Laxmanrao Kirloskar was the founder of the Kirloskar Group of companies and also laid the foundation to build the township of Kirloskarwadi, which is amongst India’s first industrial townships. He had a clear ability to look into the future, a keen sense of opportunity, a passion for machines and innovation and a drive to mechanize, all of which he blend together to manufacture equipment’s and tools to help industrialize India.
The Kirloskar saga began in 1888 when Laxmanrao set up a small bicycle repair shop in Belgaum, India. Strongly believing that agricultural implements must fit the milieu they are used in, he manufactured India’s first iron plough in 1903. Originally intended as an essential aid to agriculture, the plough soon became an icon of reform and revolution. The iron plough was the first of many engineering innovations in India and the products that followed, through Laxmanrao’s vision, comprise of India’s first centrifugal pump, first diesel engine, first electric motor and so on.
After Laxmanrao, his son, Shantanu Kirloskar took over the mantle of the Kirloskar group. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and was among the first Indians to graduate from there in 1926. He was a visionary who played a vital role in the growth of Indian industry and agriculture in the 20th century. A man of principles, his keen business acumen, global perspective and innovative streak coupled with strong determination, hastened India on the path to economic success in the pre-independence era. He was a futurist who viewed India as a part of the rest of the world and worked towards making India globally competitive.
SLK was one of the early successful entrepreneurs of India. Building on his father’s foundations, he developed the small venture of Kirloskar Brothers (KBL), incorporated in 1920, into a group of companies with branches all over the world. He established an engine company in 1946, which became the largest diesel engine factory in India with the highest export earnings. He was also responsible for bringing Cummins to India as he had close ties with Robert Huthsteiner, who was the president of Cummins, USA at the time. Kirloskar Cummins Ltd. (KCL) was established in 1961 and the partnership allowed Cummins to further their global manufacturing strategy. His next objective was to diversify in such a way that Kirloskar-made engines would serve a variety of applications in India and the international markets.
SLK was a pioneer in exporting engineering goods. He exported the first consignment of diesel engines to Germany in 1954, when nobody had thought of exporting such sophisticated products. He became the chairman of Engineering Export Promotion Council in 1957. In the 60’s, the engine company took over F H Schule GmbH of Hamburg, West Germany and invested heavily in GG Dandekar. To promote exports, offices were set up at Rotterdam, Holland and Bangkok, Thailand, at a time when globalization was a scarcely uttered word even in the developed countries. He also set up assembly plants in Malaysia and Philippines to cater to the local markets and a worldwide distributers network.
Today, building on its core engineering strength, the group’s scope of operations spans across a wide spectrum of industrial equipment ranging from eco-friendly diesel engines & silent generating sets, air & gas compressors, air-conditioning, refrigeration equipment, and also a wide range of anti-corrosion coatings and castings for the automotive sector. With a history of integrity and innovation, Kirloskar is not only addressing the needs of the times, it is developing leading edge solutions for customers across the globe. For more on Kirloskar Group, please visit www.kirloskarlimitless.com