#Happy Birthday CHM# CHM Birthday 21/11/2020 – Spl.Article by Vasan Suri

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#Happy Birthday CHM#

C – Charming, Conservative
H – Humane
M – Mind Blowing

I am whatever, I am. All credit goes to Tejoomals’ and it’s Directors.

Wishing CHM on his Birthday. Though he is not bodily present, he is present between us through all his deeds, motivation and inspiration.

In the last few days, the memories of CHM keep coming to me. Though, I spent very little time compared to the time, I spent with other HM’s, still he has left some everlasting impressions on me.

1. Our first meeting was at Pallavaram, Rainbow Tanners, where I joined in as a young boy of 18 years, in 1982. This meeting happened in 1984.

CHM had come on some vacation to India and was at the tannery to check on, as that was a new venture.

He gave me some numbers at Bangalore to check if Sathya Sai Baba, was there.

He was a ardent devotee of Sathya Sai and wanted to visit him. He wanted to make sure whether he was at Puttaparthi or Whitefield.

CHM’s sweet tongue and humble nature caught upon me. His looks reminded me of the Father of the Group, HTM.

He left me his name card, the typical Tejoomals’ card in Black and Red combination and names etched in Gold.

Interestingly, his name card had “Om Sairam” at the top. A rare phenomenon to see. That showed his Indianness and God Fearing nature.

2. Next meeting was in 1986, when we went to meet KMA Ghani. KMA Group was a big name those days and Madan, had this fancy of visiting big Groups those days using his proximity with PHM.

He took CHM and I was there for the meeting. CHM exchanged card and was having general talk.

Ghani known for his arrogance, started cleaning his teeth gaps with the name card of CHM.

CHM face turned red and he stood up from his seat and asked Ghani to return the name card and mentioned that, name card should not be treated as tooth pick.

Ghani realised his mistake and felt sorry and insisted in continuing the meeting.

Just to show off, he was talking about his tannery and production and about his shoe factory which produces about 1000pairs a day and how much could CHM buy.

CHM very politely mentioned that he sells 10,000 pairs per day. Ghani got a shock of his life and felt bad as to how stupid he was to judge.

3. December, 1987. Board meeting at Yelagiri Hills. All Brothers with family were present. It was supposed to be a Board meeting after such a major decisions to lease South East Tanning Company and takeover South East Footwear Ltd.,

Everyone was on a big oval shaped table and were asked to introduce themselves. Everyone should mention their names, qualifications and present position in Tejoomals’.

From Lakshman, Alex, Mohan, RKS, Shankar Sir, Devaji Rao, Pappu, Radha, Sundaram, TJN, Motwani,  Gulab Madnani of Agra and many others were there.

It was more a Jamboorie than a meeting as PHM used to mention at that time.

When my turn came, I mentioned my name and on qualification mentioned as PHM & MHM.

CHM started laughing loudly and said add RHM to it, as he is going to be the next Director in turn for South.

Later, during personal interaction with every executive, CHM found that having spoken to everyone in the Southern Region, I was the most informed and knowledgeable on every subject from Raw materials, production, stocks to taxes.

He proposed that, I should be made the head of the Southern Region and everyone agreed. He had a vision about me, which was already well prepared and promoted by PHM & MHM over the past few years.

4. May 1988, I went for the Leather show at Pirmasens. There was a little bit of misunderstanding on the dinner table.

CHM ordered some non-veg and I refused to eat as I was a veg. Godinho chirped in with his usual mischeavous statement that, I ate ham in the morning.

CHM thought, I was doing some ushari and started pestering me. Later, Mrs. CHM came to my rescue.

I would like to mention here about Mrs. CHM. Iron lady. Unbelievable she was. Single handedly she used to handle so many parties, food preparation, arranging, washing and preparing for next program with just one female help, she had.

Extraordinarily, amazing Lady she was. She will go to sleep so late and yet come to wake up us in the early morning, call for taxis and send us off to airports.

If we are staying there, she will give us Breakfast between 7.15-7.45am as we were to be at Office by 8am.

Inspite of all the hard work, she used to dress herself perfectly for the evening to be with CHM in matching attires for the Party.

The German people were all happy to see them that way and the Indians who lived there used to be surprised by the variety of foods in veg & non-veg including Indian Sweets.

Salute you Madame. All these incidents are fresh in my mind and I had a soft corner with her as I used to meet her Sister Mrs. Thadani at Chennai for some exchange of gifts and the opinion given about me by Alex Hentske, one of the earlier executives at German Office.

In Tejoomals’, the best part is they never taught, they performed and I got inspired and followed them.

From the above incidents, I learnt the following:

1. God is the Prime value and we are nothing.

2. Your name card is your identity, present it well.

3. Never allow anyone to insult you or your name card which is invaluable.

4. Be clear and expressive of your choice of food.

5. Select people by their caliber not by qualifications or experience. Attitude, caliber and attention to detail is important.

5. August 1989. Upon my insistence that, I should have another product line under my belt, PHM agreed and allowed me to start the Leather Garments Division.

I was participating in Koln fair, much against the likes of CHM. CHM was upset that, we are not performing well enough in footwear and why add up another product.

He asked me to go on my own and be at the fair and make business and he will not be able to give much attention.

The show was a flop as my inexperience was seen in the samples which were old styles except two suede jackets Blouson & Manfred styles.

