silver Jubilee celebration at Jamshedpur: (L-R) Mrs. Tehmina Sidhwa, Mr. Rustom Sidhwa along with Mrs. Aloo Baji Kalwachia (wife of Mr. Baji Kalwachia)
Annual get together at Mora
Sixty Years Of Memories...
Grindwell is 75. A tree that has been tended well and borne much fruit – for shareholders, employees and society. My memories cover 60 of those 75 years, starting with visits to the factory at the age of 5, joining Grindwell as Personnel Director in 1970 (I worked at Grindwell until 1973) and continuing for 36 years on the Board, till my resignation from the Board in 2009 at the age of 65. Part of what I recall is experiential and part of it anecdotal from my parents – Pheroze Sidhwa, the founding Chairman and my mother Tehmina Sidhwa, Director Emeritus.
Grindwell was born when Bharat Tiles & Marble, pioneers of the cement tile industry in India, had to surrender every bag of cement for defense purposes. Bharat Tiles was started in Mora, Uran, as its founders – Pheroze and Rustom Sidhwa - did not have the money to buy or rent premises in Mumbai and the factory sheds, in which their family had once distilled liquors from fruits and flowers, were lying vacant after the British took over liquor manufacture. From 1940 to 1955 Bharat Tiles and Grindwell Abrasives shared the premises, till the space could no longer accommodate them both and Bharat moved to Mumbai.
The Sidhwa Family (L-R) Mrs. Tehmina Sidhwa, Dilnavaz, Mr. Pheroze Sidhwa and Almitra
Mora was a place without infrastructure when Bharat Tiles and Grindwell were born – electricity was generated by huge diesel generators whose hum was so much a part of the environment that when electricity finally came to Mora and the generators fell silent, the staff complained that they could not sleep due to the resounding silence! There was
no long pier at Mora and we had to get into little dinghys from the launch – and sometimes onto the shoulders of fishermen when the tide had ebbed completely – to reach the shore. For transporting goods, the tiles and the grinding wheels were loaded onto sailing boats which docked at the small pier Bharat had built near the present canteen. The goods were carried to and from the factory in open sided wooden carriages pulled by a small engine – a delight for us as children, for we could jump on and off the carriages of the slow moving train. The engine was eventually moved to the playground on the hill behind the factory.
Horse drawn "tonga" carriages were the local transport in those early years. Frederick Lima, the engineer from Benatki who, along with John Kaufmann, helped Pheroze and Rustom Sidhwa start Grindwell Abrasives, had upto 17 horses at one time for riding and for the "tongas". I remember Lima as a gentle, affectionate and soft spoken man, but he must have been a tough taskmaster as he had no hesitation in putting the founder's nephew, Noshir Sidhva, to work as a press operator. Noshir told me that he had to sweep the floor around the press, like the other workers, when the day was over. His working from the bottom up had given Noshir such a thorough knowledge of the business that Mora staff dreaded his visits as Managing Director. They would spend their Friday holiday preparing answers for his possible questions on Sunday – for he worked 7 days a week. We had a small launch, the Slick Chick, nicknamed the Sick Chick because she was so often under repair, in which Noshir and his dog Chico would travel to Mora. He was a hard task master, scathing in speech but with a caring heart, and for many years he built up Grindwell, followed by my brother- in-law Hoshang Patel and then Noshir's son-in-law Anand Mahajan. Grindwell has been fortunate in having Managing Directors of great competence over the years.
Before the tunnel kiln was built, I recall a line of periodic kilns, which were named after various girls – presumably
the then factory manager's girlfriends! Apart from baking the grinding wheels these kilns were once the recipient of the stolen clothes of a visiting cricket team – brought to the factory by panicky workers from the fishermen's colony, who used to go out in their boats to the ships docked in the sea to smuggle in contraband watches and tape recorders. The police turned a blind eye to this brazen racket, until the visiting cricket team's clothes were stolen!
I did my MBA in the first batch of IIMA – being one of the first two women MBAs to pass out in 1966. It was an exhilarating experience with Vikram Sarabhai at the helm, C.K. Prahlad as a batch mate and a beautiful campus being built before my eyes! After IIMA I joined Voltas and spent 3 happy years there, then left in 1969 for a six month assignment with Norton International.
