We have recently announced the finalization of our manufacturing plant location in SRI City, AP. This is an upcoming Industrial Township which is about 55 kms from Chennai, and thereby serves as a advantageous location, considering the port facilities as well. We would shortly commence the construction of the facilities. As far as the product is concerned, we are present in most of the range of Excavators which form the bulk of the market requirements. Our focus continues to be the penetration into each segment of the market.
Kobelco is regarded as ‘the Technology Brand’ in India and elsewhere. How does the company maintain such standards, particularly in India ?
In the present context, the important aspect of supporting high technology product is providing the appropriate level of technical field support. For this, we have concentrated our efforts on providing an extensive network of support points, through Dealer Outlets with a high quality of trained manpower across the country. To maintain hsigh quality Service levels, we have implemented the programmes which are followed by Kobelco worldwide. The Product Support activity has been led by a Technical Director from Kobelco Construction Machinery, Japan. With this experience available to us, we have maintained the position of a “Technology Brand supported by a Technology Oriented Team.”
Kobelco realizes that India is going to be one of the fastest emerging markets in the next decade. This market would certainly pick up the pace which China did in the late 90s onwards, and therefore we are planning to be a big player in India, like we are in the rest of the world. We have recently announced the finalization of our manufacturing plant location in SRI City, AP. We would shortly commence the construction of the facilities. Excon 2009 is happening at a very opportune moment and it would definitely rejuvenate the buyers interest, and therefore can give a small push to the market growth as well, says Mr. Vikram Sharma, President & CEO, Kobelco Construction Equipment India Pvt Ltd., in an interview with S.A.Faridi.
What category of construction equipment from Kobelco right now or in near future will be most demanding with country renewed focus on infrastructure development ?
As I have mentioned earlier, the range of products that we have already introduced, were selected with a clear understanding of the infrastructure development programme perspective in India. We feel that we are sufficiently equipped in terms of product range to meet the requirements in the coming years.
Personally, you are one of the keenest observers of the market. How different is marketing and promotion of construction equipment in India vis-à-vis in other countries ? How can the Indian marketing edge be sharpened ?
For marketing a CE product such as Excavators, it is important to understand the usage and applications, in detail. One of the aspects which differs India from many parts of the world, is the intensity of the usage of the equipment. We have observed that equipment are used for hours everyday, in comparison to countries in the Far East and Europe. In addition, certain operations are considered normal in India, while in other countries, another supporting or ancillary equipment would be utilized alongwith the main equipment to achieve the same end result. This usage coupled with the difficult working conditions of high temperature, dusty environment etc. in India, at times requires modifications in the equipment. It is therefore inevitable that marketing of these equipment requires a keener technical knowledge and field study experience, by the marketeers in India.
I feel that the promotional tools used in India are similar to those used in most other countries that I am familiar with. However, many of the marketing personnel in India suffer from price discounting phenomena. This tool is used rather frequently, and many a times without considering the long–term damages it perpetrates on the future positioning of the product. We therefore need to continue to focus on providing a package of product and productivity, rather than resorting to using pricing as a handy tool.
Where do you see Kobelco India in the next 2-3 years ?
Kobelco realizes that India is going to be one of the fastest emerging markets in the next decade. This market would certainly pick up the pace which China did in the late 90s onwards, and therefore we are planning to be a big player in India, like we are in the rest of the world. Our decision to set up local manufacturing facility is in that direction only, and we would continue to increase the range and the volume, as per the requirement of the market in the coming years. Technology translated into economy of operation and productivity, would continue to be our strength areas.
Kobelco is one of the most important sponsors of Excon. Do you think that with renewed focus on infrastructure development and the timing of Excon soon after the focus, the event would pep up the sagging market for construction equipment, products, and services?
The construction equipment and earthmoving industry is already seeing a sure revival of the market. It is expected that in the next financial year we be back to achievie would good growth rates. Excon 2009 is happening at a very opportune moment. It does bring the buyers to view the new product developments as well as the vast offerings, and helps them to fine tune the equipment planning in the immediate future. Excon would definitely rejuvenate the buyers interest, and therefore can give a small push to the market growth. The other positive aspect of Excon is that it is now generating a lot of interest amongst the companies and buyers outside India. In the past, we have seen that some of the vendors have gained even in the export markets through exhibiting in Excon, and now the equipment manufacturing has reached the maturity level to possibly derive similar benefits out of this exposition.