Kobelco Construction Equipment India Pvt. Ltd is a subsidiary company of Kobelco Construction Machinery, Japan under the umbrella corporation of Kobe Steel. Kobe Steel is one of the world’s biggest steel production companies. Currently, 47 percent of spare parts for construction equipment are being produced in Kobelco Construction, India. The company is planning to complete the construction of the production plant in India. Puja Construction Nepal, a subsidiary of Vishal Group is the importer of Kobelco machineries in Nepal. In an interview with Suraj Maharjan of New Business Age, Vikram Sharma, Managing Director and CEO of Kobelco Construction Equipment India talks about the company’s is performance in India and Nepal and its future plans. Excerpts:
How is the market for Kobelco construction equipment in India?
Kobelco Construction Equipment India was established in 2006. We started by importing machineries for this brand from Japan in 2007. At the beginning, we saw that there were many well established construction equipment brands there. Hence, keeping the market scenario in mind, we started the campaign to expand our market at speed. We expanded 50 dealer branches just after one year. There are around 67 Kobelco dealers in India at present. We have already expanded our market in every state of the country.
What are the major difficulties faced by the construction equipment market?
These products are especially used for development works. Such types of work directly or indirectly get affected by various reasons. Different groups and also the public may sometimes hold protests to stop the work. For example, our products are also used for the production of iron ore, but people may protest against its negative impact on the environment. Similarly, the market may go into decline due to the lack of proper rules and regulations for such products. Likewise, it is also important for building roads. But, sometimes problems arise due to land acquisition issues. Similarly, the spending capacity of consumers decreases due to economic sluggishness and the Indian currency being weak compared to the US dollar.
How have you analysed the opportunities and challenges for Kobelco in Nepal?
There were 30 to 40 dealers at the beginning when we introduced Kobelco in the Indian market. Nevertheless, we were able to become established as a popular brand maintaining a strong presence. Our products are made by using modern technology. It has high fuel efficiency. Its quality never goes down as it contains Japanese made parts. Similarly, customers are our main priority. We are also focusing on service after sales so that consumers won’t face any sort of difficulties in using the product. We are also establishing ourselves as a successful brand in Nepal due to our past experience and the quality and features of our products. We’ve distributed and sold our products in Nepal for the last three years and we have acquired a 27 percent share of the market in a very short period of time. According to the sales numbers, we are at second position in Nepal. In Nepal, the chances for road expansion, re-construction along with new construction works and hydropower projects are high. It may not be difficult for us to establish ourselves further in the Nepali market as we have long experience in this sector.
What are the company’s future plans here?
Our priority is to avert any sort of difficulties that customers might face while operating our equipment. Therefore, our plan is to provide specialised technicians and to increase our market presence here and we are soon planning to set up sales and service centres in Pokhara, Nepalgunj and Biratnagar. Similarly, in case of any equipment damage, the company is also providing inexpensive repair services. Likewise, the spare parts are also available at fair prices.
What are your unique selling points?
As a Japanese brand, Kobelco products are of good quality. They are easy to use as they are based on modern technology. The fuel efficient engines decrease fuel expenditure by 15-20 percent and the multiple filtration technology in our products reduces any chances of damage from fuel adulteration.