I came back to Office after 3 days of exhibition without any results but, with experience & exposure, looking at other participants.

As look would have it, there was a sudden visitor who was a Turkish person, and was interested in Leather Jackets.

CHM jumped on to the opportunity and asked me to get out the best of the jackets.

From the exposure at the fair, I picked up the suede jackets and showed him and he selected the blouson and placed an order for 1000 jackets per color in 4 colors.

I could see CHM’s marketing capacity and capability next day at the Turkish Company Office and how he pushed his way through to get the confirmed order and spec sheets across the table.

6. September 1989, at Paris fair. CHM had a visitor from Deichmann and was to give him a gift. This was an elephant in Silver and Gold plated and packed in an ivory box.

How he presented the gift and how he changed his voice low and naive and created a life like size impression of the small elephant gift.

I was floored. I realised how a marketing is done even in presenting a gift.

On the way back at Dusseldorf, we were all at a restaurant and those days certain Germans cared less for Indians.

Having waited for sometime, with no one attending on us, CHM dropped the drinking glass on the floor.

At its breaking noise, all attention were on us. He excused himself for slipping the gas out of his hand and asked the waiter to take the order and if need be include the cost of the broken glass.

7. October, 1989. I was at the Munich Fair with the Leather Garments and CHM had fixed meeting at Metro and Karstadt, after the fair.

While we were on way to Metro for the meeting, we were delayed with some traffic jams and CHM called the concerned buyer and informed him about the delay and we should be late by 20 minutes.

Upon arrival at the meeting, the buyer asked how come we were there exactly in 20 minutes and how we called him. CHM said that, it was from his hand phone and since was on the Autobahn, was there on time.

The buyer was upset, as he being a German could not afford a handphone and an Indian supplier could have it.

This changed the course of the meeting but, CHM would not budge. He took it easily and said that, these things happen and all in the game.

8. At Karstadt. We presented all the leather jackets in the stands and the buyers made the selection of the jackets and gave us 30 minutes to be ready with the price.

CHM mentioned that, we have just 30 minutes and need to be right with the prices as they will either take or leave it. There is no third option.

We did our pricing and as the buyers came back, they selected two models with 20,000 waist coat order.

How CHM took us through the stores earlier and studied the prices and how he compared my costs and gave the right price, was a great marketing effort by perfection.

9. November, 1988. I was asked to go to Germany to understand about Pentachlorophenol, as they have banned it totally. Any product coming in with PCP presence after testing would be burnt off.

I reached Germany and with CHM, went to Siemens to learn about the machine (Gas chromotography) and understand the testing methods.

Earlier, MHM had briefed me about the various test reports giving various results and from different parts of leather.

Having grown with the Tejoomals’ Group, I picked up the points and made my observations to the Siemens team and after our meeting, they mentioned to CHM that I was very knowledgeable.

CHM was happy to note that he had a good team to back him up and mentioned to MHM.

10. Dusherra at Germany – Once I was given the job to carry the 10 headed Raavan, to Germany.

It was a rainy & windy night and on the way to the airport one head had blown off by the wind.

I was not aware and reached Germany. CHM was happy that Raavan head had arrived and he had arranged with buyers that they will hit and burn each of the Raavan’s head with bow & arrow.

The Germans used to be part of all these celebrations and they enjoyed the event and the lavish drink after that, followed by sumptuous, tasty indian food and choice of deserts.

Vinayak was a young boy and started counting the heads and alarmed that there were only 9 out of 10 heads.

CHM was quick to act and follow up with Mumbai and next day one head came up through the Lufthansa Air Hostess.

There was never a no or not possible with CHM & at Tejoomals’ and all these have impacted me.

Hospitality of CHM – This character of CHM was a class apart. Very special. After the party gets over, he gets in to attending his own people very privately.

Many of the type of alcohol, I got to know only with him. He used to explain each and every one of them he offers and makes us so comfortable.

Adding to that, will be the food. He always proved a point that one who loves good food & drinks, treats the others in the same way.

Always he had a charming smile and witty. Even, in his angry moments,  he used to have a lace of smile in the lips, ready to switch over.

Mrs. CHM, always took extra care as I had a fractured left hand and was against me in lifting anything heavy to assist her.

Great moments.

2018 March, I was at Dubai and had spoken to CHM for a meeting. Unfortunately, due to his busy schedule, could not meet and he asked me to meet Vinayak at Office.

Therein, I met Goutam and Vinayak for a brief talk and came back.

Learnings:

1. Put your head high always as an Indian.

2. Do business in your terms with all scheming and planning done well.

3. Take care of the guests the best way.

4. Never compromise in giving the best.

5. His dress sense.

6. Marketing Skills and Presentation.

7. Presenting gifts showing its value so that, the receiver cherishes it not for commercial value but for the love and care behind it.

To sum up, with such brief period of interaction and connection, I have had so much to write and I envy those who spent their lives with them.

Of course, for Mrs. CHM, Vinayak & kanchan, DIL & SIL and the grandkids, this is an unbearable loss.

I learnt many more of his character during the prayer meeting.

When Kanchan mentioned, how she was pushed to ask for help, everytime she shied away. Never shy away from “asking for what you want”. What a wonderful guiding phrase.

Vinayak’s friend mentioned about how CHM was handling a Blackberry when others would not have thought of it.

As PHM said, he was ahead of time always and even in his death, probably he went too early.

Om Shanti!

By Vasan .Suri

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