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Man of steel

Vinay Umarji 

Mukesh Bhandari’s early research experience has stood him in good stead.

Mukesh Bhandari has made Electrotherm (India) Ltd. a formidable player in the foundry, steel and automobile industries.

An electrical engineer from Indore University, Bhandari started his career as a Research Assistant with BHEL/RDOEI Bhopal in 1972. Later he worked with companies like Automatic Engineers (Indore), Electronic Controls Corporation (Ahmedabad) and GEC (I) Limited (Calcutta) in various capacities for 10 years.

In 1982 he started a small company to service metallurgical equipment. Bhandari has never looked back since, his service shop soon becaming a manufacturing unit to make metal melting equipment designed and developed by himself. His success in developing increasingly sophisticated equipment transformed the Indian metal melting industry and eroded the hold of imported equipment and services.

Being the largest supplier of induction melting furnaces for steel making, Electrotherm also set up a steel plant of its own, with the incentives offered by the government after the Kutch earthquake providing the company with an opportunity.

Making most of the big demand-supply gap in steel in Gujarat, especially for long products, Electrotherm began to grow rapidly. The group set up the steel plant (with an investment of more than Rs 1,000 crore) in Gujarat — instead of in states like Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal or Karnataka which are rich in iron ore. Bhandari chose Gujarat because it is a big consumer of steel, most of which came from outside the state.

Today, Electrotherm comprises three divisions: Engineering & projects; special steels and pipes; and electric vehicles. The induction furnace products have been so far sold in 27 countries.

The company has also established a 180,000 tonne per year Ductile Iron pipe making capacity in the Kutch plant, apart from expanding its distribution network within Gujarat for TMT bars, which are sold under the brand name ‘Electro TMT Plus’, and within India for DI pipe sales.

Electrotherm has also completed the acquisition of HANS Ispat Ltd, a steel manufacturing plant at Bhuj (Kutch) at an investment of 60 crore. Besides, the company has also acquired a facility for the manufacture of transmission line towers at Karjan, Baroda, Gujarat with an investment of around Rs 25 crore.

Bhandari’s electrical engineering expertise has led Electrotherm’s electric vehicles division to become India’s largest manufacturer of electric two-wheelers, marketed under the brand name ‘YoBykes’.

An ardent flyer, Bhandari is a registered HAM hand and constantly looks for new entrepreneurial avenues. His ventures also include a flying training institute and an academy to promote microlight flying, among other things.

First Published: Wed, August 04 2010. 20:21 IST
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