4 Jan 2018, 09:22 — 8 min read
Do life partners make for good business partners? In the case of S Sudhakar & Shanthi Sudhakar, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The husband and wife team from Coimbatore met in engineering college where they studied mechanical and electrical engineering respectively. Both were bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and set up Turbo Engineers (CBE) in 1992. The company was initially established as a trading company. In 2000 they moved to manufacturing products made from basalt rock that helps preserve the life of steel with wide application in the coal, power, steel and energy sectors. A first of its kind company in South India, they have a 60% share in the market and a turnover of INR 40 crore. With leading companies like Reliance and Tata as their clients, they look to continue their growth trajectory and reach a turnover of INR 100 crore soon. Apart from manufacturing wear resistant products, Turbo Engineers also manufactures conveyors for bulk materials.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), S Sudhakar (SS) and Shanthi Sudhakar (Shanthi) share the journey of their company which is celebrating its silver jubilee.
GL: Tell us about your business.
SS: My wife & I established Turbo Engineers (CBE) in 1992 as a trading company. From 2000 onwards we started manufacturing innovative products, using basalt which is a volcanic rock. This is used to create wear resistant products. We are the first company in South India producing such a product.
There are two lines of manufacturing — wear resistance products and conveyor systems. Wear resistance products reduce wear and tear in core sectors like coal, power, steel and minerals and other industries. They extend the life of the machines. If normal steel is used for these products, the life is one year but with our products it is 10-15 years. NTPC is one of our premier customers who use our products a lot. Earlier they used a steel pipe that gave a life of one year. Now they use our pipeline which gives a life of 10-15 years. The plant has had no stoppage, it runs without any breakdown. Moreover, there is no ash or pollution and it is a more eco-friendly method of operations.
The other range of products we manufacture are conveyors. Bell conveyors, screw conveyors and rollers which also find wide application, giving us high volumes. We cover all kinds of industries relevant to this technology. Our market share in India is about 60% and it’s growing. We are also pursuing interests in overseas markets like Malaysia and the Middle East.
I am a mechanical engineer with an M.B.A. Initially, I worked for a company called Kirloskar. During that time, I found I wasn’t satisfied. I always wanted to start a company. During my college days, I met my wife. She is an electrical engineer. This company started with a partnership - with Shanthi, my life partner and business partner. She takes care of the commercial part and I take care of the manufacturing and marketing side. We have a team of 80 people who are mostly engineers. The employees are well trained, and we educate them to have skills for work and also focus on their holistic development. The aim is to get people to work and live happily.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
SS: Our USP is to conserve natural resources. In all these industries the machinery is made of steel. When you use more and more steel, you deplete nature. Using our products, steel use and demand decreases, and it helps the environment.
Shanthi: The USP of our business is to save mother nature. Steel is being used a lot. It gets depleted. We have products that use cast basalt that is basically volcanic rock that is spun cast and is highly wear resistant.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
SS: We had a lot of problem with concept selling. 20-25 years ago, people did not know about our products, its specialty and advantage. Entering industries like steel, power and coal is difficult because they are huge industries and they cannot take a chance on new products. Now they have accepted the use of our products and use it in many areas.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
SS: We have clients in all the big industries of coal, power, steel and mining. This includes Adani, various state electricity boards like the Bihar and UP boards. In steel, Vizag steel plants and Tata steel. In cements all the big names like Jaypee Group are our clients. We have two types of customers. The first are those who use our products in maintenance. The second are EPC contractors. Companies who use our products in their new projects. Reliance has selected us for a INR 100 crore project where we are the only Indian company to be included.
Shanthi: Our presence is there in many sectors that require engineering. Today, even if one industry is not doing well we are cushioned. Our business with Reliance Industries is a significant milestone. We were selected to provide our products to a great project and we were the only company to be selected from India.
GL: Do you believe that the ‘ease of doing business’ in Coimbatore has improved?
SS: Coimbatore is one of the best cities in Tamil Nadu. Coimbatore is very entrepreneurial. My mind changed to entrepreneurship when I came here. More SMEs are located here than most other places in the country. It is the right place for various small-scale industries. It is becoming a world hub for foundries and valves. The infrastructure is very good.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting & assisting SMEs?
SS: We were one of the first people to join in the early days of the network. When we found out about GlobalLinker, we found it was very useful to us for linking as a B2B platform. We found our ideas could be shared globally which is very useful for a business.
GL: What is your big business dream?
SS: We have big business plans. We want to be the leader in our product range. We currently do INR 40 crore turnover. We are planning INR 100 crore plus turnover which is a dream that is coming to fruition. We are modernising. We want to get the best machinery and train our engineers and workers, so we can take our operations up a notch.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
SS: Life is interesting, and it should be enjoyed. You should keep going on your business journey. Success will come with time, even if there is failure if you keep going you will reach the top.
Shanthi: Try various ventures, go with your heart and find success.
Network with SMEs mentioned in this article by clicking on the 'Invite' button on their profile. S Sudhakar, Shanthi Sudhakar
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Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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