Driven by the passion to work towards the core purpose of offering the most preferred crop nutrition brand to the farming community, Indorama India Pvt. Ltd. leads the Phosphate-based fertilizer industry in eastern India. The entire team is constantly committed towards better services to the farmer community.
On 1 June 2018, Indorama Corporation, one of Asia’s leading chemical companies based in Singapore in 1975 acquired the Business along with the brand “PARAS’ that today offers a wide array of products such as primary fertilizers, speciality plant nutrients, and organic fertilizers. It has translated into a multi-solution provider of crop nutrients and services to more than 15 million farmers.
The company has one state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Haldia with two Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP)/ Complex Fertilizers (NPK) plants, two sulphuric acid plants and one Single Super-Phosphate (SSP) plant with ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and BSOHSAS 18001:2007 certifications. It has been recognised with two Environmental Protection Awards in FY 2019-20. Their purpose, mission and values are the key driving forces for the company’s progress along with their passionate people.
“I started my journey with Indorama India Pvt. Ltd. In 2018 when I joined as the MD & CEO after Indorama Corporation acquired the phosphate-based fertilizer business of TATA Chemicals. When we set about turning the company around in 2018, we increased our focus customer driven organization.
The transformation of a loss-making unit to a profitable one within a year was remarkable. We clocked in a profit before Tax of 118.4 Crores in the first year after transition and maintained a year-on-year growth of EBITDA 33.5% from FY 2018-2019 to FY 2019-2020.
Our business volume & market share witnessed significant growth. Our production volume in different product categories increased by 22% over the years and we maintained a strong foothold in the market with market share. When I look back at how we paved our way through this phenomenal growth journey it gives me immense pride. This growth journey has been the result of the passion & commitment my team feels towards our PARAS brand, which we have built & grown from scratch.
In this journey, we came across many challenges whether it is reeling through the COVID-19 Pandemic or the natural disasters like cyclones that hit us hard during two consecutive years. But my team stood strong in the face of all the hardship and delivered phenomenal results. I would also owe this success to our customers who kept their faith & trust in our brand & gave us unconditional love & support over the decades,” wrote Ashvini Hiran.
In an exclusive conversation with The CEO Magazine’s Editor, Purnima Narang, Ashvini Hiran shared about Indorama’s journey, team, core values, key learnings from the pandemic, and several aspects. Edited Excerpts:
Ashvini Hiran: The challenges are an inevitable part of any journey. But, I believe, that these challenges make us realize our true potential and force us to stretch ourselves beyond our boundaries. There were many hiccups in our path, but nothing came up as a roadblock that could halt our progress towards our goal.
Some hurdles which can be witnessed in our industry include the raw material pricing in the face of import restrictions from China and international market scarcity of products, changes in Dollar Value, amendments in Govt. Policies on subsidies, natural calamities, and rainfall patterns. However, for Vertex, our proactive approach and alternatives solution-seeking approach helped us stand out and not get bogged down by any challenge.
Ashvini Hiran: One of India’s biggest challenges lies in agriculture growth. The share of agriculture as a percentage of the economy has progressively declined from around 52% in the early 1950s to 16% today. A sector that feeds the second-largest nation is losing favour with the next generation that finds it more convenient to move to cities in search of livelihood and lifestyles, discouraged by the tedium of rural living on the one hand and low returns on the other.
India’s low agricultural returns are the result of various historical and contemporary realities. The progressive fragmentation of landholdings and hesitation in embracing modern technologies have translated into sub-average yields.
At Indorama India, we believe that India is now at an exciting inflexion point. The farmers today are far more aware of prevailing agricultural technologies than before. It is far easier to reach millions of them using modern technologies than ever before. We believe that the sector is at the cusp of a positive move, catalysed by the facility of direct benefit transfers, Agri-loan subvention, digital marketing support & timely procurement.
We are addressing the needs of the farmers in the agricultural bowl of this country with a range of customised products. We are complementing advanced technology and farm management practices to make India’s farming more profitable. We are promoting the cause of sustainable agriculture. We launch new products backed by credible chemistries.
Ashvini Hiran: Our primary focus was on strengthening the Brand Paras. At Indorama India, we believe that the biggest asset that we possess is our Paras Brand. Paras is not a product as much as it is a friend’, ‘Paras stands for peace of mind as indicated by some farmers indicate the immense Brand loyalty.
Indorama India has been keen on taking some conscious initiatives. Starting with the senior leadership stepping up and engaging directly with the entire team through town halls as well as electronic channels, which ensured an exchange of perspectives. Secondly, goal setting from the bottom-up was ensured where teams were asked to indicate their stretch targets, resulting in greater ownership.
Last but not the least, our third initiative was the management’s question ‘You are the management so how will you run your part of the business?’ to the operating team which translated into increased empowerment. The organizational clarity was enhanced by the greater sharing of strategic direction with employees.
Ashvini Hiran: Our team is a unique blend of youth & experience. It’s a diversified group that brings multiple viewpoints to the table. My team is resilient & stands strong in the face of all the challenges. My sole mantra for team building is empowerment. Give the people opportunities, exposure & guidance and let them tread their path.