Hoshang and Noshir wrote asking me to join Grindwell as Personnel Director, which I did in 1970. With Norton coming in as a 50% shareholder, they had the right to appoint half the Board and as the youngest Director I stepped off the Board, along with 2 or 3 other non executive Directors. I was appointed an Alternate Director to a Norton Director and was part of the Board for about 36 years – though I ceased to work in Grindwell in 1973, when my son, Firdaus, was born and I wanted more free time. We were at Army & Navy Building when I joined, but as we expanded our staff, we shifted to Shiv Sagar Estate, Worli – till a fire devastated several floors of that building, including GNO's office. Noshir and I stood, with other managers, helplessly watching as the fire tenders were unable to reach our floor. It was a sad night. My newly created Personnel records were lost in the fire. So were many other documents. But with old furniture bought from Godrej, we shifted back to Army & Navy Building and the GNO HO was almost fully functional within 48 hours – a tribute to the "can do will do" attitude of its highly dedicated staff. Grindwell was one of the early recruiters of MBAs and we had a small but fine pool of management talent from the IIMs in a Management Cell whose executives were given assignments that familiarised them with different departments and functions and enabled them to move into line responsibilities as Dept Heads when need arose. It was a good HRD strategy.
Norton brought not only technical know how but new managerial practices to GNO, without interfering unduly in its management. Under Noshir Sidhva, Hoshang Patel and Anand Mahajan the company grew. The Annual Strategic Reviews for the Board were both informative and a way to know the staff. Anand was committed to taking the company
(L-R) Mrs. Almitra Patel, Mrs. Tehmina Sidhwa, Mr. Russi Bilimoria, Mr. Pierre Tracol (then Chairman, GNO), Mr. Amal Chakrabortti (then Vice-Chairman, later, Chairman, GNO), Mrs. Vera Mahajan, Mr. Anand Mahajan, Mrs. Dilnavaz Variava and Mr. H. C. Patel at the inauguration of the Nagpur plant in 1997
on a journey to the top, but was always frank about its strengths and weaknesses, and his monthly reports to the Board were a pleasure to read. Though a Norton Company executive held the Chairman's post from the 1970s, Amal Chakrabortti, a Senior Partner of S.R. Batliboi & Co and later Chairman of Ernst & Young, was Vice Chairman of GNO and a Director for about 25 years. His firm but gentle competence steered the Board for many years, until he retired and another eminent person in the field of Finance, Pradip Shah, took up the baton. Though GNO had a large array of very competent managers, as a Board member I must pay tribute to the dedicated services of Zarir Musa, Joe Pereira and K. Visweswaran as Company Secretaries for many years.
With Saint-Gobain taking over Norton Company, GNO has got a new vibrancy. Anand's managerial talents have been demonstrated, recognised and rewarded. GNO continues to be young in spirit – committed to quality and innovation. Through a fine team of people who together make the GNO family, Grindwell Norton meets international standards of excellence in both technical and managerial arenas. GNO has been socially responsible in its environmental and labour policies, dynamic in the market place and continues on a curve of growth. My family has greatly benefitted from this growth as significant shareholders over the years and I record our warmest good wishes for the years ahead.
Mrs. Dilnavaz Variava is the daughter of Mr. Pheroze H. Sidhwa, Founder - Director and was Personnel Director, Grindwell Norton (1970-73) and the Director/ Alternate Director, Grindwell Norton (1973-2009)
Slick Chick was a small little boat - well, not very small, it could seat a maximum of 10 people – very cute and white in colour - it was my dad's love! My mum used to be called 'chick' so the boat was named 'Slick Chick'. It was a motor boat and was docked at Mora.
My dad had a dog called Chico – a boxer – also the love of his life – so Chico had to be in the boat with us. Over the years, dad had a number of boxers and they were all called Chico!
Here are some of my recollections about Slick Chick, Grindwell and my dad:
The first incident - we were at Gateway of India about to board; the sea was very rough. Chico had managed to get loose off his leash/collar and slipped in the excitement of getting into the boat. He fell into the water in between the boat and the pier. My dad immediately jumped in after him, got hold of him and dragged him out by the scruff of his neck and saved him. There was a lot of shouting and screaming and all round panic – all of us were there - mum, Khursheed and Nina.
My dad loved to swim in the sea. He also liked to ski. When we had Slick Chick, he learned to water-ski. I remember watching him ski from the Gateway of India to Mora. It was
exciting and watching him I thought any minute he was going to fall because the sea was a little choppy. He was the first guy to do that, and probably the last one too.
ML Grindwell was the second boat owned by the company – it was bigger than Slick Chick. This launch plied initially between Mora and the Gateway and later between Mora and Bhau cha dhakka (Ferry Wharf). It was used to ferry employees back and forth. It was white and big and very royal looking! It was once owned by Lord Mountbatten (the English Viceroy) and my dad went to Cochin to get it.
One monsoon, we were all in ML Grindwell. Now, in case you didn't know, there are 3 signals – red, orange and green – based on the weather conditions. When the signal is red, boats are not allowed to ply. We had left during the orange signal because we had to come back to Bombay that day. After we had left, the weather worsened and the signal turned red. We were unable to go back, there were obviously no cell phones back then so there was no way for us to contact anybody or call for help and there was no radio on the boat either. We couldn't go back to Mora nor go forward to Bombay – we were stuck in the middle of the rough sea. We went through hell – I really thought I was going to die because I didn't know how to swim. The boat was rocking and rolling and pitching!!
