In 1974, one of India’s greatest post-Independence entrepreneurs Raunaq Singh acquired the license to operate a tyre company in Kerala. However, there was no factory. It was a company registered in name only. Apollo Tyres. Thanks to Onkar Singh Kanwar, Raunaq’s eldest son, Apollo is today one of India’s most successful automotive companies with a turnover in excess of $2 billion and factories across India and in Europe.This is the story, never told before, of how Onkar Singh Kanwar built Apollo from scratch and took it to the world stage. To do it, he had to combat strikes and union intimidation, the restrictions of the License Raj, politically motivated nationalization and near bankruptcy.
As if that was not enough, he also had to endure and survive a traumatic falling-out with the father he so admired. Never before has Onkar Kanwar spoken so openly or movingly about the father he still reveres and his regrets that life should have been so different from what he would have liked it to be.The Man Behind the Wheel recounts these dramatic events in compelling detail as Onkar Kanwar follows his steadfast vision to build not just a company, but also an industrial institution. For the first time Onkar Kanwar’s closest friends and colleagues have spoken about the triumphs and the setbacks that have shaped both his and the company’s life and times. His wife and family share their personal insights of the man who is at the hub and heart of their world and how his values as a Sikh, father, brother and husband have moulded him as an entrepreneur.
The Man Behind the Wheel is the insightful and exciting story of a highly successful company and its creator as he takes us on a journey through his early days in the US of the 1960s, importing and exporting in the pre-boom Middle East, to building factories in Vadodara and Chennai and further expansion to the Netherlands and Hungary with stop-offs in China and a highly charged courtroom battle in the United States.But tellingly, it is also the story of fathers and sons and of family dynasties and responsibilities played out against the backdrop of India’s first seventy years since Independence.