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Amjad Khan MD & CEO- Saphire Polymers "Indian Composite Products are Second to None"

Saphire Polymers is a leading manufacturer and supplier of FRP/GRP products in India. A customer-oriented firm, which was incepted in the year1998, strives to fulfill all needs and demands of its consumers. The company was founded by Mr. Amjad Khan a qualified Mechanical Engineer, who possesses over 18 years of experience in the field of FRP/GRP components.

In an exclusive interview Amjad Khan MD & CEO- Saphire Polymers, shares his experience with Editor, Lucintel, K. Venkateshwar. Rao. Excerpts:

1. When did you start a facility in India?

Amjad Khan: After my completion of Mechanical engineering from University of Mysore my first major break came from a company manufacturing composites with application in electrical industries as electrical insulation items. For approximately 8 years I spent, I could find little technical expertise as this field involves a hybrid of chemical, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering.

In order to give a technical/ engineering perspective to composites in Indian scenario, I started Saphire Polymers in the year 1998 with a meager turnover of Rs.1.20 lacs pa.

2. How significant is the Indian market to your business today and in the future?

Amjad Khan: The Indian market constitutes a huge chunk of approximately 40 % of future world market. The main applications being electrical enclosures, pipes for sewerage and water, Condit pipes, Storage systems like tank for ETP, STP, chemical applications, Aerospace applications, Automobile bodies, fairings, shapes and chassis, highway projects, Electrical towers, Wind energy, Marine applications like boats, dinghies, electronics application etc.

3. What are some of the key challenges faced by your company in Indian market?

Amjad Khan: The subcontinent market is in its infancy state. Although many composites manufacturing companies have cropped up in every nook and corner, they only have created a bad impression on consumers by only concentrating on the margins using fillers like chalk powder, silica, talk etc.

There is absolutely no technical knowledge with the present composites manufacturers. The scenario can be vastly changed by infusion of Engineers in development and application field. We have almost nil or negative support from government and related agencies.

Many or almost all technical persons have little or no knowledge of GRP resulting in low off take of new equipment.

4. What key lessons can you share from your company’s experience there?

Amjad Khan: In case of any new concept we have to develop from a scratch. Once developed, these technologies are normally copied and handed over to some new supplier.

We cannot depend on any government agency including reputed R&D labs like NAL, HAL etc as they don’t have sufficient practical knowledge in this field although they might be having good theoretical background.

MARKETING WITH LITTLE or no knowledge in the international scenario has been a biggest stumbling block.

Convincing the international consumer that MADE IN INDIA is not always unprofessional

5. How is doing business in India different from doing business in Europe or US.

Amjad Khan: The European and the US markets are having good business ethics and technically sound practices. The only negative aspect is they don’t trust Indians as a whole. I had a very bad experience with Chinese.

We ask the international community in particular the Europeans and American "Trust us we will surely deliver. We are Second to none."

6. How much growth have you seen in last 2-3 years from your Indian business?

Amjad Khan: We had seen a sudden growth in exports three years back, but during recession though exports reduced, the Indian market has become stronger growing by as much as 120% (from enquires received)

7. How much growth do you expect in next 2 years?

Amjad Khan: The Indian Market is bound to grow leaps and bounds by as much as 200% annually where as the global export market will see a rise of approximately 12 to 15%.

8. What are your future Plans?

Amjad Khan: We are mainly concentrating on enclosures for electrical applications like Power panel enclosures, Feeder pillar enclosures, IP / NEMA rated enclosures up to IP65 for large enclosures and IP 68 for medium size enclosures. Our large GRP enclosures are similar to enclosures manufactured by M/s.Rittal which are metal.

We are also planning to venture into Wind Turbine for small scale Power production to farmers and consumers. We also are considering expanding our existing business in storage tanks.

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