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“We want to be the best.”: Ajay Mandahr

Escorts Construction Equipment was founded more than 50 years ago in 1960. Since then, the company has remained dedicated to developing solutions that are intelligent, environmentally friendly and geared towards value. Presently one of the leading manufacturers of tractors along with agricultural machinery, construction, material-handling equipment and railway equipment, Escorts Construction Equipment’s CEO Ajay Mandahr is still pushing for more. “We want to be the best,” he says matter-of-factly.

Ajay Mandahr, CEO of Escorts Construction Equipment Ltd

Ajay is a high-achieving, results-oriented businessman. So when he says he wants something, people listen. And he motivates them to want it too. This is effective leadership 101.

After more than 25 years in high-level positions, including leading turnarounds in sales and marketing, developing new product categories and business models in top companies such as Toyota Material Handling, L&T, Indian Aluminium and Manitou South Asia, leadership has become second nature to Ajay.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best organisations and take away some of the best practices,” he shares. “All of these practices have been able to be customised to my current role. There are fundamentals, which I’ve acquired over the course of my career, including valuable feedback, that have helped shape the leader I am today.”

When he signed on with Escorts in 2016, Ajay’s objective was crystal clear. He had to find a way to increase profit and ensure customer and stakeholder satisfaction for the company to come out healthier than ever. While the goal was simple, getting there was a bit tricky. “Achieving my objective was a complicated science,” Ajay says.

“How could we cut down on costs without sacrificing quality? What would make us more competitive? Part of it was finding our point of difference in the market. Innovation has been key here. Our strength is frugal engineering and our R&D is improving further to keep abreast of the competition. Today, our products are delivering better
value to customers.”

Escorts is also delivering environmentally friendly innovation. In September 2019, it debuted India’s first hybrid-tractor concept. Powered by both fuel and battery, this innovative piece of farm equipment reduces emissions while increasing productivity. It follows the successful launches of a hybrid backhoe and rural transport vehicle released earlier that year.

Ajay Mandahr, CEO of Escorts Construction Equipment Ltd

Looking towards the future, Escorts is honing in on uplifting the industry in terms of safety. “It is very important. We want to introduce more technology into the products to make them safer,” Ajay explains. “We want safety to be the norm. We want safety to become synonymous with Escorts.”

These are all pertinent steps in Escorts’ lofty expansion initiative. “We aspire to be a US$1 billion company in the next four to five years. We are looking at expanding portfolios in material handling, earthmoving and compaction,” he says. “So in all of these, we want to be the best in the world – the best in the world from India.”

“We aspire to be a US$1 billion company in the next four to five years.”

With its sights set on the bigger picture and realising that securing capital will always be a challenge, Ajay decided Escorts would expand its reach and bottom line by moving into exports.

“If you’re going global, you need global products and global technology. We have that. Our equipment is at optimal standards,” he says. “We make machines that are very modern. Innovation is very important to Escorts and helps us stay competitive in the market.”

With its team of dedicated and motivated professionals, Escorts puts the customer at the forefront of everything it does. “We are constantly keeping our customers’ best interests in mind,” Ajay shares. “If we make a mistake, we want to find out where we went wrong and see how we can do it better next time. It’s all about making our customers happy.”

Significant partnerships also play a role in Escorts’ success. In fact, Ajay says they’re absolutely critical. “We talk about quality. We talk about performance. We talk about safety,” he says.

“Well, we couldn’t achieve any of this without our suppliers like WINCHOUSE India and Kalyani Maxion Wheels. Due to our business model, we are highly dependent on them. Our inventory is quite large and we work with them to customise our products. By having multiple vendors, we’re able to sustain market growth and stay ahead of our competitors. ‘Together we grow’ remains the guiding principle for these relationships.”

Behind all of the innovation and motivation to be world-class is a simple commitment to change the world – at least in India. Escorts has consistently worked to accelerate India’s socio-economic growth through its presence with one main goal in mind – to uplift the lives of its people.

“We’re trying to take this company forward on the philosophy of care, concern and compassion,” Ajay shares. “We want to remain true to our values and stimulate energy behind those words to keep going in the right direction.”

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Kalyani Maxion Wheels


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