Mr. N. D. Sidhva (extreme left) at a swimming competition during the Annual Sports Day in Mora in 1966
I remember the captain with his big white captain's cap struggling to control the boat. I remember I turned to my dad and said, "If I'm going to die or go down, I want you to steer the boat" - so he took over the controls/steering. The sea was so rough. After approximately two hours (it's normally a 45 minute ride), we finally reached Bombay. We were unable to dock at Gateway of India so we went a little further in to where the Navy Customs Office was. When we landed there, they asked us where we were coming from – especially because the signal was red and they found that suspicious. Initially, they did not allow us to get off the boat and kept asking us questions. They didn't believe us and thought we were smugglers; but of course, we couldn't be smugglers because we were a family and we had some guests with young children with us. Eventually, they let us dock and with a lot of difficulty but help from the Navy officers, my dad was able to align the boat for us to alight. Then came the 'interesting' part of the whole experience – we had to go through customs!! I remember this part very clearly because at that time, I had just joined Air India and had a lot of foreign items in my handbag like lipstick etc. They questioned every item and didn't want to believe our story... None of us were carrying any ID card – we didn't have those back then. But we somehow managed to get out of there at the end.
Slick Chick was around in the 1960s - ML Grindwell was used in the 1970s and then when AYM started working at Mora in 1984, one of the first things he did was stop plying ML Grindwell as it was extremely uneconomical and not cost effective! Eventually, the boat was sold.
My dad worked very hard. He even worked on Sundays! As a child, I didn't think I had a father because he never spent time with us – even on weekends. But later when we went to boarding school in Kodaikanal, every single summer that we were there, he would come with mum and take us on a holiday. So we traveled all over South and North India, including Kashmir.
When Anand agreed to join Grindwell in 1983, we chose to live in India and not settle elsewhere in the world. Anand also worked very, very hard – he used to wake up at 5 am to catch the ferryboat from 'Bhau cha dhakka' to Mora every day. He used to get sea-sick! He had spent 7 years with State Bank of India and never thought he would ever work in a factory. He learned. It helped that he spoke Marathi as he was able to work his way from the bottom up. He fit in perfectly! But even though he worked very hard, he was a great father. He was very good with the children and he
spent a lot of his time with them. As I was flying at that time, he often had to go to school for parent meetings – very often, he was the only father! He was very different from my father in another way – he never brought work home.
My last recollection is from the 70s and is about Behram Hathikhanawala. Behram was the most polite person that I have ever met, as this incident shows. Every night I used to talk to my boyfriend, Anand, till 11-11:30 pm (there were no cell phones or even second landlines back then). So one night, as soon as I put the phone down, it rang again almost immediately. It was approximately 11:30 pm and when I answered, it was Behram. He wished me Good Evening, asked how I was and so on, before, finally, asking to speak to my dad. He went on to tell me that the reason he was calling so late was to say that the new Grindwell office was on fire! I heard that and my heart sank! I felt so terrible – he must have been trying to reach my dad (Managing Director at the time) for over an hour and all that time, I was speaking to my boyfriend! And yet, when Behram did get through, he took time to greet me first and then calmly go on to explain why he had called so late at night. Of course, we all got into the car and drove straight to the new Worli office where the police asked us to wait. We watched helplessly as the new office turned to ash. The fire was devastating. It was a very traumatic experience for GNO and all of us.
Mrs. Vera Mahajan is the daughter of Mr. Noshir Sidhva. Her husband is Mr. Anand Mahajan
ML Grindwell – the company's own private launch, which was once Lord Mountbatten's, used to take employees from the Bhau cha dhakka (ferry wharf) to the plant at Mora
I Joined a Gulf Company!
The Kala Ghoda precinct in the late 50s. The Army & Navy building is the imposing one in the centre
It was the year 1967. I had recently passed out from College of Engineering, Trivandrum and was working with an automobile ancillary firm in Bombay (Mumbai). Like every other Mallu, I was also looking for an opportunity to go to Persian Gulf.
It was then I saw this ad in Times of India. A company called Grindwell Abrasives invited applications for engineer trainees for a factory in URAN situated across the sea from Bombay. I was new to Bombay and therefore not familiar with the topography. A place across the sea! It must be a country in gulf near IRAN. Anyway, I promptly sent an application.
Couple of weeks later I received invitation to attend an interview at their office in south Bombay. The address given was Army and Navy building opposite King Edward Statue. I enquired with an old timer (remember, there was no Google Map then) to find where the place was.
