Founder of the Madras Rubber Factory (MRF), K.M. Mammen Mappillai started off in 1946, with a toy balloon-manufacturing unit at Tiruvottiyur, Chennai. In 1952, he began manufacture of tread-rubber and MRF became market leader in this segment within four years. Buoyed by this success, MRF began manufacture of tyres in 1961. In 1964, the now-familiar corporate mascot – the MRF Muscleman, was launched. MRF was awarded the Visvesvaraiah Award for the Best Business House in South India and the Economic Times Harvard Business School Award for the Best Corporate Performance in 1989.
In 1993, K.M. Mammen Mappillai was awarded the Padmashri Award for his contribution to industry – the only industrialist from South India to be given this honour. In 1996, its Golden jubilee year, MRF’s turnover crossed Rs 20 billion.