Sanmar Group Chairman N Sankar passes away

N Madhavan | | Updated on: Apr 17, 2022
N Shankar, Chairman, Sanmar Groups

N Shankar, Chairman, Sanmar Groups | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

The entrepreneur was known to be a tough task master who never compromised his values

“If you are in a cyclical business, make sure your head is above water (you are profitable) at the worst point in the cycle” said N Sankar, Chairman of Sanmar Group, when this writer asked him many years ago about one mantra every cyclical business should scrupulously follow. He was best placed to give this piece of advice as the fortunes of Chemplast Sanmar, the flagship company of the group which was into PVC business, depended a lot on the cyclical crude oil prices. True to his words, he ensured that the group handled the cycles the best.

Sankar, who passed away on Sunday aged 74, was a true friend, a good entrepreneur and a genuine human being. Any conversation with him would not only be about his business but would span politics, sports, ecology and social issues. He has also left his mark for the work he has done in promoting sports and social causes.

His emphasis on trust not only got him life long friends but also dozens of partners. Yes, if there was one Indian entrepreneur who built his business with joint ventures with international partners, it was Sankar. The group, over the years, was involved with as many as 30 joint ventures. Some of them, today, are as old as 25 to 40 years.

While he chose joint ventures to take the group into newer areas and access new technologies, Sankar was not afraid to go international, if need be alone. He made huge investments in Egypt to not only expand capacity but also reduce feedstock cost for Indian operations.

A tough task master, those who have worked under him say they have learnt a lot from him. Apart from managerial skills, they understood the importance of ethics and corporate governance from him. There were times when he refused to lower his values even at the cost of significant delays.

Even before professionalising the management became a byword in India, he formed Sanmar Group Corporate Board and separated ownership and management. He hired strong professionals to run the companies. When he realised that Chemplast Sanmar needed changes that could not be accomplished as a public listed company, he did not hesitate to take it private (it got re-listed recently). Even when it was private, he ensured the same level of corporate governance.

A chemical engineer from Illinois Institute of Technology, Sankar held office in several public bodies such as Assocham. He began to take a back seat after handing over the reins of the group to his son Vijay Sankar. He knew when to step back and today he leaves Sanmar group far stronger than when he joined Chemplast way back in 1967.

Published on April 17, 2022
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