Company Description: JCBL,
which was formally known as JC Coach Builders Limited, was formed in 1992. The
company produced its first bus in the same year. At present the JCB group is a
conglomerate of companies with varied interests in automobiles,
pharmaceuticals, design, information technology and international trading.
How and when did the JCBL journey begin?
which was formally known as JC Coach Builders Limited, was started by my father
with a partner in 1992. We produced our first bus in the same year (1992). In
1996 when we bought our outgoing partners out we took 100 pc control of the
unit. The day-to-day management of the company also came to us in 1996. That’s when I joined the business in
September 1996. The years 1996-98 were troubled times for JCBL. We were trying
to understand the business. I was new to the business. Our whole family was
trying to understand the business.
So how well did you subsequently understand the
year 1998 is what I call as the year of reorientation of JCBL. This is the year
when I submitted a proposal to the family. I told my family that either we have
to relook at the business or we have to shut it down, because it was not going
to work the way it was.. We barely grew from 1996-99. Our turnover practically
flattened. I’m glad that my family accepted the proposal to step back as a
family from day-to-day operations. We brought in professionals to run the show.
And that transformed JCBL forever. JCBL was the only company in the group. Our
group turnover is 1,000 crore while the
bus business is at 200-250 crore. Next
year, we will be targeting
That is the frenetic growth that we saw in the last 10 years. Every company
within the group has a business head who is running the company as a separate
JCBL has four brands, Cerita, where we are
making our own chassis also for a select niche where other OEMs do not have a
product or customers want little flexibility. We have our own Happy Bus range
of school buses. We are the market leader in this segment. Then we have our own
huge range of special application buses like mobile ATM vans, mobile homes,
mobile offices, election campaign vans, bulletproof vehicles, mobile display
vans etc. Then, there is a Life Plus range of ambulances which is our range. We
have just finished our orders for UNO mobile blood banks, each vehicle
costing 1.5 crore.
We have a strong R&D centre approved by
the Ministry of R&D. And we are the
only body builder in India to have R&D approved by the ministry. We entered
the truck body space and we are niche players in tippers and tip –trailers. The
plant is in Sriperumbudur near Chennai in association with a French company
Bennes Marrel. We are also coming out with other products on the trucking side
soon---probably petroleum tankers, cement bulkers etc.
What about the components side?
On the component side we have a separate division. This
division comes under MSL (Mobility Solutions Limited). In that vertical, we
make coach seats, fiberglass components for buses and railways, window frames,
coach components with German technology, and bus interior range. In fiberglass,
we have also done business with Stratiforme Industries of France to make
railway components. We are exporting components to Europe also. We are into bus
ACs under the Haiger brand. On the dealership side, we are the dealers for
Toyota cars (one each in Karnal, Ambala, and Mohali). We are the dealers of
Harley Davidson bikes here in Delhi. Apart from this, in 2005 the Group had the
opportunity to acquire a pharmaceutical unit. There were 4 partners in the
unit. We bought out 3 partners. The fourth partner is running the unit. On the
services vertical side, we have a design company called Grafica Design
Solutions Pvt Ltd in association with Auto Studi of Italy. And then we have our
company called Lemonn, which is the IT division of the group.
How many plants do you have in the country?
have 10 factories. And for JCBL per se, we have 2 in Chandigarh, MSL has 2
facilities. In the South we have a separate tipper manufacturing facility with
Marrel. We have 3 plants located in Nalagrah, HP, two are pharmaceutical, one
is bus AC. We have our 5 plants in
Lalru, out of which one is the component plant, the other is fiberglass, seating
and window frame. We have a plant down South in Sriperumbudur where we
are making tippers . A plant is being commissioned at Vijayawada for buses.
Please elaborate on your tipper business.
On the tipper’s space, we are making tippers and tip-trailers
for all leading manufacturers in Europe and India in a very niche segment. We
don’t want to do on-road tippers. We want to do more of off-road tippers
because the margins are better there and that calls for a real design and
somebody will pay me money if there is a real design. Just to give you an
example, we designed a 14cubic metre tipper with our technology, approximately
a tonne lighter than a conventional tipper which means payload goes up.
Are MSL seats that your company manufactures
more for captive consumption?
40pc is for us and 60pc of the seats that I make go to various Road Transport
Undertakings, OEMs like Tata Motors. There are a lot of body builders around
the belt. So that keeps me efficient and gives me enough volumes of scale. Then
we do a lot of components. We supply these components to almost all body
builders in India like emergency hammers, locks, grab rails, roof hatches,
interior systems, lighting systems etc.
Do you also make parts for the vintage car
make parts for the vintage car restoration industry in the US like Mustangs,
Chevy Impalas etc. We are making dash pads for Mustangs, probably one of the
largest manufacturers of dash pads today for Mustangs. This is a very small
part of our business, but it gives me a lot of thrill to look into the
business. We do dash pads, steering wheels, rubber trim etc.
What is prompting you to get into so many
called smart diversification, There was cash surplus coming into the books. We
needed to invest somewhere. So went into the aligned line strategy i.e. to make a good bus body I need materials like
good cheap metal, I have it in-house. I need good seats, I have a company for
that. I need an excellent fiberglass, I already have that. I need components
and interiors, I already have that. So if I need partners for this quest, I
have brought in partners.
Are you looking forward to the bus codes that
are coming by April 2011?
I was looking forward to it for a while now.
I’m glad that it’s finally coming. It will bring a level-playing field to the
industry. Today, I might be making buses for years now with a standard
specification thinking that I have a brand to protect. I lose out to somebody
who doesn’t have a specification in place. So, from that perspective, I feel
it’s a very welcome move.
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