A case of an Indian company’s success abroad

It was undoubtedly one of the most sparkling events in corporate Bangkok’s social calendar. Led by Aditya Birla the group celebrated its silver jubilee in Thailand with a lavish party that was the talk of the town for several weeks.

Widely publicized through full page splashes in major local dailies with a suitably high profile guest list the 2,000 prominent invitees included the Thai Prime minister, Finance Minister and Secretary General of the Board of industries along with chairmen of some of the well known banks and corporations in Bangkok and elaborate gilt edged invitation cards, the glittering do at the plush Shangri La Hotel was an affair that Bangkok’s glitterati is not likely to forget in hurry.

The ambience was just right. There were rose petals and incense, delectable Indian sweets like jalebis, halwas, pulaos and masala dosas. Not that the food was predominantly Indian though there was Japanese seafood and Thai curries embellished with some colorful Indian entertainment which helped add spice to the free flowing liquor. And in this rarified atmosphere the cocktail cognoscenti sat back to appreciate the entrepreneurial skills of one of India’s most well known business groups.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Aditya Birla threw light on the group’s overseas operations both current (in Asia, England and Egypt) and proposed (in Rumania Poland and Russia). But Thailand, he declared was social.

The group has pioneered some advanced technology in the country and has a handsome clutch of brands and products in its kitty. We have put Thailand in the world economy front, said Aditya Birla not without a tinge of pride. And the audio visual show that followed, drove the point home, attributing the group’s success in Thailand to future oriented technology market consciousness, the policy of transferring technology to Thai supervisors, frequent seminars and programs to encourage employee involvement and team spirit.

The debonair Chairman of the group is not being over optimistic. The group’s Thai operations which included nine companies, are not only its largest outside India but also enjoy a formidable reputation in local industry circles for environment friendliness and technological superiority.

The group, in fact, was among the first to explore rural area outside the heavily congested Bangkok as sites for its factories. This ensured not only a pollution free work environment but also created a number of jobs.

Indeed, in Thailand the group’s accent on safety, quality and employees has earned it accolades galore. Its adherence to strict quality standards resulted in the group being chosen best quality suppliers for a number of well known corporate names, like Palmolive, Michelin and others.

President of the group’s That Peroxide Company feels that the team spirit encouraged by this company helped it become Thailand’s premier producer of hydrogen peroxide. And what’s more, thanks to the state of the machinery. Its factory at the Saraburi district has not reported a single accident till date.

And it is not the only one. The group’s Carbon Black Company has been awarded the Company for Best Productivity in 1994. Equipped with sophisticated technology the company exports 30 per cent of its products.

Carbon Black is not an isolated example. The group has been a major foreign exchange earner for Thailand. This year they exported goods worth a handsome 43.5 billion baht (Thai currency) and this was expected to go up to 44.5 billion baht by 1995. Currently more than 50 percent of what the group produces is exported to 25 countries across the world.

Another sister organization, the Thai rayon Company has, for long been the only manufacturer of acrylic fibers in South East Asia while Century Mills, another Birla outfit, is the leading manufacturer of fancy fabrics which includes everything from polyester rayon to other rayons and linen in Thailand.