Mr Aiyush Bhuwalka
August 20, 2019
Young, bold, and dynamic! We bring to you a zestful spirit who dared to dream and made it come true. Managing Director, UB Stainless, Mr Aiyush Bhuwalka is a testimony to the fiery resolve of the young Indian entrepreneurs that is transforming the conventional business dynamics, and more importantly the corporate culture, with their adaptability to modern times and technology. Here’s an excerpt of Mr Bhuwalka’s interview with Stainless Post.
Take Us Back To Your Childhood. How Did Your Journey Start?
I was born in Kolkata, but I grew up in Mumbai after my family moved there in 1982. My family has its roots in Rajasthan and like many Marwari families, we are a business-running family too. The business originally comprised coal mines and tea estates. It was during the early 80s that we diversified into steel. As a youngster, infused with a desire to start my own enterprise, I became passionate about manufacturing. I was always driven to the sound of machines whirring and the absolute discipline with which the entire production set-up worked day after day. After graduating from the Mumbai University in 2001, I was looking forward to an MBA degree from a reputed overseas college. This was the time when my grandfather motivated me to step into the corporate world and learn by experience at a young age. I took this as a challenge and decided to set up my first manufacturing plant at the age of 24. I started out with a clean slate, with almost no knowledge of several aspects of the steel business. However, I was attracted to stainless steel as it is the metal of the future that promised an enormous potential. Over the years, I adapted to self-learning. Today, when I look back, it seems to be a courageous decision that shaped me into a more confident person. So, I decided to convert this inexperience into an opportunity. That’s when I realized that this inexperience led me to make bolder and newer decisions.
What Are The Major Milestones Of Your Company? How Do You Define The Work Culture At Your Workplace?
With a non-engineering academic background, I didn’t have any experience in the stainless steel segment. I learnt the business majorly through practical experience. However, I was restless to set up my own enterprise. The starting years were tough as we were stuck doing job-work for an open market that limited our growth. This was also the time when 99% of our produce was dedicated to the Architecture, Building & Construction (ABC) segment, which majorly comprised polished tubes for trade markets. However, given the cheap imports and existence of many players in the unorganized sector at that time, polished tubing proved to not be a critical component. This is when we realized that we needed to step into a quality-conscious market. So we took a bold step and entered the automotive segment in 2007.
Although challenging, we did realize the demanding nature of the automotive segment with respect to quality and timeliness. This helped shape our company better in terms of experience in handling processes and understanding our customers. Today, we supply stainless steel auto tubes to major players like Bajaj, Honda, TVS, Tata Motors, Mahindra, Nissan, Renualt, etc.
Gauging potential in the metal, we further ventured into critical tubing components for automotives, related to engines, in 2010. Parallelly, we also ventured into other industrial applications like food processing, distillaries, pharma, etc.
UB Stainless is a young company, not in terms of its existence, but in terms of its people, ideas, and vision. The average age of the workforce here is 35-36 years which we believe is a huge advantage in terms of new and bolder ideas that personify my work ethics.
I have always been of the opinion that thinking and questioning doesn’t cost you anything. I believe that inquisitiveness in the team is an asset. Unless your people are free to express themselves, they won’t feel motivated to add value to their work. This is why we follow a really open-minded and transparent work culture. Success, for me, is not just about numbers, which is why I have a three way approach to measuring success; adaptability towards change, courage to face challenges, and improving the happiness quotient of my people.
What Is Your Outlook Towards The Recent Developments In The Automotive Market? What Are Your Expectations From The Financial Year?
The market is going through a slowdown which has caused the entire manufacturing chain to suffer. This has caused the industry to be swept with panic. However, it is expected to pick up as this is the cyclical downtime which any and every industry goes through. I believe that tough times are not forever. We should understand this basic principle of business and align our thoughts and actions accordingly for a smooth transition during the challenging times. While leading the company, it is our responsibility to convert any pessimism into optimism.
I believe that the automotive market has an enormous potential in India, a lot of which still remains untapped. It is noteworthy that the entire Indian automotive market’s production is only one-fourth of what the US produces, which speaks volumes about our country’s potential in the automotive segment. I believe that as a young brand, we are yet to explore several uncharted territories in the segment and then gradually increase our market presence with excellent quality products.
Apart from it, with the advent of Bharat Stage VI norms, huge opportunity for stainless steel applications in auto component manufacturering is at our doorstep.
How Did Your Journey With Jindal Stainless Begin?
In 2005, around the time when UB Stainless was set up, Jindal Stainless had recognized that several new players wanted to enter the stainless steel pipe and tube segment. That’s when Jindal Stainless lent us their expertise and support in technical know-how and smooth supply of raw material. Since then, we have evolved and are today, one of the primary customers of the Company.
Jindal Stainless has never disappointed us on the quality front. Even during 2007-08, when producing Ferritic stainless steel grade was posing several challenges for the industry, the company made a lot of effort in order to improve the grade and its market. Today, Jindal Stainless has developed several grades for a variety of applications which underline their capabilities and efforts.
What Will Be Your Message To All Budding Entrepreneurs Out There?
I dreamt of being a young entrepreneur and today I’m living it. It’s all about going out there and making it happen. Start young, start bold. Some of the valuable lessons that I would like to share with all budding entrepreneurs are (i) Never underestimate the power of your own instincts. For an entrepreneur, her/his gut feeling is the most important decision maker. (ii) Always be excited to learn, be it technology or global markets. This is a powerful tool to flourish in any business. (iii) Never feel helpless or dependent in any situation. This mantra has led me to be a confident person. (iv) Integrity has to be paramount. (v) Also, always follow your passion, because if your work is fun, success is guaranteed.