Deepak Mehrotra was appointed Managing Director of Ashirvad on 5 July 2018, when Aliaxis acquired full ownership of the Indian company. He has taken the 2,200 Ashirvad employees on a successful journey of transition, building on the Aliaxis values and vision and laying the foundation for expanding the company’s leadership position in the Indian market.
Solid foundations for an ambitious future
“Empowering people, improving capabilities and optimising processes are the key building blocks in the growth story of Ashirvad,” says Deepak Mehrotra. Nine months after the transition of Ashirvad to the Aliaxis Group and his appointment as Managing Director, he looks back to this journey with satisfaction and pride.
“I have been working closely with the teams and with Sunil Banthiya (COO), who was appointed at the same time. Together we outlined a vision of where we want to go and who we want to be as a company, and we have related that to our employees, distributors, clients and stakeholders across the country. The response was very positive and encouraging. Our organisation thrives on growth, execution is our strength and our people relish challenges. Based on our communication, customers and distributors understand how well they will benefit from this transition.”
Premium market position
Over the past few years Ashirvad has created a strong position for itself in the Indian Plumbing and Agriculture Market with CPVC & uPVC Column Pipes and solutions. Ashirvad Agri and Casing Pipe are the two new offerings which are slowly strengthening Ashirvad’s position in the Indian market.
“The company has done very well in the past. We have a very strong connection with plumbers and installers, who see Ashirvad as the go-to brand for any solution in the building market.” Ashirvad has already established its visibility in agriculture, offering solutions for bore wells and drilling.
“These are the formidable pillars for pursuing growth opportunities for Aliaxis in the Indian industrial, agricultural and infrastructure markets,” explains Deepak Mehrotra.
“We have a very strong connection with plumbers and installers, who see Ashirvad as the go-to brand for any solution in the building market.”
Opportunities in Agriculture and Infrastructure
According to the Managing Director, irrigation provides a massive opportunity on the subcontinent: “The ever-growing population creates opportunities for food production, including improving agricultural yields and earnings for farmers. Water management plays an essential role in this story. So we ask ourselves: how can we make efficient irrigation available to all Indian farmers at an affordable price? The answer to this problem will be the micro-irrigation solutions from the global Aliaxis portfolio.”
“There are also interesting infrastructure challenges in India such as rural sanitation,” continues Deepak Mehrotra. “Public sanitation in India’s rural areas remains underdeveloped. We want to find an innovative solution to provide sanitation systems at an affordable cost.”
Rainwater management is another area where Ashirvad could play an important role in the future. India is known for its monsoon season with four months of continuous rainfall. The rest of the year is mostly dry. “Our country has limited infrastructure capacity for managing such large volumes of rainfall in a short period of time. Since we are working together with the global Aliaxis R&D teams and learning from innovative solutions in other regions like Australia and New Zealand, we should be able to offer new systems that meet the needs of normal households in India.”
The possibility to offer a broader and more global product portfolio is just one of the advantages of being part of a global industrial group. “We can now also learn from best practices in other regions,” confirms Deepak Mehrotra
Connecting with customers
To demonstrate the possibilities of the global Aliaxis product offering, the Ashirvad team organised a national distributors meeting in October 2018. “We invited our key distributors to Goa, to showcase products coming from different companies in the Aliaxis Group in an area covering 2,500 square feet. While walking around the Aliaxis exhibition stands showing plastic piping solutions from all our divisions in various segments, our distributors were very excited with our company offering, as they saw the opportunities for their own growth.”
The possibility to offer a broader and more global product portfolio is just one of the advantages of being part of a global industrial group. “We can now also learn from best practices in other regions,” confirms Deepak Mehrotra.
“Our team has just completed visits to Costa Rica and Canada. There is much we can pick up from the teams there. In Canada, for example, IPEX sets the standard on specification sales in the infrastructure market. The team in Costa Rica also offers a great service and solutions model.”
Expansion in the North
During the transition period, Ashirvad managed to maintain sustainable growth. To meet the increasing demand in the north and west of India, the company opened a new factory in the north of the country at the beginning of 2018.
“We inaugurated this new manufacturing plant in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan on 17 January. This was an important milestone for the company, as, previously, we were only present in the South with two operational units. The new factory allows us to be closer to our distributors in the northern region and to offer better service at lower cost, which translates into higher sales and market opportunities. After one year, we have already consumed the entire capacity of the first phase of the facility. The construction of the second phase is already under way and will become operational during 2019.”
Towards one more Ashirvad by 2022
The Managing Director’s priority for the coming year is to establish a high level of proficiency in managing people, capabilities and processes within the company. “These are the cornerstones of the plan. Investing in the right kind of capability for our company will enable our growth. If we manage to reach a high level of competence in these building blocks within the next year, good figures will follow.”
“It is all about implementing the global Aliaxis culture throughout the whole organisation: creating the best place to work by implementing a new mind-set around health and safety, optimising operations and creating a long-term partnership with our customers.”
In order to visualise the path of the company, the team has set the symbolic target of creating ‘one more’ Ashirvad in the next four years. “We have communicated the ‘+1 in 2022’ idea to all our distributors and every employee,” says Deepak Mehrotra. “It is a significant stretch. But it is an inspiring aspiration to go after.”
“It was most interesting to see how services could be bundled around core products and how we reached full solutions that would allow us to move up the value chain. Our business is all about building a sustainable and long-lasting relationship with our customers. We want to stay connected with them during the life cycle of our products.”