Monday, June 21, 2021

Interaction - Rohit Naik, Business Director, Apple Chemie India Pvt. Ltd.

Innovation is the backbone of our company



Apple Chemie has been providing market-leading products and solutions for important segments of Construction industry including transportation, urban infrastructure, PHE, realty and rapid urban mass transit systems. The company is committed to consistent growth through its expertise as an innovator, its experience as a leading customizable construction chemical manufacturer, and its engagement with the communities in which it operates. In an exclusive interview to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES, ROHIT NAIK, BUSINESS DIRECTOR, APPLE CHEMIE INDIA PVT. LTD speaks about the latest trends, company’s approach towards innovation, environment and sustainability, demand drivers and a lot more.


Give us an overview of the CC & Waterproofing chemicals market in India, latest trends and sector challenges.

Construction chemicals market including the waterproofing chemicals division is currently the hottest sector in the construction industry. With the market size of around Rs.8000 crores, construction chemicals market is grabbing eyeballs from various industries. Despite the global pandemic, construction chemical industry has seen a consistent growth of upwards of 18%-20% YoY. The market as a whole can be differentiated into retail segment and the non-retail or the bulk sales segment. There are players in the market who have focussed their growth in the retail segment and this segment is now attracting many giants from the paint and cement industry. However, the non-retail segment has seen many players come and go. This segment in particular is quality conscious, demands consistency, capacity and a sound financial setup. Both these segments have their own merits and demerits which can become a challenge or an opportunity, the way you see it.



Detail us on the range of CC & Waterproofing chemicals and its applications offered by your company.What are the USP’s of your products/solutions Vis-à-vis competition. Advantages of using your CC & Waterproofing chemicals in terms of savings on construction cost, time, and labour.

Apple Chemie is central India’s largest construction chemical manufacturer. With the strong backup support of our central R&D laboratory and scientists, we have developed innovative products ranging from corrosion inhibitors and coal tar epoxy coatings for underground protection, PCE and SNF based admixtures, curing compounds, polysulphide and PU sealants, segment bonding adhesive, crystalline durability powder admixture, waterproofing coatings, floor coatings, concrete and steel protection coatings and various cementitious products. We have always been committed to developing innovative products. We focus on developing products to cater to the constructional challenges that keep changing every day. Since we are an innovation driven company, we develop products irrespective of the volume in which it may be sold. The range of chemicals manufactured by Apple Chemie can be advantageous in different aspects. The admixtures can make the concrete more durable and water tight whereas the curing compounds can reduce shrinkage cracks and save water used for curing purposes. The crystalline durability admixture is the latest development from our R&D centre which not only enhances the durability parameters of the concrete but also imparts self-healing properties to the structure.



What is the company’s approach towards innovation, environment and sustainability?

Innovation is the backbone of our company. Our motto, “Committed to Innovation” keeps us focused on challenging ourselves to develop new, innovative, sustainable products for the construction industry. Our team of highly experienced scientists and researchers have been successful in addressing the challenges of the industry. We have already filed 6 patents about various products and the processes. We have a think tank of stalwarts of PCE and construction materials industry from across the globe like Germany, Switzerland, France, Korea etc to guide us in our technological developments. Our technical services team and the R&D team work in tandem to understand the customer need and the changing fabric of the construction industry to be prepared for the future. Apple Chemie has always been particular about developing products that will have the least impact on the environment. We are the first company in the country to manufacture a green Polycarboxylate Ether (PCE) which is the raw material for manufacturing of admixtures.



Challenges faced in terms of availability of skilled labor in your industry and how to overcome them.

Construction chemical industry is a formulation-based industry. The crux of the matter lies in the proprietary formulations of your products and the correct application or use of the product. One of the challenges especially in the waterproofing segment is the availability of skilled manpower. These products and its applications need an excellent technical guidance for its success. There is an immediate need for the development of trained team that can correctly do the application. Waterproofing products usually are accompanied by guarantees/warranties for the performance. If these jobs are completed by unskilled or poorly skilled labour, then it can have a huge impact on the time wasted as well as financial impact. In order to avoid this, usually the contractors demand for a supply and apply contract where the manufacturer not only supplies the product but also ensures the correct application by his own team. This kind of approach has automatically led to development of trained and skilled manpower.



Have you launched any new products or launching new products in the near future.

