ANUP JHAMTANI is the director of Jhamtani Group has been a dealer for the past three years.
"However my family has been in this business for over 30 years and I belong to the second generation in the same field," said Jhamtani. The company has grown vertically as well as horizontally in regards of the quantum of the business as well as the range of customers. "Initially the volumes were low and the client range was limited to local retailers and a few contractors. Most of the business until a few years back was only in trade, but then we expanded our business into non trade (ie, direct company billing ) to major builders and work only on commission basis as cement trading agents, said Jhamtani. The company's major clientele is in PimpriChinchwad, Talegaon, Chakan and Pune area. The company stock Birla Super OPC 53 grade cement and Birla Shakti - blended cement. When asked about the largest selling cement, Jhamtani said, "In trade, Birla Super 53 grade is by far the largest selling cement due to its brand value, strength and quick settling qualities. In non-trade, it is Vasvadatta 43 grade cement as it is well established with all major builders and has a huge market share in the non-trade business due to its efficient and uninterrupted supply and brand value". "OPC is generally more preferred over blended as OPC cement has high heat content and hence lesser settling time. Nowadays most of the sites use OPC for RCC work and blended for tiling, brickwork and plaster" said Jhamtani. When asked about the volatility in price, Jhamtani replied, "cement prices are highly market driven and directly proportional to the demand for the same in the market. Volatility does not affect sales much as there is no option to cement in construction industry. Just because the prices are high, no construction project gets halted or delayed. It is the climatic conditions (like monsoons) that affect the sale of cement & not its price. However when cement price reaches its maximum value that is over Rs 300 per bag it definitely increases our investment and reduces the profit margins as profit percentage does not increase with the price increase". The company's monthly dispatch is over 1000 tonnes in trade and over 5000 tonnes in non-trade. To improve sales, Jhamtani suggested, "better marketing, communication skills, wider knowledge base, continuous touch with customers and quick response to their enquiries". The better things, he expects from the manufacturers is "better margins to be given to traders as the current margins are very low as compared to other fields of trading like food grains, pipes, tiles, sanitary, etc. "In most cases where the order is 10 tonnes and above the company bears the transport from the railway wagons to the clients/builders/retailers' site/godown. However, if the order is of lesser quantity we have our own transport vehicles that take care of the delivery," said Jhamtani. About delays in toll nakas, Jhamtani said, "in recent past due to modern technological advances like computerised weigh brides, octroi receipts, etc the time required for clearing has comparatively been shortened, but a lot need to be done". The company has tie-ups with banks for cash credit facilities and has CC limits with co-operative banks at 15 per cent p a and with private/ nationalised banks at12.25 per cent p a. About Budget 2011-12, Jhamtani said, "As long as the consumer can afford cement at a exceptable price, ie, anywhere between Rs 225 to 300 the consumer is not bothered of the tax structure as all he cares about is the final price of cement to his pocket which has not changed considerably after the budget".