Universal Construction aims to be strong in concrete equipment sector“We are the company which has got the best of infrastructure in terms of manufacturing excellence and product knowledge,” asserts K. Sunil Kumar, President and CEO, Universal Construction Machinery
Universal Construction Machinery is such rare company which isn’t affected in the economic downturn. The company is strengthening its position by exporting to Middle-East, Africa and Brazil. In an exclusive interview with Subhajit Roy, K. Sunil Kumar shares Universal’s future plan and present market position.
What is your take on the industry performance as well as performance of the Universal Construction?Honestly from the industry stand point of view, there are lots of concerns at this point. Basically, growth has become an issue for us. As far as our industry is concerned, we basically need two sectors: infrastructure and real estate. Today both these sectors are really struggling for growth. To that extent, we are also affected. But from the Universal’s point of view, we are the only company who caters to such a large gamut of contracting fraternity. With our large variety of products, we cater to the requirement of small contractors, mid-size reality sector as well as large infrastructure projects, which is a good synergy.
Today the problem is that the sentiment gets affected very badly due to delay in project clearances. If we look at the ground reality, none of the infrastructure projects are getting clearance. However, this cannot go on for long. We have to clear the bottlenecks whether it is the project clearance time or the land acquisition. I’m sure our committee on infrastructure from the government is looking at this seriously, and we are getting the signals of our projects getting cleared. Once these projects are getting cleared, you will see a lot of activities. Therefore, we are quite optimistic about the future.
Brazil is aggressively increasing its infrastructure activities. Is that the reason Universal Construction is increasing its footprint in Brazil?Apart from the opportunity of export in the Middle-East and African markets, there are emerging opportunities in South America and countries like Brazil. We are exploring all these opportunities. In Africa, we are already exporting through Tata International for long time. Essentially, all these countries use products which are similar to us. We feel we can create values in terms for whole, value-for-money concept. That’s what we are doing in Africa, and we are getting a fantastic response from that. We are sure we will do the same thing in Brazil shortly. We expect a substantial portion of the turnover to contribute by our international operations.
Don’t you find it difficult to place your products in international markets?Not really! Some of the countries follow the same use pattern as we do; the requirements of equipment are almost same. The pattern of development across these countries is quite similar to India, so it becomes easier for us to position our products.
Also, we are the company which has got the best of infrastructure in terms of manufacturing excellence and product knowledge. Having experience of more than 30 years in manufacturing of construction equipment, we are offering products similar to the requirement terms in those countries. In addition, we are able to position our product in terms of value proposition, cost-efficiency and better utility. Of course, our knowledge and customer interaction on those markets must improve. We must sure our machines are always operational and 24/7 availability in terms of service support. That’s the reason we are strengthening our international operations.
What is your market share in terms of export?Currently, exports contribute to 10-12 per cent of our turnover, and our middle term target is to enhance this contribution to at least 20 per cent.
Apart from expanding your export market, what are the others strategies you have that will give leverage during this challenging time?So far, we are quite strong in mid segment. Now, apart from consolidating our portion in the mid segment, our priority is to have a good position in the high-capacity segment. We are also looking at introducing a couple of new products in the material handling segment with a tie-up with a reputed Chinese brand.
We have also tied up with Italian manufacture called Socomec for breakers. Our strategy is to be very strong in the concrete equipment sector as well as earthmoving sector.