SCHURTER is a leading innovator, manufacturer and distributor of fuses, connectors, circuit breakers, input systems and EMC products, and an important service provider for the PCB assembly and electronics industries. SCHURTER components ensure clean and safe supply of power and ease of use of the equipment. The SCHURTER group is head-quartered in Lucerne, Switzerland. During his recent visit to it’s Indian subsidiary in Vadodara (Gujarat), Hans-Rudolf Schurter, chairman of the SCHURTER Group, spoke to Electronics Bazaar about the company’s experiences while doing business in India.
Sunday, August 17, 2014: EB: Schurter is in the business of connectors, circuit protection, input systems and EMC. Which of these is your most important business in India?
In India, our main focus is on the circuit protection and connector business. The major share of our business comes from these two product families. We also do reasonable business with our EMC products. As the EMC products are a very important business for us globally, we have market segments where we can make further in roads. We do not do EMS business here in India.
EB: Is there any particular industry segment or application area that Schurter will be focusing on in the coming years?
Our traditional customers have been in the field of general and industrial applications. We have been focusing on the medical industry since quite some time. Recently, we have developed products that find application in the renewable energy segment, i.e., in the solar industry. My big hope is to enter the space industry. We have some products that are used in the European and Chinese space industries. We have been making these products since many years. There could be a need for such products in the Indian space industry also, since this an important industry in India. We have recently won a prize for one of our fuses, which was used by the Chinese space industry in its recent expedition to the moon.
EB: Being a Swiss company, how is it doing business in India? Any specific challenges that you have faced?
Yes, we are certainly a traditional Swiss company and we are over 80 years old. Since we have an Indian management (the Lokhandwala brothers) in our company here, we did not face any specific problems. If there were any issues, these have been solved by them. We have had a more or less smooth business operation from the beginning. So we have been very lucky. We have been doing business together with the Lokhandwala family, since more than 15 years and we have never had any serious problems. Even though there have been difference of opinions sometimes, we have always found a completely satisfactory solution. Having a local management is a very big advantage for us. When I talk to my colleagues who have factories in India, who do not have local management like we have, but some kind of Swiss or European management, they tell me some weird stories!
EB: Have you faced any bureaucratic problems while doing business here?
In my opinion, we do face some bureaucratic problems, even though they are solved by Lokhandwala brothers here. Generally it is the foreign currency regulations and sometimes some complicated customs procedures. When I compare these with Europe, they are complicated. However we are now used to these. There are also issues like transfer pricing. Free trade which is commonly interpreted in mature markets like Europe, is still not fully implemented here in India.
EB: Are there any recent changes in government policies or regulations which you feel will benefit Schurter’s business in India?
Positive changes in government policies in India do take place, but very slowly. An effective free trade agreement between Switzerland and India needs to be in place. If done, it will surely help our future business in this very important market.
EB: Has your firm developed any new products in the recent past, which may help your business both in India as well as internationally?
Schurter is known for its innovative products. We have come out with many new products from time to time with a focus on new segments and applications. We have been very successful in India with some of these new products like the connectors with IDC terminals. We have also been able to develop considerable business with these connectors in the international market. I am very proud of the fact that we can now develop new products in India—not only products developed in Switzerland and manufactured in India, but our own products developed and manufactured here either for the local market or for the international market. The fact that Schurter can develop new products in India makes me very proud, and develop new products in India is an example of the good education and training in this country.
EB: What is your vision for the future of Schurter India?
You know, predictions are always difficult, especially if they are concerning the future. I think we have put up a very good base here. The electronics industry is growing even though it is a very challenging and volatile industry. Hence, I am very positive that we will also grow reasonably well in India. We have discussed our investments in India for the next five years. We will continue to invest in all aspects of our business, be it infrastructure, design and development, sales and marketing, etc. I am convinced that by being located in Vadodara, Gujarat, we are in the right place.
EB: What is your mantra for growth? Any particular insight that you have got since becoming the chairman?
What I have learnt is that there is no one way street. Your always have to fight setbacks. Business life is a life of ups and downs. Doing business in India, the best thing I have learnt is that the ‘bias’ Europeans have with India is not true. I have found here a very motivated family, a motivated team that works enthusiastically towards our common goals. They have taught me many things about the Indian culture and the Indian political life. I have got a fairly deep insight about the Indian philosophy. As a chairman, this is very important to have in order to run a company in India, without making too many mistakes.
Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine