What has been the business performance of Universal in the past three quarters of 2013 in this tough economic scenario?
Unversal is a multi-product, multi- location export oriented company. It is very tough to handle such scenario but in down times, it also plays a balancing role. Same happened in past 3 Quarters of 2013 where the high value & capital intensive sale went down but small & medium equipment sale balanced the same, Sale in Metros went down but it was balanced by Tier-II & Tier-III cities.
Similarly, having said that domestic market still went down below target but it was compensated by price realization of Exports.
Universal has been adding new products to its portfolio on regular interval despite slowdown; what has been the driving force and strategies behind these products addition?
Universal considers R&D as back bone of the company and always strive to develop new products. This has been a key factor & helped Universal to Stand in such slow- downs and tough times. Right in 1997 Universal developed equipment for Dams & Irrigation projects. In 2000, it developed equipment for roads, In 2008, it developed Heavy concrete & Material handling equipment. This new range of products improved the customer confidence, also moral of Universal team increased to face the slowdown.
Concrete manufacturing equipment has been the core of universal business; what prompt you to add tower crane into your products portfolio by entering into a distribution tie-up with German crane manufacturer Useter? And what has been the market response?
Universal has more than 5 product lines such as, Concreting, Materials handling, Compacting, Sand processing, Block Making etc. Universal went into Tower Cranes in the year 1999-2000 with German company. But the market was very immature during that period & certain circumstances forced us to move out of Tower Crane business.
Universal now wants to offer various vertical materials handling solution for its valuable customer & Tower crane is one of the products along with Passenger/ Materials Lift, See Saw lift, Mini lift etc. The response has been quite good as the product is robust, sturdy, heavy, and safe.
Localization of German designed Tower crane was also on company’s radar. What has been the progress so far in view of the impact of rupee devaluation?
Universal has taken forward the localization of Tower Crane in its agenda on priority. There, has been a big impact of Rupee devaluation on this Business.
The equipment market has reached at that critical point where key competitive differentiator would be after market and innovations; how are you looking on this aspect?
Innovations will always lead & it is absolutely essential in today’s world. Innovation for new products which are fuel / energy efficient, cost competitive, user-friendly are important aspects. Universal also feels deeper market reach as important aspect in today’s market / business.
Trained operators & technicians and preventive and periodical maintenance play a big role in equipment performance. Please brief us on your services.
India has a big challenge of scarcity of Trained manpower. The productivity of the Indian Technicians is as low as 20% to the Global standards. This has a impact on productivity and performance of the Machine, particularly high value capital equipment. Universal was the first to move in the industry to start operator training centre in 2007 with CIDC.
So far the company has trained more than 3,000 operators and has a target to train more than 1000 operators this FY.
What kind of growth do you expect in next two-three years for your company and innovative strategies to stave off toughening competition scenario?
Three years in today’s time is too long period to have a clear cut visibility of market. Though we have 3 years plan which indicates 20% year-on-year growth. We have gone through a situation in the 1st half of this FY which was not expected.
The 3rd & 4th quarter will be very important though we have the general election & there are very less signs of improvements which seem to be very temporary.
How are you planning to participate in CE industry mega event Excon to be held in Bangalore? What would be the focus of your projection in this mega show?
- EXCON has always been a great event for the Indian Construction Industry but somehow this time it seems to be very tough situation to handle due to market slowdown, Tight cash flows and tight liquidity. The Infrastructure sector has slowed down and there are very less signs of catching up even after EXCON.
- I hope the good monsoon and some good government strategies would come up to improve the market in the 2nd half after Diwali festival. Our focus will be on New products Launches where we will be displaying- Heavy Unique Concrete Batching Plants, Small mobile concrete solution, Vertical Material handling equipment, and Uniquely design Rock Breakers.