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"Read the shifting wind"

We should not rush into decisions and take things step-by-step.

Kushan Mitra | Print Edition: January 10, 2010

I learnt several things over the past few months. The first is that we should not rush into decisions and take things step-by-step. Our investments have to be related to our core businesses and that we should continue with our constant endeavour to cut costs and improve efficiency. But most importantly, this reminded me again, that we should not waste the good times and be always prepared for bad times.

I will use a Japanese analogy here: read the "wind". In the sense that we should know how the wind is shifting and what we can do to prepare for the change and take advantage of it. Our marketing is always close to the customer, because of which we can adapt our products to changing tastes.

India is a small car market, we all know that, but these days we can sense a movement by car consumers towards slightly bigger cars. We look at our competitors such as Hyundai and Honda and see what they are doing and we realise that we should also prepare ourselves in this segment. The Indian market is growing and it is not all about ultra-low cost cars. You cannot concentrate on only one segment.

The other lesson is to prepare for an upturn. If the market continues growing as it has been, we will need to expand our capacity to keep our 50 per cent share. So we will need to grow as well. The other day, I met Narendra Modi (Chief Minister of Gujarat) who was promising us land in Gujarat, but right now we already have 2.4 million square metres in Manesar (Haryana) and it makes business sense to fill up the land first. Our next step at Manesar is to build a second line, and that is under study and I hope the board will clear that investment soon.

Not all of it might be additional production as we are also trying to reduce pressure at our Gurgaon plant. In a downturn the incentive to improve becomes paramount but the biggest lesson we had was that you must constantly strive and if you know how to make yourself better even when times are very good, you should survive a downturn.

— Shinzo Nakanishi, 62, Managing Director, Maruti Suzuki

(As told to Kushan Mitra)

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