We as a team put customer satisfaction at the core of all our activities. The task before us, therefore, is to keep up the Brand promise which would have a strong & positive image. The central focus has always been the generic do good attributes & features of the products & promoting them to the community through intensive consumer connect and training programs. Our team always emphasise interpersonal communication with all our stakeholders – the dealers, retailers and farmers.
I take pride in mentioning that Paras has a Brand Equity Index (The Nielson Company ) of 7.6 in FY 2020 which is significantly higher than our nearest competitor and from industry standards.
Similarly, Paras scores above 90% Customer Satisfaction Index with all stakeholders – Dealers, Retailers & farmers (STP Research of Kleiffman group).
Ashvini Hiran: Staying connected with our channel partners & training our farmer friends are in the DNA of our ardent Team. Even during Pandemic, when it was a challenge to stay connected, we took a special initiative, and we were among the prime movers in the industry to conduct the meetings over the digital platform with Farmers, Retailers and Dealers. We received overwhelming responses from all levels and could connect with over 46,000 farmers, 8600 Retailers and 1050 Dealers through a virtual platform and we set a new trend in the industry.
The importance of vaccination, educating about Covid guidelines along with technical know-how about our range of products for the upcoming season was the key discussion points in the above-stated meetings.
Ashvini Hiran: We are proud of the awards & recognition we have received from time to time in multiple areas. Some of the notable ones which are worth mentioning include:
BSC 5 star and Sword of Honour Award from British Safety Council: Indorama India Pvt Ltd was awarded a 5-star rating in Occupational Health and Safety Management by the British Safety Council in 2020. We also won the prestigious “Sword of Honour” award for outstanding commitment to Health & Safety Management system.
Environment Protection Award from FAI: We received two Environment protection awards. One for NP/NPK fertiliser Plants without captive acid category and the other for Single superphosphate plants. ISO 50001: 2018 Certification: Our ISO 50001:2011 standard was upgraded to ISO50001:2018 during a recertification audit in Dec 2020. The certificate was awarded by M/S Bureau VERITAS (India) Pvt Ltd.
Customer-Centric Excellence Award 2021: On 17th February’2021, Indorama India Pvt Ltd has been conferred with “Customer-Centric Excellence Award-2021” at the 19th “Global Business Leader of the Award” ceremony organised by “World Leadership Congress” in Mumbai. This award is a recognition of our demonstration of customer centricity as a core competency of our business across all functions. Our flagship Customer Loyalty program of “Paras Utsav” has contributed a lot towards receiving this prestigious award.
We were awarded the ‘Dream Company to Work For’ award at the prestigious ‘Asian Leadership Award 2021’, held virtually on 15th July 2021. Is a testament to the utmost passion and phenomenal contribution our employees showcase in every sphere. It’s an outcome of the ‘People First’ principle of our organization that motivates and drives our people to deliver at their fullest potential.
Ashvini Hiran: Success is something one cannot measure in monetary terms or quantifiable numbers. It is the sense of inner accomplishment one derives when involved in something one is passionate about. Our mantra to success is being passionate about the goals we set for ourselves and being fully committed to them.
Ashvini Hiran: As an organization, Indorama has been deeply committed to the duty towards society at large. Their corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a commitment to manage the social, environmental, and economic effects of their operations responsibly and in line with public expectations.
Indorama’s CSR vision believes in creating synergy between business and the society at large by working closely with the local communities through interventions in the areas of education, skill development and healthcare.
Their comprehensive CSR program aims at building trust and improving the quality of life of the people through implementing projects by the partner NGOs. The focus areas of our CSR activities are healthcare & sanitation and education & skill development. Since 2019 we have completed various programs through CSR activity with benefiting 13924 people of the local community.
To give you a snapshot of intervention in different areas are:
Health Care: In collaboration with Vivekananda Mission Ashram Netra Niramay Niketan, we organized 4 Free Eye Screening Camps & Free Cataract Surgery. 1,126 socially & economically backward people at Sutahata & Mahishadal block of Purba Medinipur benefitted from the screening camps and 140 economically backward patients have been sponsored for free Cataract Surgery at the eye hospital of Vivekananda Mission Asram Netra Niramay Niketan.
Skill Development: In collaboration with Hope Kolkata Foundation, we ensured that beautician & tailoring courses were conducted for income generation through skill development of under-privileged women. 30 women were selected for beautician training and 20 women were selected for the tailoring training course. All the trainees were provided with a beautician and tailoring start-up kit along with a tailoring machine to start their business after completion of the training.
COVID-19 Relief: In addition to the CSR projects, Indorama India always stands by the community during any natural calamities. During COVID, we distributed relief and hygiene kits to 8350 underprivileged people of the local community. Indorama Charitable Trust along with the partner Mukul Madhav Foundation has initiated the COVID-19 relief distribution drive. As a part of this initiative, we commenced ration and hygiene aid to 4350 marginalized families of Haldia. In the first phase, Indorama India distributed 4500 relief aid to the marginalized families of Haldia.
“The Indian fertilizer market reached a value of INR 887 billion in 2020. Looking forward, as per a report by IMARC Group the market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% during 2021-2026. This is an inflecting point for emerging in technological interventions and market driven customer centric approach to serve the cause of Indian agriculture at large and farmers in particular,” the man of the hour’s advice for the aspiring entrepreneurs in the industry.