The Right Fit
Jayashree Kini Mendes
In India and for Indians specifically, news of a new manufacturing plant always spells good news. Obvious reasons are employment generation, a push in economic development, and, of course, the possibility of introducing new products in the market. Even more advantageous is when a German company that has for long been selling products in India decides to set up manufacturing operations in India. I never tire of saying this, but Germans come with a strong manufacturing background and any country they go benefit from their precision and superior quality products. Manufacturing is in their bloodline.
So when Viega, who for long has been selling its plumbing and heating products in India, decided to open its first manufacturing facility in the country, it did create some kind of excitement. Moreover the new plant being set up is in Sanand, Gujarat, which is soon turning as the latest hub for manufacturing in the country. Sanand was a sleepy town before Maruti Suzuki, Ford India, Tata Motors, Bosch Rexroth, Nestle, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, Posco, among others, began setting up operations in the state.
Globally, Viega is already a popular brand name. In India, for long the company maintained some kind of exclusivity and had to compete with a host of other brand names. But all that is set to change. Speaking at the inauguration of the plant, Claus Holst-Gydesen, CEO, Viega, said, “We are delighted about yet another milestone in the history of a company that has strong traditions in Germany, but is still young and growing in India. Twelve years ago (in 2005) Viega started its first sales in India via a sales partner. Four years later, we established our first sales office in Gurgaon. As our sales grew we expanded into Mumbai through the sales office and in 2015 set up the foundation of the Viega branch office in Ahmedabad. This initiated one of the most important investments for Viega in a country that is growing and is very promising for our future. It is what has led to the combination of forming Viega’s integrated facilities here in Sanand.”
The facility aims to cater to the local demands for the company’s products — which are in categories of piping system as well as draining and flushing technology — and serve the local market needs.
The Sanand manufacturing facility is built on a 16-acre site with approximately €20 million (Rs 160 crore) investment. The factory can be expanded to another 400,000 sq-ft, leaving a lot of potential for growth as the business grows. To start with, the company will manufacture floor drains and toilet cisterns from the Sanand plant.
MAKING A MARK
A large part of the facility has been built to make products that are designed to German standards while manufacturing focuses on safe quality standards. The reason Viega calls it an integrated facility is because it also has a logistics centre that will cater to the needs of its customers and provide products just-in-time.
“We also have a research and development centre here that will localise products for the Indian market. Viega wants to and will become in India what it is already internationally renowned for, a company that innovates and provides leading innovating products in the plumbing and heating industry,” said Manoj Maithani, VP, sales & marketing, Viega India.
He added that, going forward, Viega India will also export to countries in South East Asia and West Asia.
He added, “The three products categories that we operate in (piping systems, drainage systems and the pre-wall systems), are low involvement products for end customer. That’s the opportunity for us. If you look at piping, about 85% is CPVC, which are not expensive. We see a huge opportunity in terms of upgradation, which deliver leakage-free solutions for a lifetime.”
The company has a production line for its plumbing products, which are being ramped up for local production of drainage and cistern articles along with well-equipped quality parameters, true to Viega’s mission of quality. In addition in the current phase it also has offices and canteen and other employee facilities that is going to make it a very gracious facility for all its colleagues.
Besides all the planned arrangements, Viega India has also integrated into this overall complex a seminar centre that they call as an experience centre. The idea is to provide training to all of its customers and plumbing partners. “We teach training courses here that will pass on the latest specials product knowledge to our plumbing partners, contractors and dealers distributors. There is, of course, a more local positive aspect to this entire factory which is to create jobs locally,” says Anna Viegener, chief strategy officer and Viega shareholder.
Speaking about taking Make in India forward, Maithani said, “Make in India is not only the eponymous Indian government initiative but also the mark of quality that will characterise ever more Viega products for the Indian market from now on. In the coming years, we want to locally manufacture products that we currently import into India. To this end, we have designed the plant so that it can always be adapted to changing production requirements and market needs.”
With 4,300 employees worldwide, Viega now sells piping systems for plumbing and heating, drainage technology and flushing systems for toilets and urinals. A 33-strong sales team ensures proximity to the customer, which is likely to go up to 120 if Viega India sees a strong potential.
Holst-Gydesen said that invest is the key word for the company. “We are constantly investing in innovating products for the business we operate in. This year we have increased the innovation budget by 20% worldwide.”
The company plans to introduce partners for drinking water installations in the near future. Over the next few years, it plans to add intelligence and service to its products so that it can offer improved systems to customers.
Interestingly, Viega is aware that Indians will pay for quality products that it has on offer.