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4,000 L&T staff to run in Holck-Larsen's memory

Our Bureau

L&T "believes in the family thing ... . We are like a family. And, how many times do 5,000 of your own get together like that?"

Mumbai , July 2

WHEN over 4,000 of 7,000 employees of a company's unit show readiness to turn up on a Sunday to attempt a seven-kilometre marathon in memory of the company's erstwhile founder, it does speak something of the founder, of the company, or of both.

The majority of the 7,000 employees who work at Larsen & Toubro's Powai complex have enrolled for the run scheduled for July 4, the 97th birth anniversary of the company's Danish co-founder, Henning Holck-Larsen. The cause highlighted by the run will be `environment protection', something that was dear to Mr Holck-Larsen.

L&T officials say that the actual numbers of people who run that day might be much higher than 4,000, many employees' families, who have been invited, are being likely to participate. On account of the huge numbers that will be taking to the roads, the formalities of informing the police and the municipal authorities have been completed.

One reason for the turnout, say the officials, is that Mr Holck-Larsen was much loved and respected; when he died last year, many workers at L&T got themselves prints of the gentleman's picture from the company's Web site, to get them framed for their homes.

The other reason, says Mr A.M. Naik, Chairman and Managing Director of L&T, is that L&T "believes in the family thing ... . We are like a family. And, how many times do 5,000 of your own get together like that?" Mr Naik who will flag off the race, will himself run a symbolic 15-20 steps, he says.

Employees, who complete the run, will be recognised by certificates and other prizes.

Although Mr Holck-Larsen retired in 1976, he did return in 1990.

He would often wander about the works complexes of the company, shaking hands with the workers and asking after them.

"We have far exceeded his expectations of the company, he himself has told me that," said Mr Naik

Perhaps Mr Holck-Larsen's last formal act for the company was the signing of the papers that approved of the creation of the employees trust that will hold 15 per cent stake in the company.

"He was sick already... I took a lot of pains to explain to him that the trust is being created for the stability of the company, and he gave a mild smile, he only understood that something good is happening... ." said Mr Naik.

Apparently he always used to wonder whether L&T should give up cement or not, said Mr Naik.

"So I said I want to become one of the world's best engineering companies, we cannot have commodity business. It will have to go. Then he would say, `Yes, I think engineering is our core competence'.

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