"Oh! That is Kala Ghoda and the building is old Army and Navy Stores owned by a British company before independence. Route 1 will take you there".
I was interviewed by a Persian looking gentleman named Mr. Sidhva. He wanted to know my familiarity with factory environment and equipment. I was selected along with few other boys. Mr. Sidhva asked us to visit the factory before taking a decision.
Mr. Modi, the HRD Manager explained that we had to go by boat to the factory. He asked us to be at the ferry next day morning. I wanted to know if I should pack bag for the journey.
"No, we will take care of that", he added with a mischievous smile.
Next morning, we assembled at Gateway of India which, I was told, was built to commemorate the visit of the British Monarch, King George V and Queen Mary to India. It was just as well that we were using this route to go in the opposite direction!
We got into a speed boat belonging to Mr. Sidhva and a person from Khyber restaurant delivered a packed lunch. So it is going to be a day long trip!
I had no clue where we were going. Since we were going by boat it could not be a Gulf country. Must be a small country like Mauritius in Arabian Sea.
In about twenty minutes, I could see land.
"That is Uran", Mr. Modi said shattering my dream. Three weeks later I joined the company.
(L-R) Maria, Sonia, Mr. Joy Kutty, Mrs. Beena Kutty Mr. Anand Mahajan, Ashaita, Aakil and Mrs. Vera Mahajan during the Golden Jubilee celebration in Tirupati
Between 1967 and 2002, Mr. Joy Kutty held various positions including Group General Manager – Central Marketing Group and Vice-President Ceramics and Plastics. He was a member of GNO's Management Committee
Mr. N. D. Sidhva addressing employees at Mora, 1972
Senior management at SiC plant, Bangalore. Mr. Hoshang Patel seated on the extreme right
(R-L) Mr. John Adams (then, Vice-President, Asia-Pacific, Norton Co. and Chairman, GNO) and Mr. R. Cushman (President, Norton Company from 1971-1979. He then became Chairman of the Board in 1979) visiting the SiC plant in Bangalore in 1974
Directors of GNO walking down from SiC furnace plant to SiC grain plant at Bangalore in 1974
(L-R) Mr. Hoshang Patel along with Mr. R. Cushman examining the simet bricks
The foundation stone of the Silicon Carbide site in Tirupati laid by Mr. M. Chennareddy, Chief Minister Andhra Pradesh in the presence of Mr. D. Devaraj, Chief Minister Karnataka, Mrs. Tehmina Sidhwa standing on the right
– 2nd July, 1978
(L-R) Mr. R. Cushman, Mrs. Tehmina Sidhwa,
Mr. N. D. Sidhva and Mrs. Almitra Patel inaugurating the fountain in Bangalore in memory of Mr. P. H. Sidhwa (founder Grindwell Norton Ltd.)
(L-R) Mr. John Adams, Mr. R. Cushman, Mr. N. D. Sidhva, Mrs. Almitra Patel and Mrs. Tehmina Sidhwa addressing a gathering in Bangalore
4 Decades at GNO
As GNO celebrates 75 years of its existence, I fondly remember my near 40 years in GNO (I retired 2 years ago and have kept in touch since then). I joined in April 1975.
Many, specially my IIM colleagues, ask me, Joe, 40 years in one group, which is unlike the vast majority from the IIMs.
Not sounding to be presumptuous, but, it is necessary to state: Quite a few of us who joined in the 70s, stayed for a long period, some are still with the Group. We were all top ranked and had opportunities and alternatives while joining and also during our long stay.
I am now speaking for myself, but I am sure, many of the others from IIM and also the Finance professionals, who have stayed for long years, would agree to most of what I state.
I wanted to join a medium size company in and around Bombay only (now called Mumbai), wanted a role in different functions, starting with Finance and Personnel (as it was then called) wanted a company which was professionally managed and with good principles and values, a company with international links (then Norton, now Saint-Gobain), getting career growth opportunities.
However, when I joined, my plan was to stay for around 5 years or so and then decide.
Our Heads at that time, Noshir, Behram, Zarir, Hoshang and Anand (with whom many of us worked for the longest term) gave freedom, opportunities (of course provided –
Mr. Hoshang Patel, Mr. Anand Mahajan and Mr. Joe Pereira along with the Managers of GNO
we performed). We also had highly qualified professional colleagues working with us, many are yet there.
The emoluments elsewhere would have been much higher, though it was also not bad in GNO. Besides there was career growth, which we could decide, a sense of belonging, ownership and as mentioned before, freedom and space. We were always open in our comments during the Management Committee and other meetings and argued a lot among ourselves.
When Saint-Gobain took over Norton and thus GNO in the mid 90s, many saw added opportunities and stayed. In fact, many of our managers rejoined us after leaving for a few years.
