M.L. Tandon

Chairman of Tandon Group

Manohar Lal Tandon is an Indian entrepreneur, business magnate and promoter known for his pioneering work in manufacturing and exporting computer hardware from India.


Education and Early Career

M.L. grew up in Punjab, India. He moved to the United States in 1960, and after earning a master’s degree in Engineering at Purdue University, started his career with in the development lab of IBM San Jose. While working with IBM and holding various senior positions, he also acquired an MBA from the Santa Clara University. In 1967, M.L. moved back to India to work with IBM India as head of exports, a role in which he was responsible for providing products to all IBM International locations as a measure to help reduce the deficit in the balance of payments in India at the time.

After IBM closed in late 1977, M.L. bought the IBM facility and provided employment to all IBM employees working in the manufacturing facilities to make cooking ranges and washing machines for the local market. He simultaneously started a facility in the Santacruz Electronics Export Processing Zone (SEEPZ) manufacturing floppy recording heads (technology completely unknown at that time in India) for exports to Tandon Magnetics, a company his brother, Sirjang Lal Tandon, incorporated in 1976.

For the first time in India, his companies manufactured and exported recording heads, floppy discs, hard disk drives and power supplies to leading computer companies such as IBM, Hitachi, Compaq and others.

M.L. also promoted and served as chairman and managing director for Tandon Motors Pvt. Ltd., Eastern Peripherals, Ultra Tek, Golden Computer Systems Inc., Tancom Electonics and Advance Technology Devices.

Indian Labour Pool

In the 1970s, entry-level assembly workers were typically male and manufacturing companies experienced high turnover rates as they searched for other career options. Tandon recognized women as an untapped pool of industrial talent, however, women could only legally work during the day shift. With the help of an NGO, Tandon was able to positively influence the High Court to allow women in the technology industry the right to work at night. As a result, Tandon Group became the largest employer of women in the tech sector from 1984 to 2000.

From Tandon Corporation to Tandon Group

Until 1985, Tandon Corporation was the sole supplier of floppy drives for IBM PCs, initially the same singlesided unit used in the TRS-80, and then the newer
double-sided TM-100-2.

Tandon became the world’s largest independent producer of disk drives for personal computers and word processors. In late 1982, Tandon was #1 in the disk-drive industry, and the company was named Forbes magazine’s “Up and Comer of the Year”.

In 2000, M.L. launched Celetronix India Pvt. Ltd., which became the flagship company of Tandon Group and India’s largest electronics manufacturing company. M.L. was chairman of Celetronix until 2006 when it was acquired by Jabil Circuit Inc. M.L. continues to serve as chairman and promoter for Tandon Group India.

Associations, Councils and Committees

M.L. is actively involved in improving trade and promoting export from India, spearheading several associations, councils and committees including:

  • Chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Computer Hardware, New Delhi
  • Chairman of Electronics and Software Export Promotion Council Sponsored by Ministry of Commerce
    now under the Ministry of IT and Communication, New Delhi
  • Chairman of Federation of Export Processing Zones Association in India (FEPZAI), Chennai
  • Chairman of Santacruz Electronic Export Manufacturers’ Association (SEEMA), Mumbai

Tandon Group

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