The most unlikely of bedfellows can come together in the business world. Consider this rather unusual "marriage".
The bride is the city of Detroit. We shouldn't be uncharitable to a bride, but the immediate words that come to mind when you mention Detroit are decay, dilapidated, joblessness, decline, etc etc. Can any good news come out of Detroit these days ?
The groom is Sakthi Group. Sakthi who ? - even my Indian readers are entitled to ask. It's an unknown, small conglomerate from the South of India. They were essentially a sugar company, but have dipped their fingers into a bewildering array of businesses. They are still small by global standards - some $2 bn in size. One of their businesses is Automotive Components - a business in which Indian companies have excelled and are starting to lead the world.
Sakthi announced a $ 31 m investment in a manufacturing facility in Detroit to make aluminium castings. GM and Ford are big customers for them and their logic for this investment is being close to customers. Of course they have milked the incentives and subsidies - some $4 m. But Sakthi has played the PR angle perfectly. The castings will substitute imports from China. The facility will create 650 jobs over 2 years. They have committed to hire at least 2 ex felons a month ( both a brilliant and a movingly human move). And the site they are developing is a historic school, now closed and left in ruins. Can there be a better feel good story ?
The sight of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, waving a casting, as he welcomed Sakthi makes interesting viewing. And the Sakthi's chairman calling the marriage a Catholic marriage (meaning, for the long term), is equally interesting Whether Sakthi will succeed in the most challenging location of all in the US remains to be seen. But you have to give it full marks for daring and boldness. It may fall flat on its face. But it will still have been an interesting experiment.
Meanwhile the American employees have to learn to pronounce Mukasi Pallagoundenpalayam ! That's where Sakthi's auto component headquarters is located in India. Even my good friend Sriram is going to struggle with that !