Feature

Pack Leader

By reimagining a once declining market of steel pipes, APL Apollo Tubes hacked out its lead position

Vishal Koul

The Kaushambi office of APL Apollo Tubes is humming with the Indian Premier League (IPL) vibe. There are cut outs and posters of the Delhi Capitals, and staff wear the team’s jerseys. The steel tubes and pipes company is debuting as a sponsor this season, with Rs.80 million for the Delhi team.

The chairman, Sanjay Gupta, looks excited. He has to award the Man of the Match trophy this evening, for a game between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla ground. But this is not all that gets him animated. He is also keen to talk about his company’s growth over the past eight years or so. APL Apollo has grown to be a billion dollar top-line company, with an estimated revenue of over Rs.70 billion for FY19. This is an improvement of nearly 3x from Rs.25.7 billion in FY14. The bottom-line has also nearly tripled from Rs.580 million to Rs.1.5 billion over the same period (See: On a roll). 

“I spend around 30-40 days each year in markets such as Germany, Japan, and China scouting for insights and new technologies,” says Sanjay. Such hunts have ensured that APL Apollo has earned an edge in several categories of steel tubes such as hollow sections and pre-galvanised (GP) pipes with technologies such as direct forming technology (DFT) and Tricoat.

Anubhav Gupta AVP, project advisory, Emkay globalSanjay is more than willing to explain every innovation at the company. “Look at this steel door frame. This (a hollow-section design with strength similar to a solid section one) is our patented product. We are selling three million a year today. Two years back, this market didn’t exist. I want to replace wood frames with this (the industry sells door frames worth an estimated Rs.1 trillion every year),” he says. The hollow-section costs 50% less than a wooden frame. “Half of the market (for hollow section of 3 MT and GP of 1 MT) to

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