Aston Martin’s 'Nawabi' connection
Lucknow-based Chopra Retec Rubber Products has become the exclusive supplier of a critical exhaust suspension part to UK luxury marque, Aston Martin. This development is a strong endorsement of Indian auto suppliers' capabilities.
Almost all the business orders of Chopra Retec Rubber Products – a Lucknow-based exhaust suspension parts maker – comes from Tier 1 and Tier 2 component suppliers. Then last September, a telephone call from the headquarters of Aston Martin in the UK took Kiron Chopra, chairman and managing director, Chopra Retec Rubber Products, by surprise. Aston Martin faced a problem with the suspension hanger of the One-77, its most advanced super sportscar model.
Fifty-six-year-old Chopra learnt that only 77 units of this exclusive model were to be made which meant that exclusivity, Aston Martin’s hallmark, had to be complemented with very high quality. The Indian supplier was given only a couple of weeks to send a prototype for approval. Moreover, Chopra’s team had to meet a tight deadline and some strict parameters if they were to have a chance of bagging the order.
“The pace at which we reacted impressed them to take things forward and they entrusted us with the entire order for their Limited Edition One-77, which we successfully implemented in record time. The scope is immense since the company caters to the top-end luxury segment and is technology driven,” says Chopra.
The volume of the order was small and at a landed cost of an estimated £50 (Rs 3,500 a piece), it was not a big business deal either. But it gave the Indian supplier an opportunity to bag Aston Martin as a long-term client. Chopra says, “By getting this order, Aston Martin has in a sense, shortlisted us as its primary vendor for all future exhaust hanger development and current upgradation of exhaust hangers for existing models.”
After the Aston Martin deal, Chopra Retec has been able to strike another deal in the New Year with the USA-based Tenneco Corporation. Tenneco’s aftermarket business division is looking to source exhaust suspension parts worth one million or around Rs 4.5 crore initially, the first shipment of which leaves in the middle of January 2011. Chopra says he is confident that “this should multiply with time and performance”.
With the latest developments, Chopra Retec Rubber Products is expecting its share in the $1 billion aftermarket exhaust system parts and accessories business to increase significantly.
The company has a presence in Europe and Australia and has recently made an entry in Canada and the US. The addition of new clients and the withdrawal of some big players like Rol Manufacturing from the business brightens the prospects of the Indian supplier in the global market. With 25 global clients, Chopra Retec Rubber Products has an annual turnover of $2 million or Rs 9 crore. Chopra has an ambitious target of trebling the figure over the next year or so on the back of the new clients it has bagged. Chopra Retec also supplies components for ride control systems. The company now aims to sign a joint venture for ride control products. Like many other suppliers, the company is operating at full capacity and is now looking at setting up another facility.
Chopra says, “We do about six million parts a year and have been adding capacity periodically. Now is the time to take a quantum jump and we wish to make that 20 million in the next two years.” A significant part of that business is expected to come from the US. “With the US aftermarket now devoid of its largest player, we see a huge window of opportunity which we have already entered. This is through the top players, who were till now sourcing from different parts of the world but now recognise the advantage of buying from one source, which is us. We had to build a completely new range of products exclusively for the US market to make our offer plausible,” Chopra adds.
Chopra Retec is a 100 percent export-oriented company. Its joint venture partner Retec was its first customer for exhaust hangers in 1979. Retec, a leading German aftermarket exhaust parts distribution company, owns 34 percent in the JV. Chopra feels vindicated with the latest development in his company. His belief is that “Indian manufacturing companies are equally capable, if not better than any other global manufacturer, both in terms of quality and ability to deliver. In fact we have an edge on communication. It is just that the world has not been told about our prowess. Indian companies need to showcase themselves better at global fairs where the Chinese participate.”
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