Everyone knows the phrase, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ For Godrej Lawkim Motors CEO Vijay Crishna, this couldn’t be truer. “I was introduced to the Godrej family in the 1970s when I first met my wife. In 1977, her father asked if I was interested in running a sinking motor manufacturing business he’d just acquired – despite the fact that I didn’t know a thing about engineering,” Vijay admits.

“I cautiously accepted, and it took us around five hard years to get the company back up and running with a new team and a new vision.”

Founded in 1897, Godrej is a US$4.5 billion corporation committed to building a strong and independent India. Catering to more than 600 million customers each day, Godrej continues to offer contemporary, technologically advanced and customised products and solutions that are built on a strong foundation – decades of deep customer insight and understanding.

Vijay Crishna, CEO of Godrej Lawkim Motors
Vijay Crishna, CEO of Godrej Lawkim Motors

Established in 1961, Lawkim pioneered the manufacturing of hermetic compressor motors in India. Today a part of the Godrej Group, it manufactures specialised hermetic compressor motors, single-phase motors, custom-built three-phase motors, components and parts. These are supplied to industry segments ranging from air conditioning and refrigeration, to domestic appliances, energy and motion handling.

With eight years of management experience in Kolkata and five years in advertising in Mumbai, Vijay isn’t afraid to admit that he didn’t know where to begin with the new Godrej Lawkim Motors.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think my non-engineering background was a hindrance, because the biggest part of the job – dealing with people and tricky situations – was common sense. Looking back, I think it helped that I came in with a fresh set of eyes,” he says. “Sure, we had our challenges but for many of us, it was our first job and now we’ve been working together for more than 25 years.”

"I think it helped that I came in with a fresh set of eyes.”

Always staying on his toes, Vijay says the challenges facing the business today are vastly different from those he faced in the past. “This is largely due to the changes in India’s engineering industry and the growing local presence of overseas competitors. At the heart of our efforts to overcome these challenges is the strong team we’ve been able to form,” he notes.

“Every five years, we re-evaluate our mission, our values and our strategies to quickly and efficiently meet changing customer demands. We look at recent trends, the impact of globalisation and urbanisation, and which new technologies and competitors are entering the market.”

Vijay Crishna, CEO of Godrej Lawkim Motors

Vijay says this continual reassessment is the crucial to Godrej Lawkim’s ongoing success. “We’re always looking at where we can improve in order to remain the preferred vendor for our customers. This means having a greater focus on innovation and agility,” he says.

"We’re always looking at where we can improve in order to remain the preferred vendor for our customers.”

“We want to be a world-class manufacturer of electric motors, and we’ve picked up a handful of terrific young Indian designers to work on the best commercial and industrial applications for our products. It’s about being competitive, relevant and consistent.”

Today, Godrej Lawkim is a US$50 million company with a 26% compound annual growth rate. To cater to the growth of manufacturing in India, it has established laboratories in Mumbai, Pune, Vadodara and Chennai. Its 60,000-square-metre Pune manufacturing plant follows the best modern practices and is recognised for ensuring high levels of productivity and safety. With a team of 700 people including 100 engineers, it has the capacity to manufacture four million motors every year.

Over the past 15 years, Vijay has helped turn the business around from incurring losses in 2012 to growing 15% year on year. “This is really commendable because it’s difficult to add value in the manufacturing of electric motors; no-one wants to pay more for them,” he explains. “It shows that with the right people and the right process, we’re able to achieve great things. This doesn’t even take into account the reputation and values we’ve inherited from Godrej.”

Vijay Crishna, CEO of Godrej Lawkim Motors

Lawkim’s strong emphasis on generating world-class products, innovative ideas and quality services has gained global recognition over the past few decades. The business is constantly evolving by developing new products, processes and technologies. It’s BLDC motors, IE3 motors and single-phase, flameproof motors are already in the market and gaining recognition, and the company is in the process of developing high-efficiency IEC frame motors.

Nevertheless, Vijay says Godrej Lawkim Motors is certainly not in the clear. “Despite the amazing things we’ve accomplished in recent years, the industry is moving at such a rapid pace that we somehow always find ourselves slightly behind the curve. Everything we’re doing well now will soon not be good enough,” he explains. “We’re always having to rethink how we approach our customers and what challenges they’re facing that we can help with. Because our products are going into their products – that’s what
a motor is all about.”

Godrej Lawkim values long-term relationships with customers in India and abroad, which is evident from its close associations with partners such as Cummins, Emerson, Hitachi and Kollmorgen Corporation. The company’s goal is to be a world-class manufacturer of electric motors for home appliances, and commercial and industrial applications, by being focused on the customer, being competitive and consistent in the value it adds and the quality it provides to customers throughout India and in international markets.

“We have an ambitious plan to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20% over the next 10 years, with a minimum return on investment of 20%,” Vijay says.