In this interview, Numeric’s CEO, Palash Nandy shares his thoughts on the direction in which he is steering the company, which is a part of Legrand, the French Industrial Group and a global leader in electrical and digital building infrastructure solutions.
Numeric, a power solutions company, has been in India for more than 35 years now. The company, which became a part of the Legrand Group (global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructure) since 2012, has become a GLOCAL company (global expertise with deep local market knowledge) and built a client base spread across different domains including healthcare, education, infrastructure, hotels, office and commercial, industries and data centers. With a 24×7 support service, the company has 47 sales offices and over 1 million active installation base. According to Softdisk, the company is the undisputed leader in the industry in line interactive and single-phase UPS for 26 consecutive years. Its leader, Palash Nandy, who is known to manage diverse teams, incorporating best practices and encouraging cross-functional team participation, talks to us about his priorities at Numeric, challenges the company has faced and its growth strategy going forward.
Your priorities for the company over the next 3 years
Our no. 1 priority is to deliver profitable growth, not just top line growth. This will allow us to invest further rather than cut costs. This is the model in which Legrand operates around the world and we would also like to implement the same at Numeric as this leads to a sustainable business.
Second, we would like to invest back in the organisation in terms of people, infrastructure, product development and R&D.
Third, is to build more efficiency across all operations.
Fourth, we are in the middle of a digital transformation of the entire organisation. We have chosen three pillars to work on – customer interface, people interface and operational excellence.
Our objective over the last 3 years and going ahead is to double the market growth rate. Numeric was always known as a single-phase specialist; however, we have also become a significant player in the three-phase market. We have grown by 20 per cent in the last two years in this space (three-phase) while the market has been growing at 4 per cent to 5 per cent.
We are entering new verticals. Banks, which was the biggest vertical for Numeric for many years, is now only 30 percent of our business, thanks to diversified growth across verticals. We are very strong in infrastructure. Out of the 132 airports in the country, 62 of them are our clients.
In the last 12 months, we have introduced four product ranges catering to different applications in different verticals, from industrial applications to large data centre applications across all the verticals. In the next 12 months, we will introduce another five products.
We don’t have any specific schedule for new launches. We understand our customer’s needs and strive to deliver to our customers the exact product that gets the job done for them. Over the last few years, we found that there are certain needs in the market which were not getting fulfilled and we quickly brought in these products and being part of the larger Legrand group, which is known for its agility, allowed us to move
There is a lot of competition in the UPS market due to pricing. This apart, there is a lack of consistency in the functionality of the product. Our challenge is to educate our customers to help them decide in terms of which brand they want to buy and not decide that only based on the price.
This segment was not well regulated by the Bureau of Indian Standards, which has changed. The Ministry of Electronics has come out with a notification few years ago that UPS upto 5 KVA should be registered with BIS before they sell (this ruling is now for UPS upto 10 KVA). This would bring in a level playing field. The next stage for the Ministry is to conduct regular surveillance audits, which is on the cards. This will benefit all brands across the country.
USP over the other players
There is a lot of differentiation in the products that we have built in terms of functionality, which makes things a lot easier for our customers. For us, technology is all about making the product for the customer simpler. Also, our local expertise with global knowledge is a big differentiator. This apart, our massive infrastructure sets us apart. We have got 255 direct service centres across the country with 1200 numeric staff, none outsourced. Out of this 900 are field technicians. So UPS, being the product it is, needs a solid service support.
This is where we differentiate and there is no one close to us in terms of this infrastructure either in India or anywhere else globally, apart from China, across all brands and not just with respect to Numeric.
We pride ourselves on the fact that our people not only have knowledge of the product but also on the application and customer needs – this is a strong differentiator for us.
Finally, I would add that our loyal customers are another differentiator. Around 65 percent of our yearly revenues come from repeat orders.
This is a big strength and the fact that the customers are sticking with us is due to the combination of products which suit their requirements plus the fantastic service infrastructure which we have built
Big change in our marketing strategy is the emphasis on digital marketing, whether in terms of communication or internal processes. Last month, we unveiled a completely new website which is very helpful. We have kept it very simple and minimalistic but at the same time very modern. Not just in Numeric, but also in Legrand, our marketing philosophy is to be in front of our customers, listen to them and bring out products/applications which would solve some of their problems.
Scaling up strategy
We have a program underway which we call Ambition 20:20. We have articulated a clear and simple vision and mission statement, which is crucial as everyone needs to understand it easily and quickly as to where we want to go, why we want to go there, what is in it for them. In this process, a platform which we built 3 years ago called IDP (Individual Development Program) helped us articulate our vision and mission very quickly across the organisation. We are also spending a lot of time in building the right working culture.
We might have the best strategy but if execution is not perfect, we will fall flat. While we are building all this, we constantly keep focussing on customers and to build partnerships because we want to be seen by our internal and external stakeholders not just as a business partner but also a knowledge partner.
Comments about the Industry
This is actually a good time for the industry. In the past, the industry was not growing, flat at best. But starting this year, industry has started growing and will continue to grow in the coming years because of some strong fundamentals; one, there is a lot of work happening on the infrastructure side in the country. This apart, lot of activity is taking place on the education front in terms of digitising education. Data centres will continue to grow due to the recent regulations from the Government of India in terms of financial transactions has to reside in India etc.
It is a good time for the UPS industry in the coming years, though in the first half of next year, there will be a bit of quietening down due to the general elections but that is not a true reflection of the strength of the industry. What we need to change as an industry is our focus, sometimes we are very short term focussed. If we can address this a lot of the challenges would get resolved.