I finally retired in April 2014 as Executive Director with satisfaction of having given off my best and enjoyed my working stint. I have tried to stay in touch with GNO and the Group.
Over these 40 years, I can count many interesting and enjoyable meetings and functions and anecdotes.
GNO – Keep it Up!
Mr. Joseph A. J. Pereira served GNO and the Saint-Gobain Group in India in various functions including Vice-President (HR and Finance) and Executive Director (Corporate Services). He joined GNO in 1975 and retired in 2014. Joe was a member of the GNO Management Committee
(L-R) Mr. Anand Mahajan presenting the Long Service Award to Mr. Joe Pereira and Mrs. Cloty Pereira in 2011
Memories that Last a Lifetime...
I joined Grindwell in 1970. It was not GNO yet, that happened a year later. The office was at the Army & Navy Building, right opposite Rhythm House and Samovar (both sadly no longer there). Indian Airlines ticket booking office was on the ground floor.
What struck me immediately was the composition of the staff. Parsis constituted easily the largest group. Even after a lapse of over 45 years, I can remember nearly 25 names; and its members covered the entire spectrum, from Mr. Noshir Sidhva at the top right down to the clerical levels. The 'Madrasis', a euphemism used for South Indians in general, formed the next largest group, having nearly 20 members, with the likes of Mr. Sankaran (Controller), Lingam (Market Research) adorning it. Christians formed the third largest group, with over 10 members, Mr. George Fernandes (no connection with his famous namesake) as the Sales Manager being the most distinguished among them. The Marathi group was smaller and low profile; the addition of Satish Joshi and myself giving it a significant boost, quantitatively and qualitatively. And, before I forget, I must share the information that in 1969, Grindwell had recruited possibly the largest contingent of 9 MBAs from IIM Ahmedabad, a feat GNO could not come anywhere near to thereafter.
The atmosphere in the office used to be quite informal. Mr. Musa ( Zarir Frazer as he wants to be known now) would always greet with a broad smile and indulge in a lot of candid conversation. The 'men's room' used to be on the mezzanine floor. If any one of us was visiting it singly, he would call it 'Solo', if two went together, it became a 'Duet' and for 3 or more it was 'Orchestra'!
India with multiplicity of languages has great potential for some tricky situations. I can remember at least three, after so many years.
GNO's Pune Sales Office was headed by Mr. Farokh Antia, a former national level Badminton doubles player, and a natural sales personality. Abdul was his man friday, who
also used to be behind the wheel. Now, this Abdul was a real character, creating both intended and unintended humour. Once, a few of us were travelling in Farokh's car and, of course, Abdul was driving. A PE was sitting next to me and having experienced Abdul for around 4 days, was talking to me about him. He was telling me things about Abdul in English, secure in the belief that Abdul spoke only Marathi and Hindi. After about 10 minutes, we heard a solemn voice from the front side, "Sir, I am understand". Imagine the expression on the PE's face.
Another time, Mumbai Branch SE was taking his RM for a visit to MUSCO for the first time. As it happened, the SE had also just started servicing this customer. They went and met with Mr. Srivatsa, the Purchase Manager. Mr. Srivatsa was clearing his papers, and the two GNOites started talking amongst themselves in Tamil. They were discussing what strategy to adopt while dealing with Mr. Srivatsa. Suddenly, Mr. Srivatsa looked up from his papers and spoke to them in chaste Tamil that he was now ready for a discussion. Imagine the predicament of our friends! What had happened was
Mr. Pramod Bapat (second from left) and Mr. F. J. Antia (standing) along with Pune dealers in the 80s
that the SE was under the impression that the customer's name was 'Srivastava' and had given the same information to his boss.
Cut to 1992, when GNO was celebrating its Golden Jubilee. I was heading the Mora Plant at that time. A big function was organised at Mora for all its employees including workmen, and Mr. Michel Besson, Chairman, Norton Co., was present, too. He, in his heavy French accent addressed the gathering. He must have spoken for a good 10 minutes or more. At the end of his speech, Mr. Anand Mahajan turned to me, and asked me to give a summary of Mr. Besson's speech in Marathi to the audience. I was quite unprepared for this.
Fortunately, I had been attentive, and could give the gist of the speech without much problem.
There are so many memories, and I could go on and on. Before you start yawning, I would better stop.
