Are we not too much obsessed with discussions on the fall of rupee, current account deficit, external borrowings which no doubt are important issues, but don’t you think the need of the hour is to focus on productive growth, rejuvenating of supply and demand to offset some of these problems which are more driven by speculations. As one of the important captains of the industry; what is your candid view on this?
To some extent, I do agree that we are quite obsessed with the fall in rupee, current account deficit and so on, which are repercussions of matters not falling within the internal growth of the economy. Our only way to counter the fall in rupee which is a by-product of current account deficit is, to reduce our dependence on imports by indigenizing to the maximum extent possible. We should not tweak around with our fiscal policies and bank rates too much, to arrest the fall in rupee etc., which should be allowed to behave the way it should, based on market forces. Tweaking around with fiscal policies and bank rates will have aftermaths which could be seriously thwarting the prospects of growth.
Has the fall of rupee disturbed the business or technical performance of Schwing Stetter during this year?
The fall of rupee has definitely affected the bottom line of Schwing Stetter India because there are many components which are still being imported by us and their costs have gone up substantially. Whereas on the positive side, this has forced us to speed-up our process of indigenization.
Following XCMG acquiring stake in SS, what is the new business matrix worked out? How well it is promoting the synergies between the two companies?
Undoubtedly, XCMG’s investment in Schwing Stetter Group has brought in great synergy between the two companies. Schwing Stetter Group has now access to very wide range of construction equipment. The partnership itself is in its initial stage of integration and it will take some more time for us to come out with concrete steps towards expanding our products range.
In the last CE industry mega event, SS unveiled 6 exclusive products for the Indian market. What has been the market response so far?
Majority of the products are receiving positive response from the market. However, unfortunately the market itself is sluggish at the moment with very low demand for such high quality, state-of-the-art products. We are hoping that soon, the infrastructure projects will be rolled out and these products will definitely attract good business.
Do you think that the coming winter is going to be a harsh winter for CE market in the country or perhaps the spring time might spring up market improvements for it?
It depends on what actions the current government will take in the next couple of months before the official election dates are declared. We have the mega CE fair Excon in November in Bangalore where as usual, we are participating in a big way. We have seen over the years that always, business starts booming immediately after the Excon fair. So we are quite hopeful that this Excon also will bring momentum in business for the CE industry.
How is SS empowering its employees/customers with new technical knowledge and expertise through its Training Centers? How many beneficiaries have gone through the portal of the unique Training Centers so far?
We strongly believe that training our own employees as well as the operators and technicians of our customers on the state-of-the-art products that we produce is extremely important. Thus, the operators and maintenance technicians substantially improve the performance of our equipment and also keep the operating expenses lowest. Therefore, we are putting a lot of thrust on training and development. Earlier, we had our training centre only in Chennai. But in the last couple of years, we have opened new training centres in Delhi and Kolkata too. We are in the process of acquiring land in few more locations where we will have full-fledged training centres as well as service centres. So far, we have trained more than 8000 people for short-term course in concrete pumps as well as batching plants. We have also trained more than 600 operators. These operators are sponsored by companies who use our equipment. In the last couple of years, we have seen that many people are directly enrolling themselves to the operator training courses and before finishing their course, we are able to find employment for them with our customers. Many such trained operators have also gone abroad to countries like Libya, Kenya, Muscat, Afghanistan, Oman, and Maldives.
How is SS programme of repair, overhauling, and reconditioning proceeding? What has been users’ response to this facility?
Here again, we strongly believe that an authorized service centre for repairing, overhauling and re-conditioning of all our equipment are extremely essential to support our customers. Most customers prefer to get their equipment repaired only at authorized service centres. Similar to the automobile industry, it is only when such authorized service centres are not available, do the construction equipment owners look for grey-market parts and road side mechanics to repair their equipment. We would like to expand our service centres pan India to offer repair, overhauling service and supply of genuine spare parts for our equipment. We already have 26 spares depot and 7 service centres across India. Wherever service centres are not available, onsite service is provided by us.
As usual, we are participating in Excon 2013 in a big way. We are of course planning to introduce some new products and many improvements in our existing products. We invite you to visit our stall to see our latest developments.