Sunday, August 9, 2015

Planter man

The slopes of the hills at Vagamon, in Kerala's Idukki district, were favoured by the British for cultivating tea. Among the several estates there was the Pasuparai Estate, covering a bit over 300 hectares. In 1925, these estates were bought from the British by Alfred Vedam Thomas, who took it as a challenge to prove that an Indian could be as good a planter as any of the Britishers. He must have been good at his work, for the company he founded, AV Thomas & Company has grown to be a diversified group today, with interests in varied sectors.

When young Thomas bought the plantation, it was part of the Madras Presidency and it was natural for the company to be headquartered at the city. Over time, the majority of AVT Group's plantation operations have moved to Kerala; the Group also runs factories for food ingredients and natural extracts in Kochi. The corporate office continues to be in Chennai, making this one of the few 'Malayalee' business groups in the city. 

This bust of AV Thomas is inside a conference hall in the corporate office. 124 years after his birth on this day, he continues to oversee the businesses that carry on in his name!

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