WINNING ON ALL SIDES
Kapil Shukla, chief MD, KK Holding, has worked on prestigious projects internationally. He wants to emulate the model in India now.
What has been the growth story of KK Holding since its inception and specifically in India?
Yes, KK Holding is the parent company. We have several sister companies, in India and abroad. In India, we have Kaskal Facade and at other locations we have KK Holding present in Thailand, Bangkok, Sri Lanka, USA, Tanzania, Philippines, etc. As a group, we also have a presence in ten countries, all this we have tried to bring under one umbrella, which is KK Holding. KK Holding is registered in Hong Kong. Over the last few years, we have noticed that modern buildings are looking for elements such as façade, and while residential buildings may adopt façades, there is a definite trend among commercial buildings. It is the reason why we have developed our capability in this segment. The façade industry is like a laminate industry. Just like in the fashion industry, you see trends and new models, the façade industry is emerging with new materials and designs. Considering that I am a civil engineer, I have been working with plenty of architects for the last few years. We first began working on projects in Indonesia and Bangkok. Only when we started securing large and renowned projects, did we decide to make it a full-fledged business. We bagged the international hotel project abroad and were able to deliver handsomely with good results. Though the project was initially complex, we worked closely with architects on the project to make it successful.
Over the years, we have worked on several projects internationally and worked with reputed developers, corporate, architects, again mainly internationally. We are careful in understanding the requirements of the architect and the developer before venturing on a project. Façade projects by nature are quite intrinsic and require much thought. A common thread is that every promoter and architect want their building to look iconic and get branding for themselves. Architects help since they come with a strong marketing strategy and we can help them achieve their dream.
So what are your other interests globally besides façades?
Façade is our primary business. And India is a good market for us. Besides that, we are now entering the FMCG sector and will start with bakery, confectionery and beverages here. We will also start manufacturing on the outskirts of Mumbai where we have taken up land in Wada, an industrial estate, and also come up with a fabrication unit for the façade projects. We are still doing the research for our food products. We would prefer to set up our own plant instead of importing the foodstuff. The only thing we will source is the recipe for the bakery products. We have realised that international quality is something that Indians take to instantly. Quality products will always stand out in the market. There are also plans to launch five outlets in Mumbai alone. Initially, we will market and sell the products only in Mumbai and once successful, will take it to other cities.
A COMMON THREAD WITH ALL PROJECTS IS THAT EVERY PROMOTER AND ARCHITECT WANT THEIR BUILDING TO LOOK ICONIC AND HAVE SOME BRANDING FOR THEMSELVES.
You have a technological advantage in facade manufacturing, design, engineering, and testing. How do you continue maintaining the pace of competence?
Although the façade industry in India is stable, there are gaps that need to be filled. For instance, we are one of the few capable contractors in the Indian market. We have upgraded ourselves to an engineering level. For instance, we work with Rhino software as most of the work that we do calls for remodeling. We adopted advanced software for projects. We rope in people from abroad—those who have worked with us on international projects. The architects in India have taken to novel designs and do their own bit of innovations and we are considered as one of the preferred façade contractor amongst architect and more recently we were awarded Most Preferred Brand in Commercial Façade by Economic Times.
What is the kind of machinery you have for fabrication?
We have CNC 5- and 6-Axis and notching and marking machines, which offer best cutting for three-dimensional façades also. We prefer that machines do the fabrication for us as they offer excellent cutting be it aluminium, ACP, banding, etc. Since India is known to be a price conscious market, we would rather do the work in-house. You are one company that is concerned with global warming in terms of sustainability. Brief us on that. Yes, we carefully consider the sustainability factor of every product that we use. For instance, when we were working on a project in Jakarta, we worked out a novel system with the architect in terms of creating large fins that would offer natural ventilation to the inhabitants. In terms of global warming, we are careful about the glass we use. A lot of this can be resolved through education. In-house we also attend to the thermal analysis of the various systems, understand the zoning area that bring the heat, and all this is done through a software.
Installation of a façade is more difficult for a horizontal building than a vertical one. Carrying large panels to be fitted in is not easy. A three-dimensional facade has certain weak areas. In India, fabricators provide sections of up to 250mm. We have been working on 500mm sections internationally for quite some years. We are now working on the IKEA project in Hyderabad. Their specifications are quite high. They want a noise decibel level of 30-35dB, which is hard to achieve. Another project we are working on is Parini I, which calls for the use of dichroic glass with critical panel size. This displays two different colours by undergoing a colour change in certain lighting conditions. Such is the novelty of the projects we execute.