Mr. Pramod Bapat served in various functions in Abrasives (Sales, Marketing, Manufacturing, Operations) including Vice-President - Grinding Wheel Division. He was a member of the GNO Management Committee. He joined in 1970 and retired in 2005
(L-R) Mr. Jean LeMinoux (then Vice-President, Abrasives, Europe), Mr. Pramod Bapat, Mr. J.N.Bhandare and Mr. Ravi Purushotham in a ferry to Mora in the early 90s
Working for Peanuts
It was, I think, the 1st quarter of 1978 when the Chairman, GNO Board of Directors – a Senior V.P. from Norton, Worcester, was in India for the usual review of operations . As a part of his visit to Bangalore, a cocktail-dinner party was organized at Taj Residency (now Taj Vivanta on M.G. Road). I was less than 6 months old in GNO and it was my first GNO get-together! The waiters were serving beer, whiskey, along with samosas and salted peanuts. Some of us were talking in a corner when Mr. H.C. Patel (HCP) the then Director in-charge of Bangalore operations came to me and asked – Shashi, what are you having? Since I was yet to get into the 'proper GNO corporate groove' from the 'bold IIT attitude', I showed salted peanuts and said –'my salary!' And, lo & behold, HCP with his sharp & wry sense of humour lifted a peanut, put it back into my palm and said – 'your increment!!' And, I knew I had joined a fabulous company!!
Way back in 1979, Keki Darbary was my boss at the Tirupati Plant. I was then the Works Manager at the site. I remember an instance, when he had come along with Noshir Sidhva – the then Managing Director and we decided to visit the Balaji temple at Thirumala. We drove-up in my car – MET 4208 and had to wait after parking it for us to be escorted inside for the darshan.
While we were chatting around, Keki noticed my car number and said 'Kumar! (he used to call me Kumar), do you know what your car number indicates? It says 420 and that too 8 times!'
At this all of us laughed and once the laughter subsided, Noshir, in his own usual way, rubbed his chin and with a smile said 'Aloo's (his wife) car number is also the same.'
Well, you can guess how the silence and smiles that ensued would have been.
Dr. A.L. Shashimohan served in various functions in R&D and Industrial Ceramics (now, High Performance Refractories) between 1978 and 2000
Mr. V. Shivkumar served various functions in the Abrasives Materials Division including General Manager between 1970 and 1991
Dr. A.L. Shashimohan
SiC plant in Tirupati in 1983
Pullman Swindell Tunnel Kiln (PTK) Construction at Mora
Mr. Pramod Bapat and Mr. Hoshang Patel (seated in the centre), Mr. F.J. Antia (standing third from left) along with Pune dealers
(L-R) Dr. Pingle, Mr. Sahirudeen, Mr. Welling and Mr. Pramod Bapat at Mora
Prospectus of GNO’s Initial Public Offer - 14th Nov, 1983
Form of application for Debentures and Equity Shares
For many years, GNO's Registered and Head Office was located in the iconic Army & Navy building in the heritage Fort area of Mumbai
GNO - Always Ahead on Ideas
I joined GNO in May 1980 hopeful that I would add to its managerial depth. The leisurely pace of induction at Mora afforded a rare opportunity for me to delve into the Company's well maintained archives starting from the early 50s, to the entry of Norton through technical and financial collaboration in the 60s, and the induction of high quality professional managers in the 70s. What caught my attention the most was that for a medium-size family enterprise serving an industrial market, GNO was bristling with managerial ideas that were at the forefront at that time.
In late 1970s and early 80s, GNO realised that the Thin Wheel market that was
growing at a rapid pace required a renewed focus. The
company came up with a near perfect, copy book Market Segmentation approach, developed unique products tailor-made for each segment, invested in high capacity production lines, created a unique brand "SPIT FIRE" (that is still very popular) and pioneered the Cluster Marketing approach using dedicated channels. This enabled the company to acquire a profitable leadership position in a fast growing industry that is still holding good after three
Early on, GNO understood the strategic value of an integrated information system. My first assignment was to implement the Order Confirmation and Execution System and the Sales Analysis System. The OCES and SAS became the mainstay of the company for nearly a decade, providing a high quality information for decision making. Buoyed by the success of the Thin Wheel approach, GNO decided to create Strategic Business Units, each focused on a specific market segment with its own market and product development team and
dedicated production line. As part of the OCES and SAS assignment, we defined the SBU & SSBUs and aligned the entire Information System to support the six newly created
GNO, working on the idea of Total Customer Satisfaction (TCS) began to put customer at the core of its operations. True to its style, GNO developed four unique pillars to drive its initiative.
- Quality (consistent product performance)
- Technology (staying ahead of the curve through new products)
- Reliability (Do what you say, Say what you do)
- Responsiveness (rapid response to customer needs)
In today's world when we talk of "Customer Centricity", the four dimensions developed by GNO in 80s are still invaluable.
