Dr Sanjay Bahadur
Global CEO, Construction Chemicals Division
ICR interacted with Dr Sanjay Bahadur, Global CEO, Construction Chemicals Division of Pidilite Industries, to know about the evolving customer focus of Pidilite.
The company seems to be moving from product selling approach to system selling philosophy. Is this a planned shift, and if so, what is prompting the company in this new direction?
Yes, this is planned shift and Pidilite will continue with this approach in its future endeavours. We know that it is the whole system that performs and not just an individual product. A system starts with selection of the right product, preparation of the treatment platform and then applying the solution in the right way, in an established scientific manner. Any deviation from this compromises the waterproofing process. Often those who are untrained in applying such solutions miss out on the crucial steps and end up being unsatisfied with the product. Most often it is the system of application, and not the product itself, which is at fault. We want our consumers to get the best value for their investments and so we are providing the solution in the form of a service, where we do the waterproofing for our clients. We are so confident of our system that it comes with a guarantee card that promises leak free performance for 25 years. We have also set up training centres to train masons, architects, contractors, etc., in waterproofing to ensure that the products are applied properly.
So is your focus now on developing new systems rather than products?
We are looking at development of new systems, which are what we call-¦idiot-proof-¦ For example, LEC Extensa, a product for waterproofing used for rooftops. You just have to spray it properly and you are done. So we are focusing more on innovative applications than on developing a new compound altogether.
Tell us more about the training centre?
We have set up Dr Fixit Knowledge Centre at Kochi where we demonstrate how to carry out waterproofing properly, and where exactly most engineers go wrong with it. It is a place to learn new things for architects and engineers. Here we give them practical training on dealing with real life challenges in construction. The response has been very good and we are planning to open more of such centres in other cities too.
You are also working on a project to build solar powered sustainable homes. Please tell us more about it.
We are working on LEC (Low Energy Consumption) range of products that provide good insulation along with good waterproofing. And using our products we have built a few houses as a part of our R&D process. We have collected a range of data from these structures to validate the theory with the actual performance. The data is very exciting. The cooling attained in these houses is so good that the power consumed by ACs in such houses is reduced by 55 to 60 per cent. This is well-established data, which is thoroughly validated.
Just imagine the implications of these products. We have been talking about solar powered off-grid homes for so long. But to make the home really off-grid we need to install large solar panels. These panels are so expensive, that it offsets the savings made with the capital required in the beginning. Although, the cost of panels has come down, there is still a gap to fill in. I think one way to bridge this gap is to look at other technologies available with us today. With insulation given by our LEC products we can reduce the electricity consumption of ACs by 55-60 per cent. That suddenly makes solar powered homes a possibility, since the size of the solar panel and the capital cost required is reduced. As the energy requirement is low, the house can be taken off-grid.
So who are your target customers for these products?
We are focusing on the villa segment. When people are spending 1 to 2 crore on the villa, they might as well invest few lakh more and get the villa waterproofed and insulated with LEC products. This small investment pays well and villa owners understand and appreciate this. We have recently secured an order for 164 villas in Bangalore.
We understand that the government does not have any compulsion on using construction chemicals in the infrastructure projects. Is the construction chemicals industry losing this market?
There is no compulsion from the government for using construction chemicals, but recently (Feb 2014) CPWD (Central Public Works Department) has introduced a regulation that all buildings must comply with ECBC (Energy Conservation Building Code). That creates a market for construction chemicals like LW+.
What would be the growth drivers for the construction chemicals industry in India?
If you look at the mega-trends in the industry you will notice that the builders and developers sector is getting organised. So we will have consumers that are technologically aware. Space constrains will be pushing us toward high-rises and more and more consumers will be demanding sustainable homes. All this will be creating a strong demand for construction chemicals.