A Motor Company Of 100+ Years, T.V. Sundaram Iyengar &Sons

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The TVS group, a hundred+years Company, is a conglomerate of nearly 60 Companies and are into vehicle sales & service, 2 wheeler manufacturing, Parts distribution of major OEMs, Finance, Insurance, Auto component manufacturing, logistics & good transport, Electronics. The group has an employee strength of nearly 50,000 and has a revenue of nearly US$ 7.2 billion. It has built its reputation based on the three pillars of Customer Satisfaction, values and Employee welfare.


In the early 1930s, selling cars to rich zamindars in southern Tamil Nadu was not easy. They preferred horse-drawn carts. T.V. Sundaram Iyengar & Sons, or TVS & Sons, which had bagged a General Motors dealership, decided to drive its message home quite literally. A Chevrolet car, complete with chauffeur, would be sent to a zamindar's house, with a request that he use the car for a week. Over the next seven days, the family would often get used to the comfort and status the car gave them, and end up buying one. The company also invited the local elite to arrive in their horse-drawn carts and drive out in a car. Such precursors of the exchange offer and the test drive were not the only things TVS & Sons pioneered. After the car was sold, the dealership kept a record of its performance, periodically interacted with old customers and ensured complaints were addressed in 24 hours. In the 1940s, it even launched a mobile service facility to go to the customer's doorstep.

TVS, established in Madurai in 1911, did not cater only to the rich. Indeed, its first business, started in 1912, was a rural transport service. TVS went the extra mile to ensure buses ran on time. One measure to minimise delays was to fit a special vehicle with heavy-duty magnets underneath. The magnets would pick up nails and bits of horseshoe, left behind by horses and bullocks along the route, and reduce the risk of delays due to punctures.


A century later, customer satisfaction and employee welfare continue to be the cornerstone of the group, which is now run by T.V.S. Iyengar's great-grandsons. TVS & Sons is the holding company of the group, and still runs the group's dealership and spare parts distribution businesses.Over the years, Sundaram Motors has added dealerships for Distribution and service of vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet in the South India through 19 conveniently located car Dealerships. The company sells over 55,000 vehicles, which include commercial vehicles sold by the parent company.


Sundaram Motors are also distributors for the products of Premier Ancillary Manufactures whose products are fitted as original equipment by the vehicle manufacturers. These distribution centres are located at several cities and towns at Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Assam.


Sundaram Iyengar’s four sons joined the family business even before they had finished school.

Of his three daughters, TS Soundram, a gynaecologist, was a renowned Gandhian activist whose legacy lives on in southern Tamil Nadu. In 1947, Soundram and her Dalit Gandhian husband G Ramachandran started the model rural settlement, Gandhigram, based on the Mahatma's social and economic vision, near Dindugul.


World War II necessitated industrial innovations at TVS and it triggered an engineering culture that would help the group win accolades such as the Deming Prize more than half a century later.As petrol became scarce during the war years, Sundaram Iyengar’s son TS Krishna (father of Sundram Fasteners Chairman Suresh Krishna) designed and developed a gas plant to help power vehicles with charcoal gas instead of precious petrol. At the time, TVS sold a whopping 12,000 units of the gas plant.Similarly, to overcome rubber shortage and trim the tyre bills of its fleet, TVS opened a retreading factory in Pudukottai that would also make belts for Ford and Chevrolet. That business marked the beginning of Sundaram Industries.


The reputation of TVS’ transport services was such that its punctuality became the gold standard for a nascent industry, as did Sundaram Iyengar’s ethical business practices and thoughtful employee welfare programmes.Apart from being a successful business man, T V Sundram Iyengar was a patron of the arts.He was praised by Rajaji, a senior statesmen and governor general of India at that time, for his gesture of retiring and handing over the trade to his sons.He died in the early hours of 28 April 1955 at his residence in Kodaikanal at the age of 78 and at that time was survived by his wife, four sons and three daughters.


The history of TV Sundaram Iyengar and Sons group of companies can be traced back to ThirukurungudiVenkagaruswamy Sundaram Iyengar who quit his lucrative careers in railways and started his own business. He initiated the first bus service in Madurai and consolidated their presence in the transportation business in a period when such a kind of business was nowhere heard of, especially in Southern India.


TVS & Sons also has two subsidiary companies that include TVS Logistics Services Limited – India’s leading third-party logistics service provider and TVS Automobile Solutions Private Limited – India’s largest after-market service provider for passenger cars, which also operates the brand MyTVS.Sundaram Motors is a one-stop solution for customer needs felicitating trade-in of cars to sale of new car and a host of allied support services, an experience to behold.