The first 'SpitFire' wheel from the Thin Wheels Plant in Bangalore in 1992. The Thin Wheels Plant was transferred to Nagpur in 1997. On the right of Mr. Mahajan is Mr. H.C. Patel, (Managing Director - Grindwell Norton Ltd. - 1983-1991)
Reflective thinking has always been a source of strength for GNO. In the late 80s, the GNO team was introspecting on how to grow faster than competition. GNO concluded that its market share was built on a narrow foundation. The Sales Analysis System also confirmed that this hypothesis was true. GNO realized that its overall market share was built on few products, lower market reach, less customers and fewer items within each customer. GNO started to address this phenomenon, through a simple, yet unique approach titled "Broad Basing". The objective to capture more markets, customers and more items per customer became the mantra. This was later on christened "Operation Octopus", an umbrella strategy for GNO to enter into every potential business segment that was untapped. The famous CMG Diary created in 1987 is an outstanding example of what is now termed as "Granular Approach" to business, listing out individual objectives at a market, product, customer, item level, all completely aligned to the business goals.
Market Segmentation, Business Orientation, Broad Basing, Organizational Alignment - all these culminated in an emotional "Journey to the Top" that took over three years, driving the entire organization to achieve a Superordinate Goal to become No.1 in Bonded Abrasives (more on this by Dinakar in his column).
These days we are often told that the role of HR is to be a business partner who adds strategic value. This concept was in practice in GNO in the 80s. The functional heads were empowered to identify, recruit, train and manage the performanceoftheirteams. LearningandDevelopmentwas
Mr. B. Santhanam leaving the stage after receiving the Long Service Award from Mr. Anand Mahajan. Mr. Joe Pereira (seated in the centre) - 1996
an integral part of the objectives of the Business Units. This resulted in many functional and business leaders in GNO developing strong Human Resources perspective, which they leveraged to improve business performance.
GNO, for a Company that remained as a family owned enterprise for over four decades, has always been a model for what is now known as Good Corporate Governance and drew a fine line between ownership and management. At every stage, the family members, whether they are part of Management or the Board ensured that the professionals have the highest degree of freedom to perform and progress in an empowered environment.
As GNO celebrates its 75th year, showcasing how 'Alive' the Company is, I would like to sum up and add that, when I think of GNO, I am constantly reminded of the unique culture of the Company that creates and implements managerial ideas often "Ahead of its Time". I am sure that many of my colleagues in the Saint-Gobain Group today are equally proud to have been part of GNO.
Mr. B. Santhanam served GNO in various functions within Abrasives (Planning, Sales and Marketing) including General Manager (Sales and Marketing). He joined in 1980. In 1998, he moved to the Glass Business of Saint-Gobain. Today, he is President, Flat Glass – India, Egypt and Malaysia
Young Management Trainees at the BQ in Mora in 1981 (L-R) Mr. P. Natarajan, Mr. S. Ramachandran,
Mr. B. Santhanam, Mr. Satish Kakade, Mr. R.K. Mangal
Journey to the Top
About 120 kms from Mumbai is a little known tourist place called Karla, famous for its historical caves dating back to the 2nd century BC. It was here in October, 1987, 15 front-line Sales Engineers from GNO had gathered together at the Maharashtra Tourism resort for a training program on selling skills, the trainers being the Senior Sales Managers of GNO.
The last day of this program was a set of events that was to turn into a true black swan moment for GNO. In an open forum discussion, the Sales Engineers assembled were invited to express their opinions on whether they genuinely believed that each one of them could be a market leader in his territory and if they felt that they could, they were asked to comment on what was holding them back! Speaker after speaker took the podium and reaffirmed his strong belief that they were indeed better- off than their competitor counterpart and being a leader with their set of customers and in their territories was something that could be achieved. The seeds of a "quest for market leadership" in Grinding Wheels were sown on that evening.
Drawing upon a metaphorical parallel to a war, a powerful, yet simple strategy was drawn up to achieve this goal. A motivating slogan - "Journey to the Top" was also coined, to be used extensively as a unifying theme in the fight for market leadership. The next two years saw an incredible transformation journey within GNO, as milestones were achieved and barriers hitherto thought of as impossible to break were breached. While the front-end (sales) fighters reported several individual battlefield successes, the strategy planners in the Head Office expanded the scope of this war to increase our distribution reach into hundreds of small towns across the country, described again metaphorically as "Operation Octopus".
Between 1988-90, this powerful war machine of highly committed front end warriors, backed by some of the finest generals (bosses in HO) implementing and improvising strategy, fine tuning battle-field tactics, keeping the troops motivated and focused, celebrating wins and supporting each other through the tougher phases that are inevitable in any war, victories (business expansion and sales growth) were won on several fronts, taking GNO's Grinding Wheels business closer and closer to the peak of becoming the market leader.
