Before Vivek Chaand Sehgal made a name for himself in the business of building car components and the craft of forging lucrative partnerships, he was toying with the idea of manufacturing plastic drinking straws.
It was the 1970s, a messy time of wax-paper straws that had a tendency to disintegrate. A young Sehgal reckoned he had the right product at the right time. Eventually, he decided otherwise and instead entered wire-making. There was some prodding from his father, a mining engineer with the government, who felt that wires and cables would fare better than straws.
But even in those early days, Sehgal’s ventures were all about strong family ties. His first business partner, for instance, was his mother. “Because my father was in the government, my mother and I started the company,” Sehgal, 61, said in an interview in his expansive Greater Noida office. There was also some funding for the business that came from his maternal grandfather.
Somewhat suitably, in 1975, the enterprise was christened Motherson.
In the over four decades since, Sehgal has taken the small wire company based in New Delhi and turned it into a giant automotive component maker with annual revenue of around $9 billion. The Samvardhana Motherson Group, as it’s now known, operates more than 230 facilities across 33 countries, with a workforce of over 100,000 people.
It’s a remarkable story of growth and gumption woven around Seghal’s unwavering focus on the automotive business, and his talent for sustaining partnerships with some of the world’s largest carmakers.