With more than 13 years of experience as Chair of Texmaco Rail & Engineering, Saroj Kumar Poddar has led one of the most successful manufacturing infrastructure companies in India. The facility consists of six factories extending more than 80 hectares, strategically located to ensure excellent road, rail, air and port connectivity.
Texmaco is focused on developing world-class products and infrastructure and is a premier freight car (wagon) manufacturer in India. It also produces electric locomotive shells, EMU coaches for Indian Railways as well as hydro-mechanical equipment, heavy steel structures, railway bridges, cranes and equipment for steel plants. The company owns the largest steel foundry in the country with a capacity of up to 42,000 tonnes of quality castings per year.
Saroj says that in his time with the Texmaco, the biggest change he has seen is in the management team. "We really had an organisation that had been around for a very, very long time. As a result, we had very senior, highly experienced but fairly old management, which we have now changed to a much younger team," he shares. "And because we brought in more younger people, we are also placing more focus on the current high-technology team."
His involvement has led to a threefold value accretion of the company. "One of our greatest strengths has been that we’ve been able to enter into tie-ups and partnerships with leading corporations. When we started, we were valued at approximately A$133.7 million, and today, we’re valued at A$401.1 million," he reveals. He further adds that Texmaco’s parent company, Adentz Group, today represents a value of about A$4 billion. Saroj’s son, Akshay, assists him in the management of the companies under the Adventz banner.
In terms of its competitive advantage, Texmaco is within a league of its own when it comes to tapping into a global market. "We are the only American railroad-approved Indian company that can supply railway bogies [undercarriages] to American railways," Saroj points out.
Texmaco has developed strategically aligned venture partners that help ensure resources are adequately managed and that there is a crossover between the supplier and manufacturer relationship. Texmaco presently has two successful joint ventures, Touax Texmaco and Wabtec Texmaco. "Touax Texmaco is a partnership with Touax of France, which is a leasing company," Saroj says. "It supports the buyers of our wagons, and the private wagon buyers are funded through a lease operating functionality within our associate company.
"We also sell a lot of foundry products to Wabtec, a standard car company that is one of the largest buyers of bogies from India." Wabtec is an American company formed by the merger of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company and MotivePower in 1999. "We are also a major supplier to Sandvik in Australia for their casting requirements for earthmoving equipment," Saroj adds.
The company has diversified its product portfolio in the past 10 years from wagon leader to total rail solution provider. It acquired Kalindee Rail Nirman in 2013 to mark its presence in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) segment.
One of our greatest strengths has been that we’ve been able to enter into tie-ups and partnerships with leading corporations.
The company has emerged as a major player in railway EPC, with its portfolio expanded after taking a majority stake in Bright Power Projects India in 2016. Saroj believes technology and innovation in this space are what will take the company into the future. "We are bringing in newer products and the latest technology," he says.
"We will now see further growth because we are looking into much more product-based EPC contracts, which includes the supply of high-tech equipment like axle counters, electronic interlocking and so on. That would certainly change the entire dynamics of the business of EPC."
When it comes to where he sees the company heading in the next few years, Saroj believes there is no end to its potential for continued expansion. "As far as the business is concerned, there are emerging opportunities for the company in the rail infra segment, a focus area of the government," he asserts.
Innovation is at the core of everything that we do.
Saroj, having credentials of setting up more than 20 joint ventures with global multinationals, holds an irrefutable track record that he believes will entice multinational companies to work with Texmaco in the not-too-distant future. "I think the one big advantage that I have as compared to most others is my experience and my ability to work with multinationals to build-up long term business relationships/partnerships," he says.
Saroj understands the competitive constraints within the market, as well as the requirement to ensure that Texmaco’s plant production is of the highest level of efficiency. "Innovation is at the core of everything that we do, bringing in newer products and the latest technology. That’s something I’ve always done, and I will continue to do," he stresses.
He says that for the company to partner with multinationals globally, it has to ensure it produces products to a global quality standard. "We try to produce as close to global product quality as we possibly can, given the constraints of pricing on the Indian railway network," he confirms. "We believe we are certainly in a situation where we bring in world-class products, with world-class infrastructure and very high levels of management skills."
When it comes to Texmaco’s relationship with its suppliers, the volume of orders is dependent on the demand from the railways and needs of the infrastructure that is being upgraded or developed. "The supplier relationship depends on the number of orders the specific railway places with you and then you place orders with the supplier," Saroj explains. "The suppliers then look at railway orders and contact you accordingly, because it’s not an unlimited market. It’s market-limited based on the number of orders for railway supplies.
"We are a company that is always ready to accept newer technologies and high-tech products as a scope for a diverse portfolio for the growth of Texmaco in the future. We are ready to look at new products and partnerships and ready to bring state-of-the-art products into the Indian market."
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