Q Since taking over the baton of Zamil India, how has been your journey so far?
A For me the journey has been truly fantastic. Although Zamil has been one of the top brands around the world, but, now we are considered to be amongst the top players in India as well, and that is a major achievement. We are in the process of enhancing the brand reach – from 13 cities we plan to expand to 24 cities across India – and this will give Zamil a far greater reach than before, which in itself is a big boost. As per the current trend, with the business sentiments going up, the inquiry generation is also on the upswing. We are quoting for around 5 lac tonnes and hope that with the quote conversion, even if we go by the integral factor of 2 percentage point rise, we will be sufficient to meet our budget.
Q What is your corporate vision for Zamil three years down the line?
A As a corporate vision, we already have our three-year plan in place and we need to grow almost five-times in this field. This five-fold growth will obviously not come from PEB alone, so we are augmenting our business. We are conducting a lot of pass-through transactions wherein if someone has a requirement, for example, a building with a glass cladding, they need not source the material involved from separate sources. We are also venturing into turnkey solutions as well. We plan to begin modestly for now, and if in the future, the payment settlement is good and the fund-flow is even, then we will venture into bigger projects.
We have already undertaken a study for the sandwich panel, though am not sure whether we will be actually investing in a facility. However, we are ready to buy out a facility in the long run, around 2016-2017; and that should be augmenting our business portfolio. We have already entered into the green buildings and the cold storage segments. As of the vision, we have decided to brand all of our products under Zamil, including the buyers and those sent to the market. So, the customer sees Zamil as the face of the whole building.
Q What are the certifications that you have acquired in recent times? What do these certifications, eventually, mean for a buyer?
A Recently, we have got ISO 14001 and ISO 18001 certifications. Basically, we have the total EMS plus Quality Certification in our portfolio. So, we have ISO 9001, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certification. None of the other steel fabrication units bear this level of certification. The certifications are, in essentiality, nothing but compliance to certain systems and procedures. In the coming days, more and more green norms will be implemented as legislation, so these certifications reiterate that we are not polluting the environment and are also taking care of the health and safety of our employees.
Q With the new government promising a lot, what are your expectations from them? Where do they need to pay heed to on an immediate basis?
A Firstly, the consumption needs to increase. The government is of the opinion that growth can happen only if the consumption goes up, otherwise the sentiments are so low that even if I have money, I will not spend it, I’ll postpone my purchasing. If you look at most of the services, for example, the manufacturing sector was not growing, as a result of which the ‘Make in India’ concept has been initiated. Consequently, business will be added in terms of newer areas rather than the automotive sector, but, different sectors will be opening up, and newer sectors such as food and beverages will have a 20 per cent year-on-year input. The Safaai Abhiyaan, despite the politics and controversy surrounding, did not bring about a change overnight. Instead, through this movement, the government was successful in driving home the point that waste cannot be injudiciously dumped as one pleases. In fact, as a result of this, state governments too are actively looking at waste management and exploring options to gainfully use of the waste in the form of fuel, energy, fertilizer, etc.
The first such project in India, came to us – the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd (KREDL). Such is the impact of a simple thought that can propel an entire chain of business. There will also be other segments that are likely to open up on account of the way the business will be conducted, retail will move on to become e-tail, but, the latter will always require a warehouse. With the new online shopping concepts that are now emerging, the ordering and delivering process is now compacted to as little as three hours.
Instead of the current infrastructure, there will be a need to install warehouses that are both, small and big, at certain intervals throughout a particular area. The warehousing segment, therefore, will become a lucrative area where Indian entrepreneurs will actually be investing a lot of space and money in. With the imminent arrival of GST, the tax structure is bound to change and a lot of new facilities will emerge in most parts of Central India, which was perennially underdeveloped. Overall, it seems that the growth will happen on a pan-India basis unlike before.
Q Zamil recently has set a benchmark in investing in different industries, attempting different projects. Which are the other untapped sectors that you wish to explore into?
A We have already broken the 50-metre height barrier and untapped segments in steel per se do not really exist. The challenge is not in fabrication or the design, but, in erection. At Zamil, we are trying to build a capability where we can erect structures with the proper erection methodology. If you consider on-site work from the aspect of safety, equipment availability, to trained manpower, there will always exist a learning curve, and the faster you overcome it, execute and deliver, it will be the key to being successful. In India, typically, a 10-storey building with 30-metre height will take three years to complete, but now the same timeline has to be shortened to about 10 months for execution. For a 30-storey building with 100-metre height, the time required for completion is almost 9 years, which is extremely unviable. The need of the hour, therefore, is to find ways and means to quicken the entire process.
Q How much emphasis do you lay on human resource? What initiatives are being taken up at Zamil India to retain the talent?
A As the leaders of the industry, I believe it is the right time to groom and bring in new people from outside the industry. If you look at our recruitment plan, we have stopped recruiting from other PEB industries or other fabrication industries. We are recruiting people from sectors that are not directly related to our kind of business, so that we can bring in a better talent pool in the industry. Our main aim is to keep the existing workforce happy and also try and induct new people in the system who are fresh from colleges, straight out of IIMs or engineering colleges and then groom them accordingly. With this, there will be new ideas that will come in the industry, which is the need of the hour. New ideas bring with it a new perspective that are a departure from normal thinking. It creates a platform for debate and ideation which will ultimately be beneficial to all.
Q Do you think there are some areas where we have a shortage of skillset as far as fabrication is concerned?
A These kind of problems are localized and area specific. The kind of skilled manpower required for a plant, especially in a place like Pune might be an issue. In Pune, primarily, people prefer the automobile sector which is a much lighter job. However, business is business and you will have to venture out, explore new avenues, tie-up with ITIs to get fresh manpower. We are sub-contracting our activities in a big way so that the customer does not suffer due to something we don’t have. In terms of skilled manpower from the point of view of workmen class, there is bound to be a shortage unless we train people for the skills we desire and this needs to be done at the village and block level. In a situation like this, the government needs to take the necessary steps and the Maharashtra Government is well on its way in this area. It is important to note that it is essential to train people from within the area, bring in locals, failing to do which will lead to the onrush of migratory labor which poses a bigger challenge in the long run.
Q According to you, what factors contribute to the growth of the fabrication industry?
A Once the government starts spending more money on the infrastructure, growth across all spheres is bound to happen. The concept of smart cities or new cities is an important step in this regard which will contribute to the overall growth of all industries. It is just a concept today, but, probably in 10 years’ time, the fruits of these efforts will be visible.
Q What message would you like to give to the younger lot of engineers and designers who look upon some of the renowned names in the industry as their role models?
A To them, I have only one thing to say: in the coming days, all the degrees and lessons learnt will not hold good for the next 40 years. You will have to make yourself relevant with the current trend at any given point of time. And this process of upgrading yourself has to happen continuously, where you adapt and reinvent yourself according to the situation.