A saying reveals, “Some people are born with silver spoon”, but everyone will not get this privilege. While this advantageous “silver spoon” factor has determined the path in many energetic entrepreneurs’ life, there are stories of few others who have put their hearts out and broken that adage to succeed in the field. Here comes the story of an exceptionally talented, efficient and energetic Indian Engineer who has broken all odds against him and championed success in business and education.
I, Athapa Gounder Manickam, the younger son of Mr. Athapa Gounder was born in Palaypalayam village located in the dustbowl of Thiruchengode. Agriculture being my family’s occupation, I did not want to become a farmer who depend on the fickle rain; instead I determined to become a scientist in my early school days. If not I dreamt to seed clouds to bring artificial rain to help farmers. All my dreams were a mirage, but my interest and passion towards studies were not dropped down and I became an Electronics and Communication Engineering with Honors from one of India’s Premier Engineering Institutions. With my academic performance I stood 2nd in a class of 180 students. This made me become one of the beloved student of our college founder, Mr.G.R Damodaran.
He gave me many projects to do in my free time, which quenched my thirst for knowledge. As a result for all these efforts I was the one among few who got selected to get trained from G.D Naidu Radio training course. And I got opportunities to visit ECIL, BEL and Indian telephone industries for training. All these supported to gain better knowledge and innovative ideas.
In 1970, I had a chance to support my ITI seniors to develop a new model of telephone instrument which created a good impression with those engineers and they had promptly sent me an appointment letter at the time I completed my engineering degree, which put me on dilemma. Already I had a thought of not to work for anybody and I have to be on my own. I took this issue to my father, he insisted me to take up this job, but I persisted with my wish; eventually I won. In a way to promote my talents and churn out a right product I established MAK Controls in 1973 with the available capital of Rs.15,000/-, which I have saved through my college.
Since registering the company I passionately developed it from a small engineering enterprise to an extensive manufacturing set-up today and made it a force to reckon with all its field of products. To achieve this we have come a long way.
It was not that much easier to reach peaks in short span, I have came across many obstacles from my initial stage. With all my courage I found every obstacle as a stepping stone for my success. My first project was to design a ring frame machine to produce yarns. I produced the machine in a short time which was not only faster; it was more economical for mill owners. This got an excellent recognition among the textile industries. Here comes my progress with this success. Four decades later, I thought that still I have not reached the stage where I can help seed clouds. My resolution was deep in my heart and pushed me to develop a new technology. Moving from textile mills to Navy & Airforce started to design, develop and manufacture Aviation Ground Support Equipment and specific Electricals, Mechanical systems for various civil & defence projects at our facilities. Subsequently, I planned to broaden our service to the developed world markets and formed a joint venture in 1997 in Memphis, U.S.A, by the year 2000; this joint venture was converted to a wholly owned subsidiary of MAK controls and is now known as AIR+ MAK Industries Inc.
Other than my profession I actively participate in many benevolent and social activities. This promotes me in other dimensions as well.
Agriculturist : Managing Family Farm
I manage my family inherited profession farming and produce Turmeric, Peanut, Sugar cane, Rice, Coconut, and Groundnut in our farm of about 200 acres of land. Here I have used all modern techniques like drip irrigation and have capability to produce 3 crop-a-year.
Industrialist : Managing Director: Mak Group
Today Mak Controls is one of the largest Aircraft Ground Support Equipment manufacturers in India and around the world, holding all unique digital technology for this small but niche worldwide market. All products manufactured by Mak Controls are unique and no one makes in India. All these have been developed in the in-house R&D facility.
The following are the major products,
- Air Start Unit up to 400PPM for Aviation Industry suitable for Boeing, Air Bus, etc for customers in USA, Brazil, Malaysia etc.,
- Ground Power Unit up to 180KVA for Aviation Industry for customers like Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Egyptian Airlines etc.,
- Air Conditioning Unit for Aircraft up to 140TR for Aviation Industry and Defense application like Radar Cooling and also Liquid Cooling Unit of 400KW capacity for Radar Cooling.
- Power Sources for DRDO Laboratories for use in Radars, Akash Missile Projects and Medium Range Surface to AIR Missile Systems
- Zero Emission Battery Operated Apron Tractors for Aviation and Industrial applications.
Corporate Social Responsibility
I am having an immense interest to help agriculturists. I actively involved in combating pollution in India. I was instrumental to shut down a huge infrastructure of dyeing factories in Tirupur/India through a legal battle and brought a negotiated settlement between the affected public, the Government & the polluters and made them to pay significant compensation to the affected farmers.
I have planted 100,000 and above trees in Karur & Coimbatore to lend a hand to the world as a measure to reduce global warming. I have taken steps to clean Noyyal River & river bed, to keep the river alive in order to suit irrigation needs of farmers. I Initiated to build a check dam between Malayathal streams in TamilNadu to divert the seepage water to Orathupalayam Dam which irrigates more than 15,000 acres of farm lands.