Sunil Tiku is Sr. Director, Sales & Marketing at Terex Construction, India. Terex manufactures construction equipment ranging from backhoe loaders, skid steer loaders, wheel loaders, lighting towers, walk-behind rollers and site dumpers. Auto-Electro-Mech Pvt Ltd is the sole distributor of Terex in Nepal. Tiku talked to NewBiz on his recent visit Kathmandu. Excerpts:
What brings you to Kathmandu?
I come to Nepal every six months to guide our team here and to look for ways to provide better services to our customers, and of course our dealer is inaugurating its corporate office. We are lucky to have Auto-Electro-Mech as our partner in Nepal. They are very sensitive to the needs of the customer; they are open even on holidays and after work hours.
How has your business in Nepal been like since you partnered with Auto-Electro-Mech in 2012?
We started our journey in Nepal with our partner Auto Mech. We have a machine population of around 200 in Nepal. The country is developing fast, and there is a lot of scope for the development of infrastructure. Manual labour is difficult to get these days, and there is no option but to mechanise.
Talking of our business in India, the demand for our products in metros, and even the tier 1 and tier 2 cities is flat. Most of our business these days comes from the east and the northeast. Bihar is one place where demand is growing; it is the second-most populated state in India. This shows that wherever people live, they need basic infrastructure like electricity, roads and housing. That’s where our machines come into the picture. We can compare Nepal to Bihar where rapid development is taking place.
The sale of our construction equipment in an area is proportional to the infrastructure development that is taking place there. Last year, we sold around 50 machines in Nepal. This year, we plan to sell 75 and next year 125. Our business in Nepal is around 5% of our business in India, and we see that it will only grow.
What are the USPs of your products?
We have three USPs. First, we do not compromise on quality; second, we are sensitive to customer’s urgency and needs, and third, we are very flexible. Let me explain, at the core of our operations is the service we provide to our customers. We are very careful when choosing a business partner. We only choose partners who share our vision, and treat customers like family. In Nepal, we can see that customers have direct access to the owners of our dealership. Similarly, we never compromise on quality. Although we do not manufacture all the components of our machines by ourselves, we make sure that the components we use are of the best quality.
We can provide customised machines to our customers. For example, our machines mostly come in grey and white colours. But our partners here said that yellow is a more auspicious colour, so we were able to manufacture yellow machines that too in a short time. Similarly, a customer wanted stereo and mobile charging features in the cabin, we gave him that. This would not be possible with other companies in the market.
Your machines are involved in infrastructure projects which are most often in rural areas. How do your mechanics reach those areas when they are needed there?
You see, our business partners have full-fledged offices in Kathmandu, Butwal, Chitwan and Dhangadhi. We are planning to open more of these offices. In addition to this, we are planning to have representative offices in different parts of the country so that a customer can reach us easily. The rule of the thumb is that for every 30 machines you need one service engineer.
What is your assessment of the situation in Nepal after the earthquake?
The quake was a great tragedy for Nepal. To restore everything that was destroyed is going to be a mammoth task; it’s not something that can be done overnight. It will take time. We are committed to working in Nepal, and believe that there is a possibility for tremendous growth here. After the rainy season, things will get in full swing.
What has the major challenge been so far operating in Nepal?
As I told you the market leader always has a competitive edge. In the earlier days, it was a challenge to demonstrate to our customers that we offer what we claim to offer. Also, we work closely with our partners in Nepal and back them up. We tell them that we are here for them through thick and thin.
Today’s world is highly competitive, and people have multiple choices. It is not easy to get customers to give up their loyalty to one brand, especially when the stakes are so high, like in the construction business. But we should not forget that new entrants bring better technology and are more sensitive to the customer’s needs.