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Rooftop Renewable Energy & Alternative to Plywood - This company Offers Both The firm has built a solar roofing solution and developed a fibre cement board which can replace traditional plywood thereby saving trees

By Aastha Singal

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Visaka Industries

Owing to subdued real estate prices, lack of transparency in legalities and copious amounts of alleged black money involved, the Indian construction industry has been going through a tumultuous phase. In the past few years, the industry has stagnated. With legacy businesses driving scalability, the industry is now looking to grow sustainably.

For Hyderabad-based listed firm Visaka Industries, the journey to sustainability started in 2010 when Vamsi Gaddam joined his father's business as joint managing director. The company was incepted with an initial investment of INR 5 lakh in 1983 by G. Saroja Vivekanand, Gaddam's father, with focus on two verticals - fibre cement sheets and fibre yarn.

Vamsi Gaddam, joint managing director, Visaka Industries Ltd

Gaddam being a new generation entrepreneur wanted to try new avenues for diversification, expansion and ultimately acheive sustainability. After settling the initial challenges with the existing management, he was able to introduce new verticals. He had the advantage of age and the existing management brought experience. In an exclusive chat with Entrepreneur India, he talks about the journey of a traditional construction company becoming sustainable:

Taking the Unconventional Route

From brick making to plywood and even the cement sheet manufacturing, none of the traditional businesses has been seeing a great growth pattern. The slowdown has paved the way for new business ideas to take over the conventional concepts. Visaka has therefore launched its next-generation products – Vnext and ATUM.

Vnext is an eco-friendly alternative to plywood whereas ATUM is an innovative rooftop solar product that comprises a roof and a solar panel designed to meet consistent energy demands that can be managed on your phone. Visaka is currently the second-largest Indian company in the manufacturer of fibre cement roofing sheets and enjoys 20 per cent of the total market share.

For utilizing rooftops as renewable energy solutions, Gaddam with his team of experts developed this hybrid rooftop solar product. Life of ATUM roofs can be 15 years compared to the 10 years of traditional metal sheets. Talking about the product's basic strength, he stated, "The product can withstand 200 kilometres of wind speed." Since December 2018, Visaka has already sold about a megawatt of roofing spaces in the country.

Fighting Against Deforestation

Visaka's fibre cement boards are essentially substituting Plywood, an industry worth nearly 'INR 20,000 crore'. Plywood, however, is one of the most common building materials. By Gaddam's self-admission, people are not taking fibre cement boards very seriously. "They (Vnext boards) have hardly made 1 per cent of my entire sales over the last 10 years (despite) pitching my product as an eco-friendly one," he said.

A House Constructed Using Vnext Fibre Cement Boards

Plywood is among the biggest causes of deforestation around the world. Corporates need to take the onus for creating awareness around these issues and create concepts to replace them altogether, Gaddam stated, adding, "the effort is to start educating people and to make them think that they can really shift to a more eco-friendly product without sacrificing the aesthetic and price." Visaka has been able to save 4,00,00 trees from being cut.

Vnext business has been growing fairly by 20-25 per cent. Visaka has earlier collaborated with the likes of Infosys, Microsoft, Maruti and Royal Enfield among other giants for construction of their showrooms. Visaka recently announced the investment of INR 100 crores in a new plant for Vnext board in Tamil Nadu to increase its capacity from 1,70,000 MT to 2,20,000 metric ton (MT).

Let's Talk Change

With technology being at the forefront of change, having a digital presence is crucial for every company today. Visaka is planning to launch an app soon through which people with an ATUM roof can find the amount of power being generated and saved on a click. The emphasis is therefore on product development instead of technology. "The real innovation here is the system itself," Gaddam stated.

Last year, the company sold nearly 7.5 lakh metric tons of roofing sheet last year and aims to reach 8 lakh metric tons by the end of 2019. It has grown to over INR 1000 crore turnover. The consolidated revenues of the company grew 2 per cent to INR 345.68 crore during the quarter ended June 2019 over June 2018 despite challenging economic conditions.

Through the use of its innovative and sustainable products, the company is redefining the construction space. With 12 manufacturing units, 13 marketing offices and a pan-India distribution channel of over 7000 dealer outlets, Visaka Industries Limited has emerged as a renewable business enterprise with a strong focus to develop innovative products to build a sustainable future.

Aastha Singal

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Features Writer

A business journalist looking to find happiness in the world of startups, investments, MSMEs and more. Officially started her career as a news reporter for News World India, Aastha had short stints with NDTV and NewsX. A true optimist seeking to make a difference, she is a comic junkie who'd rather watch a typical Bollywood masala than a Hollywood blockbuster. 

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