November, 2017
 
 
 
 
 

Tell us about your career journey from the beginning to becoming the CEO of Indus Motor Co.
I am a Chartered Accountant by education and profession. I started my career at Fergusons and also attended the Advance Management Program at Harvard University and the Accelerated Management Program at Wharton School of Business in the USA. I joined Indus Motor Company (IMC) in 2000 as Deputy Manager in Finance, eventually serving in diverse key roles in the Parts, Sales and Marketing departments. My tenure at IMC has enabled me to avail the opportunity of acquiring diverse, end-to-end experience of an integrated, large-scale manufacturing concern.

I was appointed CEO in January 2017. Being associated with IMC for a long time has helped me to build a firm grasp on the dynamics of the management, plant and supply chain. With the rapid changes occurring in the industry, every day becomes more challenging and demanding, but thankfully I have the help of a highly competent team to take IMC to new heights.

We grew to be a 65,000 unit company this year. Our dealer network has expanded and new models have been introduced over the years.

How do you view the current state of the automotive industry?
With the new auto policy in place, there is a lot of investment to be injected into the industry along with new reputed brands coming up. The projected volume of 350,000 units per annum by 2020 will be achieved sooner than expected. If we focus on giving the customers more choices and rely more on localization, investment in the sector is inevitable. There was several years’ gap between the expiry of the previous policy and the announcement of a new policy which had caused a looming uncertainty that did not facilitate planning and investments if the fundamentals were to change suddenly. With the promulgation of the new policy, investments are pouring in with several global players looking to invest in the sector. However, there should also be a focus on localization and transfer of technology, because that’s where the true growth of the industry lies. To attract further investment and support localization, I think similar incentives should be given to parts manufacturers as well the current OEMs to expand rapidly.

What are the different vehicle categories in the automotive sector?
A. From a broader perspective, the auto industry product categories can be differentiated based on vehicle size and its dominant use. The Passenger Car (PC) segment consists of those vehicles that are used for the transportation of people like 800cc-1800cc hatchbacks and sedans. The second category is the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) category, which falls in the multipurpose vehicle segment for carrying people and/or light goods like 1-ton pickup trucks. Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) category distinctly exists in other large markets but in Pakistan, due to its very small size, we had to include it in LCV. Another category is the Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCVs) that caters only to heavy trucks and buses. Other categories are tractors, motorcycles and also include three-wheelers in the transportation slot.

What was it like collaborating with other drummers?
IMC’s flagship product requires no introduction. The Toyota Corolla is currently in its 11th generation. This model by far is the most preferred in the market, currently enjoying an unmatched demand globally. Pakistan is considered as a Corolla-loving nation, being the highest selling Corolla seller in the Asia-Pacific region, almost 6 times in the past decade. It is also fascinating to note that Pakistan was the 4th largest Corolla nation after USA, China and Brazil in the previous calendar year. Other models are the most favourite Toyota Hilux whose 8th generation was launched under the brand name of Hilux REVO. Toyota Fortuner entered the 2nd generation and has been highly appreciated by customers across the country.

What is the role of social media in the marketing and promotion of automobiles? Is IMC making a transition from offline to online marketing?
Social media is undoubtedly a very important platform to interact with customers and to market products. We have our social media strategies in place and are working towards an integrated marketing plan, which incorporates social media in a meaningful way. I also feel that our dealers, suppliers and employees play a pivotal role and their contributions should also be highlighted through social media.

Late delivery has been an ongoing issue in the auto industry. How are you planning to reduce the delivery time?
As a respected company, we make every effort to make our products and services available to customers in an efficient and customer-friendly way. However, this is one area where our multiyear struggle continues without any significant success. The

 

Company’s distribution model is based on independently-owned dealers, located throughout the country who continue to grow. Unfortunately, between the customer, the dealer and the company, there is an intermediary layer of investors operating in the undocumented sector who book vehicles and artificially create a false waiting period and exploit this for further sale to customers who are impatient to obtain their vehicles. This vicious cycle rewards the unscrupulous, undocumented investors while preventing us from being able to directly connect with our customers.
We don’t take bookings for multiple vehicles on one NIC until the customer is proven as genuine. Also, we encourage registration of vehicles before delivery to cater to genuine customers. While the Auto Development Policy (ADP) proposed measures to address this issue on a long-term basis, we responded in time to all our obligations. Regretfully, the government has yet to consider the proposals we tabled to curb the menace of premium, which has resulted in dissatisfaction of our loyal customers. Our proposal aims at the imposition of a transfer tax on the first buyer who, as an investor, is selling the vehicle soon after taking delivery. The Company believes this would considerably discourage investors and safeguard genuine customer-interest.

Tell us about your production facilities and how CSR is incorporated into production and management at IMC.
We have 2,800 plus employees. We regularly induct apprentices after their matriculation; train them rigorously for 3 years, both in classrooms and in on-the-job training. Successful apprentices are then employed at our production facilities and trained on the world-renowned Toyota Production System and Toyota Way i.e. Respect for People and Continuous Improvement. We feel proud that our apprentices have proved their skills in the AP Region Skill contest and won a Gold medal in Thailand, beating skilled Toyota workers from India, Thailand, Malaysia and other Asia Pacific Toyota manufacturing countries. Our Sustainable Development Goals directs us to focus on sustainable methods of business.

Since inception, we are involved in a lot of CSR activities. We have solar panels installed within the premises of our head office. With these installations, there is significant reduction of CO2 emission annually, leading to cost-efficiency. We aim to be self-sufficient in power by installing more solar panels in the near future. This year, we have initiated a Tree Plantation Drive for planting one tree per employee. Our target is to plant 3100 more trees to achieve a total of 8000 trees by the end of 2017-18. We also conserve the wastewater from the production facility, which is purified and re-used to water the plantation inside our plant.

IMC is also involved in various external CSR initiatives, such as “Toyota Goth Education Program” where we provide full financial and other support to 250 underprivileged students annually. IMC released a total contribution of Rs. 130 million to the Patients Aid Foundation for infrastructure development and medical equipment for the under-construction Surgical Complex at JPMC. As per its policy, IMC allocates 1% of its profit before-tax of the previous year for its annual CSR budget. During the last five years, we spent Rs.545 million in our various CSR activities in the sectors of health, education, environment, road safety, community services, etc.

What role can the media play in the development of the automobile industry?
Media can play a significant role in the development of the country’s automobile industry. They can help in resolving the issues that the industry faces and help voice the concerns of the industry and customers alike. Unfortunately, this is not being done at present. The auto industry is a large contributor to the economy of the country and its survival is essential. In the past, we have seen the exit of very big players from the market as these local producers could not sustain themselves amidst fluctuating government policies. The old used cars in the market and the ‘On Money’ issues are visibly eating the local industry and no substantial step has been taken to curb these problems. The media can step in and ensure that these problems are effectively highlighted, but this has not been the general practice. It would have affected the local producers and deters investments on a large scale.

How effective is the use of the right media mix for a product launch?
To launch a product using the right media mix is very important. As far as our vehicles are concerned, we have always engaged both ATL and BTL, including print, TV and billboards. Social media is also becoming a mainstream medium for the millennials. It is a cost-effective and powerful medium that engages with prospective customers in a 2-way fashion. Our core consumers and their influencers in decision-making are all active on social media and therefore, our noticeable presence is essential there. However, the key is to integrate all media platforms instead of relying on a single medium.

 
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