Deshamanya A.Y.S. Gnanam, the life force behind Tokyo Cement, was a visionary who built a multi-billion rupee enterprise on the back of hard work and perseverance. He envisaged reaching out to communities by creating employment, contributing to national development and uplifting and empowering industry through Tokyo Cement.
Arulanandan Yesuvadiyan Samuel Gnanam was born in India on 5 May 1922, the youngest in a family of four. His parents migrated to Sri Lanka when he was ten years old. When he began his career during World War II buying and selling scrap iron, few would have thought that the young Gnanam was destined to become one of the country's most influential entrepreneurs. The end of the war was a significant turning point in local industry as Gnanam intiated a business expansion that would grow into a multi-billion rupee venture. His business portfolio reflects his varied interests and multiple acquisitions over a long and illustrious career.
A firm believer in determination and willpower as a means to achieve anything good and positive, he was the embodiment of good leadership, integrity in business and responsible citizenship. Gnanam first establish Ceylon Synthetic Textile Mills or Cyntex, the company that would help build his reputation as an industrialist. He then expanded his business to cover hardware, plastics, radios and radio spare parts and intiated Asian Cotton Mills. During his stint as chariman of the Textile Manufacturing Association, Gnanam campaigned for changes to government policy to uplift the local textile manufacturing industry. His farsighted entrepreneurship would create a conglomerate, that included Tokyo Cement, Sascon Knitting and Rhino Roofing Sheets.
His keen market insight and strong business acumen laid the foundation for Tokyo Cement, a modern, cohesive and confident company that has progressed through the years to become one of the country’s most respected and valued endeavours and an industry colossus. For his contribution to Sri Lankan industry Mr. Gnanam was awarded the national honour of Deshamanya.
The life of the late A.Y.S. Gnanam is an inspiring story of courage and perseverence and his many business achievements are only matched by his actions as a philanthropist. The self-taught industrialist, who subscribed to the belief that true value was actualised through people with a commitment to quality and service, Mr. Gnanam’s legacy of inspired leadership and the values he embodied will continue to be the driving force of enterprise and endeavour.