Malaysia-headquartered plasterboards specialist USG Boral is betting big on India’s much reformed and raging infrastructure sector. It has made its intentions clear of playing a long-term game on the domestic turf on the back of sustainability and green planks by rolling out India-specific solutions from its newly-setup plant. The company’s CEO for India ops Sumit Bidani spoke to SH about these plans.
By Mrinmoy Bhattacharjee
How are you positioning yourself in the Indian market?
We are the leading manufacturer and supplier of plasterboards globally, and we are bringing this legacy to India. Our portfolio consists of plasterboard systems for ceiling and drywall application, ceiling systems (gypsum, MFT and metal tiles), metal framing, building and universal jointing compounds that can be used not only for plasterboards but also for calcium silicate and fibre cement boards.
USG Boral is a pioneer and innovator of drywall solutions for interiors and exteriors. We aim to assist our customers for applications that include high traffic areas requiring impact, abuse and fire-resistant systems; high NRC ceiling tiles for noise reduction; healthcare, for catering to clean room and anti-bacterial needs; and metal ceiling tiles for aesthetics and maintenance, besides others.
What is your growth strategy for India?
The Indian building and construction industry is set to experience strong growth. We are already witness to the implementation of much-needed reforms on the structural front (RERA, GST, etc). In order to cater to this demand, and also to introduce high-quality plasterboards in India, we recently commissioned a 30 million sqm plasterboard facility at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh. This new facility strongly positions the company, particularly for addressing the demand from South India, as the consumption of strong and high-quality plasterboard products will grow in the medium-term and long-term. Our strategy is to expand our array of customer-relevant innovations across the country, pioneer the usage of drywall consumption across non-users, and also grow residential applications.
What would you list as the key growth triggers for your business?
The India market is tremendously important for our business, with the construction industry expected to grow continuously over the next decade. According to a recent study by BMI Research, the industry is projected to see a growth of 6.1% in 2018, an increase from the 5% growth experienced in 2017. Growth will be underpinned by the stable support from government for infrastructure development, as well as the expansion of the private sector. The building and construction sector occupies an important place in the economy with significant GDP contribution. This bodes well for USG Boral in India.
In our view, low per-capita consumption is the key growth opportunity. The accelerated adoption of drywall technology and systems across applications, coupled with the scarcity of sand and water and the general escalation in conventional building materials, will trigger growth cumulatively. There has been a shift towards flat slab construction, especially in high-rise buildings, and it complements the usage of drywall. The compulsions of green building due to concerns for sustainability and speed will also drive drywall usage.
How strategic will be the Sri City plant in your scheme of things?
USG Boral has invested approximately $39 million to build this new plant and it will have an impact on the entire South Asia region, which includes Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This facility offers us the ability to significantly increase our operations in India and provide our customers in the region with quality plasterboard products, which will create a positive impact on both industry and the economy.
What innovations are you introducing in the domestic market?
We offer a wide range of building products and systems to help simplify the design and specification process. Our products and system solutions have been tested to ensure they meet the fire, acoustic and impact performance standards across multiple applications. We deliver a wide array of products and end-to-end solutions at consistent quality and service to our customers. We are champions in dry walls and ceilings that replace traditional wet construction which comprises brick, cement, sand and water. This not only is more sustainable and greener, but also offers other benefits including faster construction due to its light weight. This would be an important consideration for builders and contractors who emphasise on delivering projects on time.
USG Boral’s technical plasterboard portfolio has been enriched with new launches and system testing and can be utilised as a one-stop solution. Our metal ceiling system portfolio provides customers with high quality, powder-coated metal ceiling panels that are compliant with standards for performance and safety.
We can confidently say that now architects and building operators are no longer restricted to just traditional flat ceilings, as the new metal ceiling system allows for unique designs, including open cell ceiling, baffle ceiling, perforation patterns in different edge profiles and colours. Our metal ceilings are suitable for a variety of applications. These include airports, rail stations, shopping malls, and hospitality venues where there are unique requirements for special designs to optimise the facility’s operations. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications, these also offer a full range of solutions for building needs including optional perforated panels installed with acoustic backing for acoustical performance and durability in high traffic areas such as transport hubs, and a high light reflectance value which provides higher cost efficiency in office spaces.
What best manufacturing practices are you adopting in the new plant?
We are proud of our Corporate Innovation Centre (CIC) and Research & Development Centre (RDC), which are state-of-the-art workplaces where research, testing, materials analysis and pilot operations of our high-performance products and systems are conducted. A team of forward-thinking professionals, who are leaders in their respective fields such as material science, chemical, mechanical and civil engineering, physical, inorganic and analytical chemistry and architecture, have helped to set the standard for industry innovation at USG Boral.
This new plant will be fully equipped with USG Boral’s latest technology in manufacturing lightweight plasterboards that allow for easy installation, easy score and snap, and superior sag resistance. The plant will also produce an extensive range of technical boards and building plasters.
What is your distribution model?
USG Boral has distributors, retailers and warehouses across the country. In addition, we are also leveraging technology and e-commerce aggregators to optimise freight costs.