The usual tendency is to always move towards greater technological complexity. However, the Kirloskars used simpler methods and technologies and replaced multi-nationals.
Originally the Kirloskars were buyers of outdated technology from multinationals, two decades later they are today one of the most successful players in a global survival area – water management. With a company that started in 1888, they are now stars on the Indian corporate scene.
When foreign operators came into India they became a threat to the business by competing with the latest technology, so in 1985, the Kirloskars started asking the key question which leaders need to ask, ‘Can we be self-sufficient?’
Today they hold the key to food security by providing pump sets for water irrigation projects across the world. Replacing metal pumps with practically unbreakable concrete pumps they have created systems that would last forever. To illustrate their contribution to the complete agricultural operations of a country, the youngest of the clan, Alok Kirloskar, recalls ‘six years ago the rice economy in Laos was bad. In comparison, with a unique system of pump sets mounted on boats, Laos had a surplus of rice in 2005-2006.’
The real change came when they invested in a research department which rolled out one innovation after the other, rising to satisfy increasingly higher levels of client needs. Today Kirloskar stands among the top five engineering companies in the world. They are involved with prestigious projects like Rand Water in South Africa. Poised for exponential growth, their corporate motto is Excellence through Simplicity. The Kirloskar chose to compete by simplifying. They could quote Rs.500 crores for a project where the foreign collaboration quoted for Rs.3000 crores. Simply by replacing the delicate expensive pumps with inexpensive, practically unbreakable concrete pumps.