Book Review: The Making of Hero

The Book ‘ The Making of Hero’ is written by Sunil Kant Munjal

The author is part of the well respected Munjal family and the book is a very honest attempt to tell the story of Hero from an unique insider’s perspective.

The Munjals hailed from Kamalia, a small town in Lyallpur district of Punjab (now in Pakistan).

Owing to difficult economic circumstances, the Munjal brothers didn’t wait for matriculation and went to work straightaway. Its an interesting trivia to know that the first job of Brij Mohan Munjal (at the age of fifteen) was to count the number of sugarcane bundles at the fields before they were transported to the market !

Later, the Munjal brothers worked at the British ordinance factory in Quetta,Balochistan where they got training in machinery realated to arms and bicycles.

Subsequntly, they shifted to Ludhiana and started a small bicycle parts shop.This continued on a small scale till the birth of Hero Cycles in 1956.

Cycles was the growth industry of the time.As Brij Mohan Munjal said : “On the road, there were nothing other than bicycles.And nothing to repair them with”

The Book details how the Munjals went about manufacturing different parts of the bicycle-handlebars. mudguards, frames etc.

The design philosophy was simple – Aesthics was not important. What was important was cost, durability, simple maintenance and easy availability of spare parts. This same design philosophy ensured the huge success of Hero Motorcyles.

The Book then narrates how the biz grew from making a first year production of 639 bicycles a year to lakhs of bicycles in later years.

The author talks about how Honda partnered with Hero to establish Hero Honda.It makes for fascinating reading.

All family businesses end up eventually in splits and partitioning of assets.The Munjals went about it in a very professional and mature manner and is certainly worth emulating by other business families.

One of the greatest legacies of the Hero group is how they encouraged and built an entire eco-system of auto ancilliaries around Ludhiana.In a low trust society like India, its truly remarkable how so many people wanted to associate with the Munjals either as vendors,suppliers, dealers etc

I would strongly recommend this book for those interested in Indian family businesses.

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