Be Sharp: Rajiv Nath
A razor-sharp focus on what it does best has made Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices an industry leader. Managing Director Rajiv Nath tells The CEO Magazine that the company aims to inject low cost and high quality into a niche market.
Syringes and other specialist medical equipment involved in the administration of injections enjoyed a kind of renaissance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The companies behind such products received an immediate boost in fortunes as vaccines were rolled out around the world.
Now that the worst of the pandemic seems to be in the rearview mirror, companies such as Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices (HMD) are forging on. HMD Managing Director Rajiv Nath turned the pandemic into an opportunity to improve his company’s output and standing, both of which came to pass.
With demand easing, Nath’s groundwork has given his company the best chance of further success in gaining global market share in ‘the new normal’.
"HMD has deliberately remained focused on a very narrow product range of medical disposables," he tells The CEO Magazine. "These need a high level of assembly automation, most of which is done in-house."
We invested not only in buying the best machines worldwide, but also invested in our people’s training and upskilling to a world-class level.
Among the business opportunities afforded the industry by the pandemic was the chance to pool resources and strengthen its offerings. Ever since its founding in 1957, HMD has understood that harnessing the world’s best materials to create its products was key to rising to the top of the industry.
"The reason we’ve kept such a narrow focus when it comes to product range is because that approach allows us to deliver premium products created in partnership with some of the best suppliers worldwide," he explains.
These days, all of HMD’s components are made in-house in close partnership with its suppliers. "We do this in order to be globally competitive and self-reliant," Nath says. "That includes cannulas (needle points) and even raw materials such as stainless steel capillary tubing."
Additionally, the company has created a cluster of ancillary units to supply packaging films and cartons close to its factory complex at Faridabad.
"We invested not only in buying the best machines worldwide, but also invested in our people’s training and upskilling to a world-class level," he says. "As a result, the ex-factory price of our disposable syringes has not grown by more than 20 percent from 1986 until now."
Investing in quality
This commitment to low prices and high quality was a gift from HMD’s late Founder Narindra Nath, who created the company specifically to provide hospitals and healthcare facilities with premium, innovative medical instruments at low cost.
Under his son Rajiv’s leadership, and thanks to his adaptability and ability to think ahead, the company has continued to innovate. HMD’s catheters, scalp vein infusion sets, blood collection systems, surgical blades and scalpels have appealed to international markets in the United States and Europe thanks to innovative features such as built-in sharps injury prevention measures.
"I believe the major drive of our success has always been our commitment to consistent quality," Nath says.
I believe the major drive of our success has always been our commitment to consistent quality.
"Healthcare facilities need to invest in high-quality medical equipment to help save lives. Over the last 65 years, HMD has been on a constant endeavor to introduce affordable new and advanced products that don’t simply ensure patient safety but also the safety of healthcare professionals."
It’s this commitment, Nath believes, that has helped HMD earn the trust of customers worldwide and gain a presence in more than 100 countries. "We believe in ethics, following fair business practices and empowering our more than 3,500 employees to think and act as if it’s their own company, while working as team players. Every salesperson at HMD is a brand ambassador."
A competitive advantage
Heading up a company like HMD means more than merely supplying products, however. Such is Nath’s passion for his industry that he also holds the roles of President of the All India Syringes & Needles Manufacturing Association and Founder and Forum Coordinator for the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry, among others.
The latter role in particular has seen Nath work closely with the Indian government and the wider industry to ensure the accessibility and affordability of quality health care, and to ensure India’s position as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of medical devices.
"HMD alone contributes over 65 percent of India’s syringe supplies for curative health care and immunization," Nath says. "We’ve created a niche for Dispovan, our disposable syringe. With a market share of over 60 percent – and over 70 percent for our insulin syringes – we are the most popular brand on the Indian market."
Nath says he sees HMD’s story as an inspirational case study for other Indian entrepreneurs. "We have an annual turnover of almost US$120 million, we’re one of the largest suppliers to UNICEF. We were the first company in India to manufacture auto-disable syringes for the curative segment thanks to our state-of-the-art facilities," he says.
In fact, HMD is a company of many firsts: in 1959, it was a part of the first technical collaboration between the Indian Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and a Japanese corporation when it began producing glass syringes. Almost 60 years later, HMD developed the disposable pen needle, a technologically advanced yet affordable insulin delivery device intended as a less painful alternative to traditional syringes, while also discouraging reuse.
"In February 2022, we commissioned a new 150,000 square-foot [14,000 square-meter] factory," Nath says. "The greenfield project will increase our manufacturing capacity from 4 billion needle points per annum to 6 billion."
The new factory helps realize HMD’s goal of Atmanirbhar – self-reliance. "It’s a vision we share with the Honorable Prime Minister Modi," Nath says. "In the long term, we want to stay in the top five global suppliers for each member of our product family as well as build a unique competitive advantage in each key business."
Taking care of people and planet
The manufacture of disposable products of any kind imbues upon the company involved a sense of responsibility to the environment, particularly in current times. Nath says HMD takes this responsibility seriously.
"Our factories are certified green buildings, and we’ve rolled out a series of sustainability projects aimed at improving the environment," Nath says. "By aiming for zero waste discharge, we’re also major contributors to the Central Government’s Clean Ganga Fund."
Our joint aim and commitment is to ensure that quality health care is accessible and affordable.
The medical profession demands the best when it comes to people and equipment, and by guaranteeing the latter is of the highest standard of technology, HMD allows those people to focus on their performance to achieve the highest standard.
"Our joint aim and commitment is to ensure that quality health care is accessible and affordable," Nath says. "That we can do so through the supply of homegrown medical devices to the masses is a great achievement."