The war was finally won in March, 1991. A hard fought victory, to be cherished and celebrated, ended in a grand finale on the beaches of Fort Aguada Goa, in April, 1991. To the lilting tunes
of then popular football world cup opener theme song of Italia Novanta (Italy 90), a toast was raised by the GNO Abrasives leadership team singing in chorus and proudly acclaiming the magical words -- "We are Number One". It was not just a historical moment for GNO, but in this coveted achievement in many ways shaped the destiny of the Abrasives business for years to come.
Co-incidentally, 1991 was also GNO's 50th year and was celebrated across the country with the theme "Life begins at 50". Market leadership in Grinding Wheels was the best gift, the company and its employees gave themselves. It is often said that many historical milestones are shaped by seemingly insignificant, random events. So was the case with GNO's Journey to the Top, an eventful and memorable journey that began with a routine, innocuous selling skills training program in an obscure, little known tourist town near the hill station Lonavla.
In the final analysis, it must be said that this journey and becoming the "Number One" was yet another outstanding example of "What we are capable of achieving when we come together, driven by a common goal and led by a leadership that everyone believes in". The Abrasives business of GNO expanded and grew, achieving several business successes in the nineties and into the new millennium but the warriors of the Journey to the Top had left an indelible footprint in GNO's rich history!
Mr. A. Dinakar joined GNO in December, 1984 as Graduate Engineer Trainee and served in several functions in Abrasives including Sales, Marketing, Product management and Business management until 2005. He returned to the Group in 2011 and is currently the Managing Director, for the Sekurit Business within the Saint-Gobain Group in India
Management Conference at Fort Aguada, Goa 1991 (L-R) Mr. Shyam Digamber,
Mr. P. Natarajan, Mr. R.K. Mittal,
Mr. Vivek Madiwale, Mr. A. Dinakar,
Mr. J.N. Bhandare, Mr. S. Panchapakesan, Mr. G. Swaminathan, Mr. Mathew Zakaria
Mr. N.D. Sidhva, Mr. Hoshang Patel along with Managers at a conference in Bangalore, 1983
First Coated Abrasives Conference, Bangalore, Feb 1989
1st Row (L-R) Mr. S.G. Jagtap, Mr. B.J. Kalwachia, Mr. R.P. Gupta, Mr. V. Ramakrishnan, Mr. A.V. Ghatge & Mr. P. Natarajan
2nd Row (L-R) Mr. H.C. Patel, Mr. Zarir Frazer (then Musa), Dr. G.K. Valecha (guest facilitator), Mr. K.C. Srinivas, Mr. D.T.Devare, Mr. J. Ramesh, Mr. W.S. Ranjan & Mr. T. Vardarajan
3rd Row (L-R) Mr. S. Nabar & Mr. J.B. Lasrado
Growing with GNO
I joined GNO in 1987 and from my batch, Deepak Chindarkar is the only one who is in GNO today. It was during my 8 year tenure in GNO that I got married and became a father of my two children. And yes, I cannot forget that I had an excellent growth while in Grindwell; I joined as a skinny 67 kg and left weighing all of 90 kg. But GNO has shaped me more than just physically.
I have been able to better appreciate GNO and the influence it has had on me, after I left the company. I think back of employees who always discussed business and talked
shop even after office hours, showing a fierce commitment that cut across all levels. I remember an organization that was almost devoid of politics and where merit and merit alone counted. GNO was a company, where people from different states and very different cultural backgrounds came together as one.
It didn't take me too long to get sucked into the GNO culture. An evening in a Bangalore pub after a tiring day to discuss the results of an ODI cricket match quickly turned to a discussion on that latest trial with hopefully no errors at MICO. Dress did not mean apparel; it was what you did to a wheel with a diamond tip while dressing down was what in Khandala, Joy Kutty did to you, after a bad year. And given my constant struggles with receivables, I was made painfully aware that being regularly outstanding was not necessarily a virtue that one got complimented for.
After I left GNO, over 20 years back, I have looked in my subsequent employers – mostly in vain – for leaders with the stature and vision of an Anand Mahajan, the overall brilliance of B. Santhanam, the intellect of P.K. Bapat, the affability of Joe Pereira and the man management skills of my first boss, Anil Singh. And now that I head a company in the Middle East, I find myself describing an ideal employee as one with the selling skills and enterprise of Dinakar, the boundless energy of Virinder Khosla, the technical ability of Venu Shanbhag and the diligence of Narayan Prasad.
GNO, from a grateful ex-employee and his family, we wish you a very happy 75th birthday and continued success in the years ahead.
Mr. Mathew Zakaria joined GNO as a Management Trainee in 1987. He worked in GNO until 1995 serving in various roles in Abrasives including Branch Manager – Bombay branch
(R-L) Mr. Anand Mahajan with Mr. Mathew Zakaria