Mr. Sorab Agarwal
ACE is India’s leading Material Handling and Construction Equipment manufacturing company with a majority market share in Mobile Cranes and Tower Cranes segment. ACE has a consolidated presence in all major Infrastructure, Construction, Heavy Engineering and Industrial Projects across the country. Mr. Sorab Agarwal, Executive Director, Action Construction Equipment Ltd. in conversation with CE&CR, shares his views on the latest technologies, efficient sales and product support, the impact of COVID-19, among others.
Civil Engineering & Construction Review: ACE recently completed 25 years in the industry. Kindly describe ACE’s journey as India’s No. 1 crane manufacturer and its success mantra?
Sorab Agarwal: We completed our 25 years in the month of January, 2020 and the last 25 years have been full of hardwork, struggle and excitement, which eventually has us feeling very satisfied and proud.
The ACE team faced all odds and hardships over the years to only become stronger and better. A start-up in 1995, 25 years hence, we have made our mark as India’s No.1 Crane Manufacturing Company.
We started as a Pick n Carry Crane Company 25 years back but over the years, we have evolved into a major construction equipment player in the country and today, our range includes not only Nextgen Cranes but also Truck Cranes, Crawler Cranes, Tower Cranes, Loaders, Vibratory Rollers, Graders, Forklifts and Agriculture machinery.
The mantra of our success has been the tenacity, hardwork and dedication of our team members, coupled with our focus on satisfying the customers’ real needs along with our ability to offer the right product, at the right price, with the right service support. We also pride ourselves on our committed and honest relationships.
CE&CR: ACE is ‘Rugged, Dependable and Cost-Effective’. Please elaborate the statement.
Sorab Agarwal: Rugged, Dependable and Cost-Effective, these words themselves elaborate the strength of our products as well as our Company. All our products are designed for tough Indian operating conditions and ruggedness is an intrinsic design element. It has always been our endeavour to make dependable and reliable products. In fact, the culture of honesty, reliability and dependability permeates the culture of our company.
Value for Money would define the word ‘cost effective’ for us and we have always ensured to provide our customers with Value for Money products so that they are able to increase their productivity and profits by using ACE machines.
E&CR: ACE has a major focus on leveraging the digital platforms. How do you address the connectivity issues?
Sorab Agarwal: Every industry, every company and every individual is technologically and digitally engaged in the current times. Digital platforms are extremely effective and to some extent, indispensable for brand building. But we use them more so to make our internal processes more efficacious and transparent, and make decision-making real-time and quick.
To ensure effectiveness of different departments, we have evolved mobile apps. Even the machines today are connected with telematics wherever required and most of our branches and dealer network are also on DMS (Dealer Management System).
CE&CR: Tell us the role of R&D in indigenising the product to suit the Indian market conditions?
Sorab Agarwal: R&D has been one of the key elements in our success story and our in-house R&D Centre is duly approved by the Govt. of India. Over the years, speedy commercialisation of world class designs and technologies in our company, have been instrumental in making us the largest Crane Company in India.
Our R&D Centre has played a very significant role in the growth of our organisation over the last decade. The COVID months have given us an opportunity to focus, for the time being, on the Research and Development activities which involve design and development of new products, upgradation of existing products and VA/VE activities wherever possible.
CE&CR: How does the corporation define its CSR? Does the program engage and inspire the employees and customers?
Sorab Agarwal: Value your Customers, take care of your Employees and give back to Society is a deep-rooted mantra at ACE.
ACE has been involved in CSR activities even prior to the regulatory requirements as set up by the Government. In the year 2013, we set up a FREE – 24×7 Emergency Response Service catering to the Districts of Faridabad and Palwal with 15 strong fleet of Emergency Response Vehicles equipped with the latest and high-end life-saving medical equipment and a trained team of Doctors and Paramedics, stationed at various vantage locations. A dedicated Control Room setup at Faridabad ensures that this emergency service attends to calls swiftly, the vehicle reaching the site of need, usually in under 10 minutes.
CE&CR: Tell us about the challenges faced due to COVID-19. What is its impact on the construction equipment sector and overall economy?
Sorab Agarwal: COVID-19 has been an unprecedented event and we don’t think that ever in our lifetimes we would again be facing disruptions of this level. The entire country was put under lockdown leading to disruptions in earnings, production, supply chains and jobs all across the country. Restarting post lockdown was a challenge in itself keeping in mind all the necessary safety precautions and putting back the supply chain in order. Despite that, ACE was in a position to start operations by the end of lockdown 1 with much of its production setup and team in place. As always, we have taken the challenge in our stride.
The supply chains are not fully restored and there are sporadic breakups due to more lockdowns happening at the state/district levels in the country. The impact of the lockdown has come upon every industry from small to the extremely large in every sector. As per varied reports, our country may degrow anywhere from 4 to 9% in the current FY.
The construction equipment sector has also been affected adversely with practically nil revenue in the month of April. Revenues for the first quarter are likely to be down by around 60-70% for most of the companies. The demand scenario is still bleak, as most of the infrastructure and construction companies are still operating at 40-60% levels. The situation would start to improve post monsoon and we are hopeful things will start to look up in the 2nd half of current FY. We see that most of the construction equipment companies will have revenue de-growth in the range of 30-40%, if not more. Hopefully, the country would gather pace in the 2nd half of this year and we would be looking towards a brighter 2021.