I t is always easy to take the elevator and reach the top floor, but chances are that you might miss out on lot of details. So isn’t it better to take the flight of steps for the first time, take rest on the landing, and keep on going, at least for the first phase of the journey? The elevator certainly takes one to the top in a singe go but also robs you of the learning experience. Moreover, you might not be prepared to reach the top floor suddenly!
Looking back at his journey since the inception of the company, Sulaiman Jamal, Managing Director, Bevel Gears India Pvt Ltd, recalls, “I started my business in January, 1976, with a modest turnover of about Rs 40,000 by manufacturing gears. For a young entrepreneur ambition overrides focus; the same happened to us. We wanted to project ourselves as a manufacturer of all kinds of gears. But with the passage of time we realised the importance of being focused and acquiring specialisation. Today, with a turnover in excess of Rs 20 crore and a task force of 120, we specialise only in bevel gears and bevel gear boxes. It is an interesting and complex mechanical engineering field that needs constant attention.”
According to Jamal, one has to have passion, a background in mechanical engineering and mathematics and, of course, machines for this business. He adds, “the machines are not made in India. The best machines come from the US and Germany. Our entire plant comprises Gleason bevel equipment made in the US. We improvise and update our technical capabilities in terms of knowledge and equipment every year. Good equipment and tremendous knowledge is a must to manufacture the best products. We make sure every year to inch a little higher in terms of equipment and practices by visiting the best factories worldwide, educating ourselves on the equipment used, following industry trends, technology innovations and enhancing our skills.”
Opining on the recessive trends, Jamal says, “an economic slowdown is the best time for an expansion especially for companies with a vision. Our company has grown in every recessionary phase. We never view recession as a dampener. Recession is a challenge almost like a treadmill test to know if you are in good nick. It is also a good time to acquire equipment at good prices and, last but not least, good talent that may not be available on a sunny day.”
Taking pride in serving a gamut of industries, Jamal remarks, “we serve a niche market in a wide range of sectors. We manufacture ground spiral bevel gears, straight bevels, hypoids, angular bevels and zerol gears. We provide one of the widest ranges of bevel gears by global standards ranging from 5 mm to 1000 mm. Markets served range from power tools on the smaller end of the spectrum, to ground spiral bevel gears for robotic and machine tool companies where high precision gears are used, to mining and shipping industries for the larger gears to name but a few. It requires a fine balance to manufacture bevels gears across this range as the gear cutting, heat treatment, material handling, and metrology pose challenges.”
With the onus on competing with companies worldwide, the group has recently started a 100 per cent export oriented (EOU) unit. The company also intends to launch a range of branded bevel gear boxes during 2009–2010. On the company’s business statistics, Jamal elaborates, “presently about 25 per cent of our group products are exported and 75 per cent are for the domestic market. Eventually, we will make the distribution to 50 per cent for exports and domestic markets respectively.” He further explains, “we will not reduce the supply of domestic market to balance the exports. This is the trend and will help us achieve a good mix; moreover a lot of domestic players are also exporters. At the end of the day visibility of our product in the market both domestic and global is important, hence this equation.” Talking of the various countries where Bevel Gears India does business, Jamal replies, “we supply to Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia and even the US. Lately, we have started exporting to South Africa.”
Partnerships & collaborations
Jamal clearly states, “we have no immediate intentions of collaborations but rather are seeking strategic alliances via informal partnerships if we can mutually benefit from that alliance. Partnerships are an option where technology transfers are possible. We are already working with European companies who also manufacture bevel gears and our endeavour is to complement each other’s range and strengths rather than compete. We are members of American Gears Manufacturer’s Association (AGMA) and share a wonderful working relationship and knowledge bank with them. We regularly participate at the Hannover Fairs and hope to become members of the European associations also. These associations and affiliations with overseas companies have raised the bar of our thinking and the quality of our product. We do not require financial partners as the Indian financial institutions are very supportive.”
According to Jamal, the company aims to surpass its own performances in the near future. He stresses, “we target to be a Rs 100 crore company within three years. With a turnover of Rs 100 crore I am targeting a profit of that of a Rs 400 crore turnover company.” Apart from sales performance, Jamal would also like to utilise his factory space more effectively and enhance productivity like the Japanese who think in terms of return per square foot. Speaking on the company’s R&D he says, “we will expand our R&D team especially to explore the aerospace and shipping sectors. Both these sectors require a great deal of inspection and quality control and are paper intensive. We will be manufacturing parts for the aerospace and shipping industries by the year 2011 and 2012 and are already talking to a few companies.”
Succession plan is an important subject especially in a family business – Jamal has three able and qualified next generation members already taking charge to take the company forward in the coming years. With premises, equipment, technology and personnel, Bevel Gears is geared for growth.
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