In this fireside chat with Mr. Ashok Jain, Managing Director of the FUSO Group we talk about his journey with FUSO as the glass processor acquired the position of market leader in the glass processing segment and entered the solar glass segment.
You have been in the glass industry for over 3 decades now. What notable changes have you seen in the industry and how has FUSO transformed to keep up with these changes?
I belong to a glass trading family. I joined the family business in 1990. In those times, it was a seller’s market. The demand was much higher than the supply. It was a time manufacturers and dealers enjoyed good profit.
Since 1990, the glass industry has undergone a tremendous transition. Clear sheet glass supply used to be in short supply and tinted glass was considered a luxury. Today, you see we have a highly competitve market.
There are numerous types of glass and varying specifications to meet the functional needs of the application. The processed glass size moved from semi-jumbo to jumbo, facade need floor glass panels, shop-fronts have started asking for single panel of two floor height. Glass being the aesthetic element in the building, facade consultant and end-clients are keen on processing parameters viz., roller waves, warp, and edge dip these days.
FUSO has not just kept up with these changes. I would say FUSO has been a catalyst and in some cases even the reagent which has caused this transistion. Till we started our first architectural glass processing plant in Chennai, architectural glass was being imported. Since then we have introduced many architectural glass products for the first time in India.
FUSO has distributed production facilities in three different states. Theoretically speaking, there is cost effectiveness in running one mega production facility. What advantages do you see in a distributed manufacturing setup at FUSO?
Glass handling needs extra care and logisitcs costs are high. In 2004, we were at an inflection point. In order to expand to newer markets then we had to be closer to those markets. It was a thoughtful decision that we would make huge investments in setting up plant and machinery in Mumbai and Hyderabad. All the three processing facilities were capable of carrying out all processing operations including tempering, insulating, laminating, screen printing, heat soak etc.
In the hindsight, I can now tell you that it was the right decision. Today, FUSO has the largest glass processing in the country. We received tremendous market acceptance as we further expanded in Hyderabad and Mumbai. The two cities where we exist are well connected to the ports which has opened up global markets for us.
Lastly, the distributed manufacturing is essential to our business continuity plan. During the state wide lockdowns in Maharashtra, we could service the customer needs through our Chennai and Hyderabad facilities without any delays. Our ability to withstand any regional disruptions makes us a reliable supplier.
You mentioned global markets. What are the prospects for FUSO outside of India?
Our first mega break was with the execution of 40,000 sq m Vision Exchange Project in Singapore. This gave us confidence to cater to the global demand, and presently, we are involved in projects in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Colombo, Dubai, Qatar, Africa, Bangladesh, Europe etc.
Now-a-days, float glasses of many international brands are available in India to suit the choice of global customers. We meet all standards and have the requisite quality certifications to meet global expectations. Our team is capable of understanding and delivering as per the technocommercial requirements of our international customers. All these factors give momentum to our export business.
That is much in line with the country’s vision of Make in India for the World. While you talked about market expansion, are there any plans for product line expansion?
We will soon enter all segments of glass processing. In the next five years, we will be investing in two plants to service our OEM customers and add two new plants for architectural glass in Western and Southern India.