Om Prakash Munjal, the founder and CEO of Hero Cycles, passed away yesterday at Ludhiana’s DMC hospital. He was 86.
Along with his three brothers, O.P.Munjal started a bicycle spare parts business in Amritsar In 1944. They renamed their company ‘Hero’ after moving to Ludhiana and set up India’s first bicycle manufacturing unit, recognising independent India’s need for faster mobility. By 1975, Hero had become the largest manufacturer of cycles in India and by 1986, with a production of over 18500 cycles a day, entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world.
Apart from bicycles, under Munjal’s leadership, Hero also tried their hand in the automotive sector. While their merger with Honda to sell two wheelers under the name of Hero Honda was successful, their talks with BMW reportedly fell through.
Mr.Munjal grew the company from a bicycle maker to an important industrial house. Apart from his professional work, he was also a noted philanthropist. He supported many hospitals and educational institutions across India. He also served as the president of the All India Cycle Manufacturers Association many times.
Many Indians, including me, had bicycles which were made by the Hero company. The joy we used to feel when cycling through the streets remains unmatched.Even today, in India, whenever someone says that we are going to buy a cycle, the word Hero immediately comes to mind.
Thank you Mr.Munjal for making our childhood all the more joyful. You will remain forever in our hearts and will be deeply missed.