“Tough competition from global brands is a major challenge for Indian firms in the wire and cable market”

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Ankit Tayal, co-founder of Step Industries

The wire and cable market in India accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the power industry. Currently, the market is growing at a CAGR of 15 per cent, and this is expected to accelerate to over 20 per cent over the next five years. The various policy and regulatory initiatives introduced by the Indian government have led to the wire and cable sector becoming more vibrant. The market has been given a boost with the government’s electrification programmes and schemes, such as the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), the Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) and the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana Saubhagya. In an interaction with Potshangbam July, Ankit Tayal, co-founder of Step Industries, talks about the firm’s contribution to the government’s schemes, the challenges faced by the Indian wire and cable market, and more.

EB: Tell us more about the journey of the company.
The entrepreneurial journey of our company started in the year 2011, when after completing my studies as a chartered accountant, I started Step Industries Pvt Ltd in partnership with my uncle Sunil Tayal. Our vision was to establish Step as one of the best wire and cable manufacturing companies in India.

EB: In a short span of eight years, the company has delivered many massive projects in partnership with government and corporate conglomerates. What are the driving forces that led to such success?
This was thanks to the guidance and vast experience of my uncle, Sunil Tayal, in the wire and cable industry, as well as our commitment to deliver the finest quality products to customers on time. Step has witnessed immense growth in a short span of eight years and has become one the leading wire and cable manufacturing companies in India with a strong presence in over 150 cities across the country. Step has built a reputation of being one of the fastest growing companies in the domain through constant innovation and by upholding high standards of quality and services.

Apart from being a wire and cable manufacturing company, we are also leaders in EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) projects. This has taken our growth to new heights in such a short period of time. We are currently playing an important role in fulfilling the government’s dream of providing electricity to every household, by being a major contributor in many central and state electrification schemes like ‘Saubhagya Yojna’, IPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme), R-APDRP (Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme), etc.

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EB: With so many established players in the wire and cable industry, how do you plan to cope with the tough competition in the sector?
We are not trying to compete with any existing brands in the market. We plan on creating our own niche as a brand with the use of new age technology in manufacturing, and to focus on continual customer-centric improvements. We aim to provide the best rated products and services that surpass the expectations of our customers in terms of value, quality, promptness and reliability. This will give Step Industries an edge over other brands in the market.

EB: What are the marketing strategies that you devised to strengthen your market presence?
Our commitment towards quality products and constant innovation is our key marketing strategy. Step Industries’ core philosophy is to become a secure and sustainable company, with a safety performance that improves consistently, with our eventual aim being a record for zero incidents. Our market presence is strengthened with the help of a comprehensive, long term management plan, which is further bolstered by our product development programme, product diversity, geographical reach and product integration. Also, our commitment to provide value-added and personalised solutions to meet specific customer needs plays an essential role in our success. We collaborate carefully to evolve and develop products that are in sync with the changing requirements.

EB: Are you planning to foray into the global market?
Not as of now. However, establishing Step as a leading global brand has always been our dream. So entering the global market is definitely on the cards, sooner or later.

EB: What are the major challenges faced in the Indian market and how do you tackle them?
Tough competition from global brands is one of the major challenges in the Indian market. Another major challenge faced by the wire and cable industry is volatility in raw material prices. Any rise in the prices of raw materials like steel, zinc, copper, and aluminium has an adverse effect on profit margins. In addition, as the wire and cable industry is dependent on imports from China, the UAE, Russia and Japan, exchange rate variations affect the industry considerably. Delays in executing projects due to the multiple clearances and approvals required, and the shortage of manpower are all major impediments to the growth of the industry.

Of late, the industry has also been grappling with the challenges pertaining to lack of a level playing field in the market. In many cases, it appears that the tenders released by utilities have specific pre-qualification conditions that hamper the wider participation of domestic firms. Also, a large section of the industry is still unorganised; there is lack of quality product offerings from these players due to non-compliance with the product guidelines.
Thanks to a close knit staff with exceptional skills and expertise to research and deploy the best technologies, we are able to overcome all these challenges and develop unrivalled and innovative products that are safe and dependable for our customers.

EB: Could you tell us something about your manufacturing facility.
We have a state-of-art manufacturing unit in Shahjahanpur, Rajasthan, where more than 1000 workers meet the rapidly growing demand. We aim to expand further in the next couple of years and triple our turnover to more than ` 10 billion by 2020. So we will soon be expanding our manufacturing capacity by opening a new unit to meet the rapidly growing demand.

EB: Where do you see the Indian wire and cable market by 2025?
Increasing urbanisation and the rapid growth in building infrastructure are the major factors driving the market. These have impacted the energy and power demand in residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Increased investments in smart grids and upgradation of power transmission and distribution systems are expected to drive the market further. Also, thanks to the government’s focused efforts towards improving the power infrastructure in the country, the fast track implementation of many rural and urban electrification schemes, and dream projects like the development of 100 smart cities, I see a lot of growth opportunities for the sector in the near future.

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