Adherence to Commitment: Vascon Engineers

Santosh Sundararajan
Mr. Santosh Sundararajan, CEO, Vascon Engineers, says "Within the company the concept or culture is to try to over exceed the commitment given to a customer" in an interaction with Varsha Trehan.

The name Vascon Engineers is synonymous with timely deliveries of projects. What is the motivation behind achieving this? Please tell us about the recognitions the company has received for various projects.
The motivation to complete any project at the earliest possible is two-fold. The first one, as for anybody, is getting the best profitability. The more we delay the project, the more it costs us. We would be killing ourselves in terms of profitability, if we delay the project delivery.

The second factor for Vascon Engineers is a higher consideration than just profitability or cost cutting. Within the company, the concept or culture is to try to exceed the commitment given to a customer. This is the underlying principle—adherence to commitment, whether it is quality, timelines or other interactions, as laid down by Mr Vasudevan, Managing Director, from the very beginning.

You could say we are ‘mandated’ to keep our commitments and deliver as long as the client keeps to their end of the agreement, in terms of payments and other considerations.

The company’s efforts have been recognized by, among others Construction Week Awards 2011 for Ruby Mills under Tower Project of the Year Category; One Earth Suzlon was awarded the Platinum LEED NC rating at Washington DC on April 29, 2010; BAI Award and Nasik Real Estate Landmark Awards 2012 for our residential project “Vista” in Nashik for Best Building of the year in Residential Category.

What is the current size of the company with industry’s sectors it covers and in which region?
Vascon Engineers
We have a staff of about 800 people, which is excluding the support, labor and supervisory hands on sites etc. We had a turnover of Rs.1000 crore in 2010-11 and Rs.750 crore in FY 2011-12.

We executed a wide range of projects across most industry verticals and have also covered pharmaceutical, hospitality, residential, commercial and shopping malls.

In geographical spread, we are in the NCR region and Himachal Pradesh in the North India. In the South, we have our footprint in Chennai, Hyderabad, Madurai & Coimbatore. In Maharashtra, we are present in most of the major cities. Pune is of course, home base so we have a strong presence there.

Are there any niche segments that the company specializes in?
We have gained a lot of experience in the design and build business model. Taking this further, we are working on the advantage gained with our expertise in design. We are now sharing this expertise as a third party, something that is extremely rare in the market.

Recently, the Indian Prime Minister announced the easing of rules for transfer of government owned land to speed up infrastructure projects. What are your reactions to this move?
Good, definitely good! There is an immense need for infrastructure development, and any support from the government is always welcome, especially as the fiscal policies are not keeping up.

However, we have to wait and see if further moves also offer support. Besides land, there are several other issues that need to be cleared before infrastructure development reaches the required pace. The government has to be serious and show the will to ensure infrastructure development.

What are some major infrastructure projects executed by your company across India? Please highlight some of the challenges and special achievements faced during these project executions.
A high percentage of our projects are executed through the private sector. We do have some major government turnkey projects in our portfolio.

The Multilevel Carpark, at the Delhi International Airport, is the largest in Asia. It was a Rs.250 crore design and build project for the government through GMR. This was completed in 12 months, way ahead of the Commonwealth Games. The engineering, the massive calculations and the execution in a tight time frame was a great challenge as we had the complete responsibility for the same. Also we were working in Delhi, which was a place away from the home ground. The completion was a matter of great pride for all of us.

The construction of the Legislative Assembly complex in Chennai was also one of our large projects under the earlier government in the state. It is almost 40% completed, but is now put on hold over administrative issues.

We have completed two small ESIC hospital projects in Chennai and are working on a larger one in Mumbai. That is about half way through and is expected to be completed in about one year.

What are some initiatives that the real estate sector can include in its processes to support 1) the environment and 2) the local infrastructure? How does Vascon Engineers address these issues in its projects like Nature Springs, Talegaon for instance?
As a company, we have always included environment-friendly practices like water conservation and recycling much before these were considered for gaining ratings. We are already ISO: 14000 certified. Ratings of course help at the marketing stage, but it should be a part of any process as it is ethically right. The importance of conserving the environment should be given right at the construction stage itself. Construction utilizes several materials like wood, water and diesel etc and processes need to be worked out for optimal utility. This is more about CSR than the awards and other recognition.

As far as taxing local infrastructure goes, let me point out a major contribution of the real estate sector. It is the developers who go to the outskirts; call it no man’s land, if you will. Unlike foreign countries, where the government plans and develops infrastructure, in India we develop the infrastructure, complete our projects and then the government steps in. We deal with all the uncertainties like getting water and power for construction.

Take an area like Kalyani Nagar in Pune where we developed the Marigold complex when there was not much else development there. Today, it is one of the elite areas of the city. We take pride to say that we are strong force in pushing infrastructure development where we develop our projects, as the government is forced to keep pace.

The most recent launch of Nature Springs is another case in point. Located on the outskirts, this eco-friendly development is expected to be completed in 5-7 years. We gained from our experience in Kalyani Nagar and went ahead in this area.

Windermere

Would you share your future plans for expansion and upcoming projects? Do these include setting up in any Tier II and Tier III cities or entering into the Affordable housing segment?
In terms of future plans, we already have a good amount in our order books. Our present projects like Nature Springs have to be completed and running on their own. We are already in Tier II cities like Coimbatore, Madurai, Nasik, Belgaum, Kolhapur, Thane and others.

In the affordable housing segment, we would work on a small scheme Nature’s Nest in Talegaon. Moving from the luxury and high end segment, we are taking this as a learning experience on a small scale before we consider expanding in that direction.
NBMCW October 2012
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