NS: Solid surface was our passion, I have spent time in service industry,industrial sales industry, I found that there are more opportunities available in architectural segment particularly interior products and surfaces. We initiated a market research to understand the business opportunities in the building material segment and unique interior products in India. We thought that with awareness drive, we can create a niche segment for ourselves and build a brand by this process. The solid surface market in 2012 was dominated by Korean players including DuPont, Staron, HiMac, Tristone. After our market research we understood the market gaps in different segments and introduced Neonnex brand for specific applications. Our business journey has seen many ups and downs, as the organic growth cycle for a new brand; our focus was simple and concentrated. We initially focused on building channel sales and then move into specifier market segment and this paid us of in years to come. We are now specified in most of the top projects and currently are on auto-specified mode, such privilege earlier enjoyed by LG and DuPont.
Inspiration and availability
NS: When we entered the solid surface industry, the market size of about 250 crores and the current market has grown to 1600 crores and growth will continue in this industry. The decline in mining in India and globally due to ecological concern has also contributed to the demand in this business. We also position solid surface as value added products in the architectural segment, the product itself appeals to professional designers. From the channel sales point of view, it's a profit-making product. The margins provided by us in solid surface sheet are way better compared to other architectural and building material products which is enabling huge volumes in channel sales.
NS: Solid surface is preferred by designers because of its versatility in application and ease of maintenance. Considering the current COVID situation, the inbuilt benefits of products by its chemical composition are much useful like it is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-virus and it prohibits growth of any bacteria, virus or fungi. Because of these in-built qualities, the healthcare segment has adopted the solid surface sheet in various applications. There is also a new dimension we are building from this product, facade system. It is designed by using German fixtures and we did some modifications according to Indian environment and change few components to keep the cost viable for its sales. We could able to convince facade consultant to use this product and we were able to get it specified in few landmark projects which are currently in under construction stage.
Manufacturing and Designing process
NS: The product is made using 4th generation machines and by using continuous casting process. To match our competitions and provide better products to Indian consumer, we study the mindset and share our insights with the R&D team in South Korea. They work continuously on the product to give it better luster and new design to meet the Indian consumer needs. The product with great design also needs a good fabricator to install it. We work closely with our fabricators provide them with right training, technique and tools which enables them to install the product efficiently. The complete process from manufacturing to installation is guided and control to have zero defects and errors. This also ensures the confidence or designers, consultants to specify product in their projects with confidence and the channel partners enjoys selling it more and more thereby in totality winning customer satisfaction and loyalty.
NS: From innovation point of view, as there was a lockdown and markets weren't open. We spent time analyzing and studying the market gaps and unpenetrated segments and renewed the consumer mindset. This enable us to create a low-cost solution, a ready-made product matching the customer needs and specification of their designers and giving better margin to our channel partner to keep them satisfied and remove their sales issues.
Role of Surfaces - Innovation
NS: Innovations were thought and tinkered at all levels of our business. At product level, we have tested and have begun preparation to venture into exterior segment by learning the UV values of the product application. Also relooking our cost structures and not comprising the product quality, we have done innovations at formula level, manufacturing level and at application level. Our OEM machine manufacturers suggested some changes and once we tested and implemented those suggestions, we got cost per application benefit and could reduce the application cost and increased productivity, simultaneously we are continuously training the fabricators with the new application process and teach them about innovation at the machine level to get best end result.
NS: At present the retail channels and consumers are stressed financially, This will change gradually and demand will pick up. To ensure success of our channel partners, we design internal program and the channel partners will pass these benefits to consumers to create a win-win market proposition for the value chain.
NS: The answer has 2 parts: Metro and Tier1 are not completely open. Corporates are also cutting done cost on all kinds of works major or minor. The new market Tier 2 & Tier 3 are witnessing new demand, coupled by government policies and changing lifestyle, growing awareness aspiration to live life like in metros, rising disposable incomes have contributed slow but promising sales growth. All these factors will contribute to growth in all forms on interior market in next 2 years.
Products and Market
NS: We have defined our annual business plan at micro level; drawing business plans together with our major channel partners and to enable the channel partner business growth in this year. A bottom to top strategy is put in place taking our channel partners in confidence to cover the numbers of current and previous year. Channel partners are in full agreement to shoulder the growth responsibility with our team. The perspective is to blend professional insight and retail team to get the best result for Neonnex and their channel partner in 2021 in overcoming the business challenges and growth in 2021.
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