27 July: Remembering Henning Holck-Larsen on his Punya Tithi

27 July: Remembering Henning Holck-Larsen on his Punya Tithi

Henning Holck-Larsen (4 July 1907 – 27 July 2003) was a Danish engineer and co-founder of Larsen & Toubro (L&T). In India, he is considered a pioneer of heavy industrial engineering. In addition to his enormous contribution to India’s technological modernization, Larsen is also well known for his policy of complementing industrialization with human development.

Early Life & Carrier

Henning Holck-Larsen studied at the University of Copenhagen (now the Technical University of Denmark). He came to India in 1937 as a chemical engineer working for F. L. Smidth & Co. of Copenhagen.

He started Larsen & Toubro in 1938 with his former schoolmate and colleague Søren Kristian Toubro. At a time when few Europeans realized India had industrial potential, Larsen and Toubro saw opportunities.

L&T represented Danish dairy equipment manufacturers at first. In World War II, Danish imports were restricted, so L&T had to start a small workshop for servicing and small jobs. L&T had to start manufacturing dairy equipment in-house after the German invasion of Denmark, which worked.

As a result of seeing an opportunity in ship repair during wartime, Larsen and Toubro formed Hilda Ltd. At the same time, they opened two repair shops. L&T got another chance when German engineers who were supposed to build a soda ash plant for Tatas were interned.

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Larsen and Toubro established Engineering Construction & Contracts (ECC) in 1944. Around this time, L&T began collaborating with international companies. The company signed an agreement with the Caterpillar Tractor Company of the United States for the marketing of earthmoving equipment in 1945. Furthermore, L&T began representing British manufacturers of equipment used to manufacture a variety of products, including biscuits, glass, hydrogenated oils, and soaps. L&T established offices in Calcutta, Madras, and New Delhi following the independence of India in 1947.Over the years, Larsen & Toubro has grown into a large company with diverse interests, becoming one of the most successful corporations in India.

Currently, L&T ranks 26th among India’s largest public limited companies.

Award and Legacy
  • Indian heavy industrial engineer Henning Holck Larsen won the 1976 Magasaysay Award for International Understanding.
  • In 1977, he was awarded with Knighthood from Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
  • In 2002, he got the Padma Bhushan
  • Indian Post issued a commemorative stamp on 12 June 2008 for Rs 5.00
Death and Immortality

He died on 27 July 2003 at the Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai. He was 96.

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