What I have learnt in the last one year of global uncertainty
To perform in today’s environment one has to have a flexible approach and a bias to action, with the ability to react to the real-time needs of your customers
It was the year 2008 when AMW unveiled its new generation trucks for the Indian market at the Auto Expo. This was a milestone in the Indian trucking industry, as the products emulated global standards at affordable prices.
Little did we know that the euphoria was going to be short-lived and the world would be hit by a financial tsunami that would challenge us all. The 2008 experience instantly put our business model and assumptions to the test, in our endeavour to survive the meltdown.
We built the business model around three core ideas which helped insulate us from the uncertainty in the macro environment. These were innovative products and services, a flexible manufacturing approach to meet market demand and low capital costs to ensure long-term sustainability. These have supported us in becoming the third largest heavy truck manufacturer in India in less than five years, with more than 25,000 trucks on the road today.
As a challenger brand we introduced products which were ahead of their times in terms of build, features and quality. Air-conditioning was a standard feature in all our trucks. At the same time we created new market segments and niche products catering to the specific needs of customers and thereby invented a new positioning strategy.
We adopted a partnership model of manufacturing, thus creating a new business model in the trucking industry. Instead of following a traditional model of vertical integration, we partnered with leading suppliers, which allowed us to adjust production to market demand and gave us access to the best of technology at incremental cost. This enabled the business to focus on evolving customer needs.
This resulted in keeping capital costs low. Since gestation periods in this business are high and interest rates and markets have been unpredictable, this has been a major driver for sustainability.
Going forward, we have realised that long-term planning in a business is directional. To perform in today’s environment one has to have a flexible approach and a bias to action, with the ability to react to the real-time needs of your customers. We as a company are learning to achieve a fine balance between long-term planning and the dynamic needs of the market.
I do feel that any young entrepreneur needs a mentor to guide them in building up the business. I have been fortunate to have a mentor who I admire and who has been a source of inspiration to me during these formative years.
Finally, organisations are built on people. At AMW we strive to nurture an environment where our people are passionate about creating the best trucks.
Anirudh Bhuwalka, MD & CEO, ASIA MotorWorks
(While still in his mid-30s, Anirudh Bhuwalka had decided to take on industry heavyweights Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra and even Volvo Eicher in the heavy commercial vehicles market. His MBA stint at Babson College, Massachusetts — known to spawn the best entrepreneurial talent — probably helped him hone his skills. Not only is Anirudh’s “outsourcing” business model becoming an industry catchphrase, AMW’s rapid success as a challenger brand is also now a test case of grit, gumption and gusto.)