Mr Federico Spada and Mr G.L. Rangnekar
July 26, 2018
This is the story of Mr Federico Spada, President, VRV Asia Pacific, who loves his land to the core and misses his pasta each time he’s in India, and of Mr G.L. Rangnekar, MD, VRV, Asia Pacific, who has learned the ways of life from books and hard work. Witness the journey of this dynamic duo along with the Corporate Communication department at Jindal Stainless.
Following words narrate a blend of vision and vigour. Of a man from a far off land who is the guardian of his 62-year old family business, and of another courageous Indian who helped shape the destiny of this global company in our country. They do not confine themselves in the term ‘entrepreneur’; they are two family men, shaping a sustainable future. Guided by a rich culture and moral etiquette, these gentlemen have paved their way through every thick and thin of the business world.
From young business visionaries to globally renowned business leaders, take us back to the beginning of your journey.
Mr Federico Spada: The company was set up in 1956, by my father in Milano. I took over the responsibility of managing the Cryogenic department of the company in 1996, when my father offered it to me after realizing that I was ready to take up the challenge. Initially we were a family business serving to limited European market. In 2001, we took over a French company’s Cryogenic and Bio-chemical divisions, stepping into the French market. It was in 2008 when we realized that in order to have a dynamic global presence we needed to up the game. This is when we started expanding our reach. We explored Asian markets and landed in India. Today, we produce for more than 60% export market that includes Australia, South America, Middle East and North America. Talking about myself, I have learnt to trust the strength of people. I personally believe that a family business can only survive when you treat your business, your management, and your employees as a part of your family. Knowing my employees personally has been my strength. I think this is something that also keeps me motivated to do something better, not just for the company, but the company makers (employees and management). My father understood this concern and made sure that the company’s management held prime authority. It is values like these that keep our foundations solid.
Mr G.L. Rangnekar: During the last 32 years of my life that I gave to corporate, I made sure that I get challenged at every step. I never got comfortable at one place. I started off with Kirloskar Oil Engines and then went on to work with some of the finest groups like NRB Bearings, Bhartia Cutler Hammer, Tata Visteon, Jindal Electrics, and others. I have been fortunate enough to have furnished myself into a finer version each time I landed to a new place, as it gave me opportunities to adapt to different technologies, interact with different people and cultures. VRV is one of those companies that are futuristic to its core. We not only talk of sustainability, but it forms the nervous system of our very company.
Why did you choose India for your global expansion? What similarities did you find in the Indian and Italian cultures?
Mr Federico Spada: Tapping the Asian market was my personal task. China and India were targeted because of the market size factor. Again, in order to move forward, it was necessary to go back to our roots. So we decided to look for a land that can understand our cultural essence and help us celebrate a longer association. Given the competition from China, and difficulty in setting up a family business there, India was a clear choice. Moreover, India served as a better geographical location, strategically.
Initially, we faced difficulties in understanding the Indian way of doing business. Buying a land and setting up an office was the next challenge. But we wanted to establish a state of art infrastructure that promotes our progressive approach.
What cemented our faith towards investing in India was the cultural consonance between Italy and India. Both lands value their families, and make sure that everything in their capacity revolves around the happiness of their families. This made a business like ours well-suited for establishment. Also, after understanding the social sentiment regarding the work culture and ethics, we observed a lot of similarity. India meant a home far from home to us.
During this journey of expansion, what were the breakthroughs for you?
Mr G.L. Rangnekar: Having started as a nationally confined family business, the first major breakthrough for VRV was to acquire a French Company’s Cryogenic division, as it expanded our reach immediately and made us go beyond our borders. The second major breakthrough was when we chose India for global expansion. It was more crucial as it was Mr Spada’s personal project. It took a lot of courage and planning to invest in Asia with such a dynamic and advanced economy. We’re more than glad that today almost 70% produce from our factories is exported all across the globe.
In 2016, we entered in a $2 million contract with ISRO for supply of 125 thousand litre (volume) liquid hydrogen tanks. It was a huge success as we faced strong competition from across the globe for this contract. Apart from this, we have also supplied to NASA, which again is a proof of the quality of our work. We believe that happy minds yield happy results, which is why we make sure that all employees are VRV employees. No one is hired on a contract basis. Apart from this, a lean and transparent management system is a part of VRV’s vision. We’ve led the way to provide support for international growth of the company. Most importantly we’ve made sure to give importance and recognition to young engineers who are mines of ideas and innovation. A fully independent backward integrated management helps us take challenges of changing market and customer requirement.
We are celebrating a 10 year anniversary of our association this year. What in your opinion sets Jindal Stainless apart from your entire gamut of partners?
Mr Federico Spada: We’ve been satisfied with our business with Jindal Stainless all these years. One reason is that both the companies have grown simultaneously in their respective areas. We can look forward to an efficient global production only when we have a dynamic material supply. We’ve trusted Jindal Stainless all these years and we continue to do so. Of course there are suggestions and scope for improvement for both companies. This will further help us cut down our dependence on US and Europe for material.
Mr G.L. Rangnekar: I am personally impressed by Jindal Stainless’ efficiency. It doesn’t make bland promises. The team analyses, negotiates, disagrees, and when it commits, it delivers. Every second counts when we deal with our customers, and steel is our ultimate requirement. In such a scenario, we have Jindal Stainless as a loyal vendor producing world class quality that faces no rejections. Even NASA approves of the quality of JSL’s steel. This is the reason we can boldly cater to the customer delight agenda of VRV. I am happy to share that Jindal Stainless is one vendor with which VRV holds a continuous association.
What is your message to all the budding leaders out there?
Mr Federico Spada: Dream! That’s my number one message to all. All of us should have a dream that we follow, and that we strive to achieve. Secondly, always follow a respectful and serious mode of work. It’s necessary to have a disciplined conduct as it makes things simpler and easier. Work hard, and work every day. Don’t let yourself be content with small achievements. And most importantly, be humble. In the end, that’s all that you are remembered for.
Mr G.L. Rangnekar: It actually bothers me that the young generation has given up reading. I’ve come across many youngsters who call themselves professionals, but don’t give space for that substance to grow within. I’d like to recommend authors like ‘John Welch’ and ‘Al Ries’, whose books have taught me lessons that I still carry in my heart. Don’t just read them, analyse the books to their roots, and make things happen. Success is not measured by the money you make; it is measured by the weight your word carries.