Zipping in the fast lane

Venu SrinivasanChennai: Perhaps Venu Srinivasan is the only corporate chief in the world to sport three prestigious quality medals awarded by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) on his lapel.

In 1998, Sundaram Clayton Limited, of which he is the MD, won the Deming medal. Four years later, he received another on behalf of the Rs2,856-crore TVS Motor Company Limited as the chairman and managing director, followed by Sundaram Clayton winning the Japan Quality Medal — regarded as being a notch above the Deming — in 2002.

Srinivasan, who bridles at the sight of even a scrap of dirt on his factory floor, believes in the all-encompassing scope of quality consciousness. After all, he is the driving force behind his companies' quest for achieving total quality.

In 2001, when TVS Motor Company Limited (then TVS Suzuki Limited) parted ways with the Japanese automobile major, Suzuki Motor Corporation, few could resist writing off the company. Analysts felt the company would lag behind its rivals for want of technology, citing the failure of its bulky four-stroke scooter, Spectra.

Srinivasan remained unperturbed. He was sure that he had a winner in his research lab. His faith didn't fail as TVS Victor, which was still in an embryonic stage in 2000 prior to parting company with TVS Suzuki, turned around the fortunes of the company in the marketplace.

What is not well-known is the contribution of the total quality management (TQM) processes that had been put into practice in the early '90s that culminated in the company receiving the Deming medal.