A Passage to India

A local CEO talks shop with another “CEO”—the president



Most CEOs are inundated with invitations. But when an invite crosses your desk from the White House—as happened to Stuart Marwell, CEO of Mount Kisco-based Curtis Instruments—you figure out a way to rejigger your schedule. Marwell was one of eight top company executives invited to join President Obama in a roundtable discussion on US-Indian business relationships and cooperation during the president’s visit to India in November. Marwell was given two weeks’ notice to prepare for his trip to Mumbai. “Fortunately, I already had a visa,” he says.

Curtis Instruments supplies vehicle-control equipment and instrumentation for vehicles manufactured by India's Reva Electric Car Company. “We candidly discussed with the president ways in which the U.S. and Indian governments could improve trade relationships between the companies. When I introduced myself to him, the president said, ‘I’ve been reading about your company, and you guys are doing great work.’ That was a really nice validation.”

The 50-year-old company had been “in green technology long before the term was even invented,” says Marwell, whose company was co-founded by his late father. “Our early claim to fame was that we provided the instrumentation for the lunar roving vehicle, the lunar excursion module, and the ‘mother ship’ for NASA’s Apollo program—so we provided the instrumentation for the most famous electric vehicle of all, the moon buggie. I brought that up with the president. As I said to him, ‘We were involved with the space race, which was a competition among nations, and now, forty years later, we’re involved in the climate-change challenge, which requires a newfound cooperation among them.’”

Caption: Marwell, fourth from right at the right end of the table, at President Obama's roundtable in India.