|Mr. Santhosh M Prakash
Vice President (Product management),
Mapei Construction Products India Pvt. Ltd
Mapei manufactures chemical products for the building industry and their products have been used in thousands of projects all around the world, from large-scale projects to commercial spaces, from residential projects to works of public interest. Mr. Santhosh M Prakash, Vice President (Product management), Mapei Construction Products India Pvt. Ltd. in conversation with CE&CR, shares his views on the progress of the adhesives and sealants industry, the current trends in the market, the impact of COVID-19, and more.
Civil Engineering and Construction Review: Innovation in the construction chemicals sector is thriving. Which new technologies have been adopted in the adhesives and sealants segment?
Santhosh M Prakash: Innovation is about creating better ways to do things, as well as developing satisfying products or services. Quality products cut down the future renovation costs. Further, simple materials, especially for the retail market is very much necessary in this difficult time. For the same reason, Mapei has come up with ‘ETA – Easy to apply’ range of products for retail segment in easy to handle packaging. We have introduced a wide range of products which help the customer apply the product themselves with help of very basic tools. We launched our resilient adhesive segment last year and are expecting a good growth in the coming years. This is one area where we do not have any good quality products in the market meeting the international standards. We hope to upgrade the customer to use quality products.
CE&CR: People are inclined towards cheaper construction adhesive and sealant options over superior quality products. How do the companies with quality work survive in this mixed market?
Santhosh M Prakash: As you said it is a mixed feeling in the market, at Mapei, we always give priority to quality and service. Cost sometimes is the deciding factor, but people will realise later the importance of quality. We should always remember – ‘You buy cheaply, you pay dearly’. The initial cost might be less today, but when we look at the overall cost during the service life of structures, one would end up spending many times more in repairing the structures. Repair and rehabilitation is always a costly affair and we do not get always the 100% desired satisfaction and quality work. It is only a matter of time people will understand the importance of quality, and will come back – one should have patience and should wait for it.
CE&CR: How crucial is the availability of trained applicators in ensuring product benefits? What is the company’s approach to skill development?
Santhosh M Prakash: Applicators are very important for any kind of job applications. We produce materials which are actually the raw materials for the customers for their job site. Until and unless it is applied as finished goods in a proper way, it will be useless to the customer, no matter the quality of our product. For this reason, we have opened an Excellence Centre at our Vadodara factory – a-state-of-art training centre. At the Excellence Centre, we showcase the different systems, the right application methods, proper detailing required, etc. We give regular training to our applicators on new systems and products. It is very important for applicators to share their experience on the products and regular discussion programs are conducted to exchange the views and experience on different product segments. Onsite training programs are also conducted for site specific requirements and this would help them understand the job site conditions and requirements in a better way.
CE&CR: What are the factors driving demand for adhesives and sealants? What is the market share of adhesives and sealants in the construction chemicals segment?
|Santhosh M Prakash: We have just started marketing our sealants and this is not the moment to talk about the market share. Adhesives has a good share but there is a lot more to do. Still, the market trend is to use cement and sand, and we are fighting against the same. Resilient adhesive is a new segment, and there is a need to create awareness in the market at the moment. Given the situation, the products which meet the safety and health standards would be the one accepted in a longer run. Also, we need products that can be used/ applied in an easier and simpler way without requiring expensive tools and tackles. The product should be simple and yet robust.|
CE&CR: Do you perceive the entry of small scale industries in the specialized construction chemicals area as a threat?
Santhosh M Prakash: The more the number of companies in the market, the more it is good for business. Awareness on use of construction chemicals in India is very less compared to the other developed markets. Small scale industries will also help in creating awareness at the local levels and can only be advantage for the overall business. But, what is worrying is the lack of standards in India. This will lead to a sub-standard quality and a price war, which is not healthy for the business. We need some standards to be in place so that we bring out only quality product in the market.
CE&CR: What according to you will be the emerging trends in the construction chemicals industry, post COVID-19?
Santhosh M Prakash: It is too early to predict anything as we are still understanding how the market will shape up post COVID. Though we don’t see a very big change in near future, COVID has definitely has given us a big opportunity to go local and cut down on imports. We need more and more products to be manufactured locally.