We have recently launched a product called AC-CRYSTACRETE which is a crystalline durability enhancing admixture. This product has been a breakthrough innovation and a result of numerous hours of rigorous R&D. This product is an import substitute and has been developed under the “Vocal for Local’ initiative of the Honorable Prime Minister of India. This product was tested across numerous NABL accredited labs and is also under testing with a few Government departments. This product not only increases the durability of concrete, reduces coefficient of permeability by more than 95%, reduces chloride diffusion by more than 45% and also shows an increment in the compressive strength. Our dedicated sealants and adhesives unit is already under construction and will be ready soon. Once functional, we will have a state of art plant to manufacture PU and polysulphide sealants along with various adhesives.



As a manufacturer tell us about the critical challenges faced while introducing high end products in India? To what extent does cost influence a customer’s purchasing decision?

India is known to be a cost-conscious market. One of the challenges that we particularly face in the market is the people do not see the value of the product, the quality of the offering but instead they directly jump to the price and compare. Hence it becomes imperative for us to educate our customer of the added value that he will get which cannot be measured by the sheer numerical price of the product. There are certain contractors who will never compromise on the quality parameters just because of the cost. High end products in India are still a big hurdle. But the shift is happening. People are trying to imitate the west in the construction industry as well and hence the acceptability of the new high end products is improving. However majority of the customers will get influenced by the cost matrix and end up buying the lowest cost product on paper irrespective of whether it is the best or not.



Which sectors are major demand drivers for CC & Waterproofing chemicals in India.

The major demand drivers for construction chemicals is the tremendous infrastructure growth happening across the country. Post COVID pandemic, the government has decided to infuse lot of funds into public infrastructure sectors like expressway, metro rail, hundreds of kilometres of roads and many such projects. This has given a push to the construction industry and the construction chemical industry. The waterproofing chemicals have always been the bread and butter of the retail business segment. Every advertisement you see on the television about construction chemicals speaks about making your home leakproof. There are different sectors that are being explored as well by the new entrants in the industry like cementitious block mortars, readymix plaster etc. But these will take time to get widely accepted.



What is your outlook on the opportunities from renovation and repair of old existing structures for the construction chemical and waterproofing business? Can this area be considered as a new growth driver to strengthen business volumes for players like you?

The repair and rehabilitation is an industry in itself. There are two major serviceable segments namely, repair and rehabilitation of old buildings and repair and conservation of heritage structures. The hurdle with conservation of heritage structures is that most of these buildings are property of the Government and under the control and maintenance of Archeological Survey of India or similar other bodies. These bodies have not been very forthcoming about this. The kind of restoration works we see happening across the world, it is about time that we should also conserve our heritage and restore it’s glory. We are proud to say that we did participate in a part restoration work of the gate of Taj Mahal at Agra and some of the buildings in south Mumbai. The chemical industry definitely understands the delicate preservation of structures and can surely come up with excellent solutions that will not change the appearance of the building. As far as the repairs to old buildings is considered, this usually happens when there is a design fault or a change of use of the building or the building does not meet the life span criteria. These problems increase when the buildings are constructed in the coastal cities. The harsh environment conditions increase the rate of deterioration in coastal areas. Since, we know that India is covered by sea on three sides, it becomes imperative to develop an independent product range dedicated to repair and protection of structures. We definitely see this as a prospective growth segment in construction chemcials



Brief us on your manufacturing facilities.

Apple Chemie currently has a dedicated PCE manufacturing plant at Nagpur. This is an ultra-modern plant with maximum automisation. We have another modern manufacturing setup for a host of other chemicals including admixtures, curing compounds, waterproofing and cementitious products. We are already expanding our sealants and adhesives section which should be ready soon. All these facilities have been setup in MIDC Nagpur which gives us a strategic benefit of location. We can access all parts of the country from this location with ease.



Future outlook on the industry and from a company perspective.

The construction chemical industry as a whole has a huge growth potential. The awareness about the use of these chemicals is increasing day by day. People have started accepting these chemicals as a benefit and value addition rather than just an additive to comply with the guidelines. Apple Chemie as a company has grown rapidly over the last couple of years and has been making a name in the market as one of the most trusted Indian construction chemical brand. Also, with the focus of government on promoting local manufacturers, the day is not far when Indian manufacturers who are the backbone of the Indian economy will get the first preference to supply products on the projects.

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