"JCB is a very strong brand in the Indian market today, probably the strongest in the construction equipment sector. We have dedicated engineering design centres in Ballabgarh and Pune facilities. Our engineers put in their expertise and the result is we keep improving our products after taking regular feedback from the customers. We have always focused on spreading our footprint across the country by entering into new territories. Our endeavor is to be as close to the customer as we can. JCB works in safe working conditions with the most stringent safety norms in place at its manufacturing facilities," says Mr. Vipin Sondhi, CEO & Managing Director, JCB India, in an interview with S.A.Faridi.
Recent months have witnessed JCB’s new initiatives in establishing new dealership facilities and outlets in different parts of the country, the latest being in Kolkata. How are these and existing ones proposed to be strengthened with measures at JCB’s end to render comprehensive end-to-end sales, technical and marketing services including brand promotion in their respective territories?
We have always focused on spreading our footprint across the country by entering into new territories. Our endeavor is to be as close to the customer as we can. In 2010, we appointed new dealers in strategic locations like North Gujarat, East UP, Far East in Nagaland and also in the islands of Andaman. Our dealers have continually invested in upgrading their facilities and increased their local reach by opening more outlets. These new dealerships and outlets are world-class and in line with JCB corporate standards. Like JCB, most of our dealerships are of family owned businesses. Hence there is a likeness in the way we work. JCB is a very strong brand in the market today, probably the strongest in the construction equipment sector. The dealers fully understand the importance of brand promotion and tirelessly work towards further improving JCB’s brand image.
Backhoe Loader is a flagship product of JCB. What are the number of units manufactured this year, their distinct advantages over others and the market share they enjoy?
Around 30 years ago, JCB entered into the Indian market with what was soon to become an industry changing machine. The inventors of the Backhoe had entered into India in style. The journey has today resulted in a world-class manufacturing facility – the biggest backhoe manufacturing plant in the world which produces 100 machines per day. JCB invested during the downturn because we had complete faith in the ability of the Indian market to bounce back and stage a speedy recovery. When recovery signs started ringing in, we were prepared for the upswing. We enjoy a large share of the backhoe market today. Our customers have placed immense faith in the product and we have tried our best to provide them with the best product and after sales services. That’s what years of India centric designing and continual improvement does to a product. Our focus is to hold on to the existing market shares and to march ahead not only in backhoes but also in other equipment from our range like Tracked Excavators, Vibratory Compactors, Wheeled Loaders and Liftall.
Market for Backhoe Loaders is growing fast in the country, simultaneously new variants with advanced technical attributes are being developed by many players making the competition very stiff. How optimistic JCB is to face this competition squarely and at the same time maintain price competitiveness on sustained basis with cost of production going up?
We have dedicated engineering design centres in both of our Ballabgarh and Pune facilities. Our engineers put in their expertise and the result is we keep improving our products taking feedback from the customers. Competition is active and we respect it. The potential seen in the market for construction equipment in India is attracting several local and foreign manufacturers to bring in their products. Our focus though, is getting better at what we do best. We have the best product range, best dealerships and best in class team to design, manufacture, market and service these machines.
A word about JCB training facilities. How these facilities are enabling JCB to bridge up gap between the demand and supply of new talents and trained operators in improving the productivity of the machines for better operational results?
We have four technical training centres, one each at Ballabgarh, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata. Our dealership service employees are trained in these on a regular basis, and updated on the product updates and technical servicing aspects on a theoretical as well as practical hands-on level. This helps them serve our customers better, and results in customer delight.
Apart from these, JCB also trains operators directly and through tie-ups with our dealers and Government bodies. Over 15,000 young men have been trained to efficiently and safely operate construction equipment. This also promotes employment among youth and increases productivity at construction sites with trained operators working on the machines. All training centres follow a rigorous curriculum which includes theoretical aspects of operating and maintaining the machines as well as practical training.
JCB places a great store on safe manufacturing operations and recently it has introduced safety shoes. How this introduction is yet another important step in promoting safety in manufacturing operations?
Following absolute safety in manufacturing is one of our prime endeavors. JCB works in safe working conditions with the most stringent safety norms in effect at its manufacturing facilities in Ballabgarh and Pune. JCB also believes in promoting safety at work sites in a big way. Introduction of safety shoes is an extension to our commitment towards this cause. These shoes are most suitable for both the shop floor and sites. The safety shoes are available with antistatic and oil resistant soles to provide excellent grip while moving in construction sites and other such hazard areas. These water resistant shoes meet Indian Standards and contain rust resistant epoxy coated steel toecap with protection against compression injury upto 200 joules.
We understand the importance of following global safety standards in India and will continue our efforts to try to make Indian factories and sites safer.
Having introduced important marketing initiatives and new products, how optimistic JCB is in its outlook on sales turnover in next two years?
We keep upgrading our existing products and entering into the market with new products in line with market requirements. As a rapidly developing country, India’s infrastructure needs as much of a boost as it can receive from the Government. With central and state governments focused on improving infrastructure, the market of construction equipment in India is set to grow. In a globalized economy, there are several factors which determine the performance of a country as was evident from the global downturn of 2008-09 which started from the west but spread across many sectors in India as well. However, on a macro scale our economy is stable which leads us to expect a good growth in the infrastructure sector in the coming decade.