Mahindra USA Inc.
Mahindra USA Inc. (Mahindra), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (M&M), entered the U.S. market in 1994 and establishing its corporate headquarters in Tomball, Texas (a part of the Houston metropolitan area). “Mahindra Group is based in Mumbai, India, and employs over 144,000 people in more than 100 countries worldwide,” says Mani Iyer, president of Mahindra USA, who was appointed in 2009 by the head executive of the multinational group’s International operations. “The company operates in 18 key industries, from the farm equipment sector to aerospace.”
From army vehicles to major automobile manufacturing, M&M’s product line has greatly diversified since the end of World War II. Mahindra’s most popular product, however, is the tractor, and these tough, dependable vehicles are sold and serviced by hundreds of leading dealers throughout North America.
Mahindra USA now has three U.S. assembly plants, with a fourth assembly plant opening in August 2012, that deliver tractors to nearly 400 dealers in the U.S. and Canada – and that number is growing rapidly due to high dealer and customer satisfaction. This customer-first focus is part of Mahindra’s “Rise” philosophy, which encompasses three pillars: accepting no limits; employing alternative thinking; and driving positive change. This brand position is passionately embraced across all levels of the organization.
Iyer has been in the business for over two decades. He got started in India after obtaining his engineering degree at Mumbai University, followed shortly by a second degree in foreign trade. His experience working in international marketing throughout Southeast Asia and Europe led him to Mahindra, where he served as a department head managing product development, service and marketing operations. He has also served as vice president at Mahindra USA.
Even in a recent span of economic slowdown in the U.S., Mahindra has found growth and ranks in the top five North American companies in its market sector. According to Iyer, Mahindra won’t be slowing down anytime soon. “We have a five-year plan to become among the top three in North America by 2015, and we are well on our way to meeting that goal,” he declares.
The company has a global reputation for an enormous portfolio of equipment. Standard farm tractors are only the beginning. Mahindra offers a wide range of sizes, horsepower and specifications. The company also specializes in attachments and implements, allowing equipment to be used with everything from loaders and excavators to thrashers, mowers and snowblowers. A Mahindra tractor is versatile and serves the construction industry just as well as the agriculture industry and property owners.
Mahindra recently released a line of revolutionary sub- and mid-compact tractors, the Mahindra Max, ranging from 22 to 28 horsepower, offering increased performance in a compact footprint. “It’s a real tractor, unlike the glorified lawn and garden tractors you see on the market,” says Iyer, and the new Mahindra Max tractors have “caught fire in the market.” These machines are high performance and available with attachments and implements similar to the larger models, but are still small enough to fit in your garage.
Also promoting the company’s growth is its increased focus on financing offerings, which help get much-needed equipment into farmers’ and landowners’ hands, supporting both the American farming market’s recovery and increasing brand recognition and penetration. In the last few years Mahindra has managed to dodge a lot of economic hardship, despite a recession in the U.S., thanks to support from a stable and strong overseas parent company and some strategic adjustments on the home front. Success has not come without some transition, but the subsidiary is thriving. “We all have gone through some difficult challenges in the past few years,” recalls Iyer. “We have downsized and restructured our operations, but we’ve put a lot of focus on efficiency.” And the adjustments the company has made have paid off.
“The most impressive growth for Mahindra in the history of the last 15 to 16 years has been in the last two or three years,” says Iyer. “And that’s something amazing.”
Teamwork, talent and tactics improve the bottom line
With such impressive performance throughout a period of stretched budgets, Iyer looks forward to the future of this sustained venture. “Thankfully, the economy is coming back,” he observes. This, combined with strategic internal initiatives, could help push Mahindra into the North American tractor trifecta even faster. “We’ve launched a lot of new products, we have completed our product portfolio, and we’ve recruited a lot of new people recently at the managerial level, both on the strategic side as well as the operational side to take this company forward,” reveals Iyer.
Iyer puts great emphasis on the power of his team. The ability to adjust to tightened operations throughout the recession pales when compared to the record productivity and profitability his employees have brought to Mahindra’s North American operations. He is confident that their growth is reflected in the company’s progress. “We will continue to invest in our people,” he reinforces.
In addition, Mahindra maintains valued relationships with trusted partners that allow the company to make more-informed and better strategic decisions. For example, Mahindra has a long relationship with EDA, a key supplier and virtual member of the Mahindra team that provides data-driven market insight that helps Mahindra and its regional management that bring actionable sales and marketing leads to the table. The two companies have worked hand-in-hand on product launches, with EDA providing data, building targeted mailing lists, and recommending prelaunch marketing tactics to improve Mahindra’s market share.
“Our recent focus is with Mahindra dealer development managers, assessing top buyers and competitor market share,” says Tami Barré, customer experience account manager at EDA. “Mahindra uses this insight for growth opportunities, to develop territories and target competitors.
“Service-side development is Mahindra’s next big opportunity,” continues Barré. “EDA is helping predict inventory needs. Our data can drive specialized campaigns that push service and maintenance to equipment owners we’ve identified as potential long-term purchasers. We're an integral part of the effort to pull the sales side closer to the marketing side. And we value the relationship and trust that’s evolved along the way.”
Investing in people
Mahindra’s investment in people doesn’t end with the company’s business operations, either. The company sustains several philanthropic projects, including support for the arts, education and disaster relief for communities in the United States and worldwide.
Through the years, Mahindra has sponsored a college scholarship for recipients of the national FFA’s Women in Agriculture program. The “Women In Ag” Scholarship program recognizes the important role that women play in the future of the agricultural industry. The winners of these scholarships are determined in partnership with Future Farmers of America, an organization that provides resources for teens and young adults interested in agriculture. The recipients receive $2,500 towards tuition, books, and equipment needed for college classes.
Mahindra has pledged this year to donate $2 for every tractor sold to Operation Finally Home, an organization that provides custom-built, mortgage-free homes for disabled or severely wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers in the United States.Other recent endeavors include support for an urban renewal project in New Orleans: The Ninth Ward Maintenance Program. This program enlists local workers to clean up lots washed out and abandoned after Hurricane Katrina. From supporting Breast Cancer Awareness and “Race for Cure” programs to supporting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals, the list of worthy projects goes on and on.
Mahindra will continue to expand its reach in the U.S. in the near future. “We have three plants today,” says Iyer. “One of them is in California, our headquarters is in Houston, and we have one in Chattanooga, Tenn. Very soon we will open a fourth in Pennsylvania.”
By spreading out plants, Iyer believes the company will get closer not just to its dealers, but also to its customers. Mahindra – from executive management to retail – is committed to helping with initial sales, repairs and service; in fact, Mahindra has ranked number one in dealer satisfaction and has the highest customer satisfaction rating, 97 percent, in the industry. It is this neighborly attitude toward its communities and its customer base, combined with a dedication to superior performance and simplicity in business dealings, which makes Mahindra USA Inc., stand out among North American manufacturers.