JCB India is a multi-award winning manufacturer of earthmoving and construction equipment. Founded in 1979, it established its first factory in Delhi-NCR and introduced backhoe loaders to India. Through its journey spanning close to four decades, JCB India today has grown to include five state-of-the-art factories as well as an in-house design centre. The company now manufactures a wide range of world-class equipment, not only for India but also for global markets.
The factory in Delhi-NCR is now the world’s largest plant for backhoe loaders, as well as JCB India’s headquarters where Vipin Sondhi — Managing Director and CEO — and his team work every day to keep the organisation thriving.
The CEO Magazine: What was your professional background leading up to, and including, your current role?
Vipin: I’ve been with JCB India as Managing Director and CEO for over ten years. Prior to that I was with an American multinational, which was then the world’s largest manufacturer of compressors for air conditioning and refrigerators. Before that I was with one of India’s largest steel makers, Tata Steel and with a joint venture of Honda, manufacturing portable gensets. So essentially I’ve been in the manufacturing industry in one form or another, right through my career.
What have been some of the significant milestones during your time with the company and what would you highlight as your greatest achievement?
I would say the first great achievement for the business was developing a collaborative working relationship between the world headquarters for JCB and the Indian arm — which has since grown into its largest business. That has now become completely seamless, with communication taking place at all levels every day. As India’s market has grown and opened up to new markets, we have moved from thinking domestically to thinking globally — but we’re still providing what local markets require, with global quality.
"We have moved from thinking domestically to thinking globally — but we’re still providing what local markets require, with global quality.” – Vipin Sondhi
I’m also very proud of the success we’ve had in driving the ‘Made in India’ initiative. JCB is India’s leading manufacturer of construction and earthmoving equipment, and we now export to more than sixty-five countries. We also have hundreds of engineers working on design innovation; up from fifty or sixty, ten years ago. We have launched new and innovative India-centric products, opened new factories, and invested in technology. We have also built and supported an indigenised supply chain for the manufacturing of its products in India, with more 385 world-class Indian suppliers aligned with JCB. I’m also proud that we have become a more gender diverse operation, as manufacturing has been a male dominated area for quite some time. We now have many excellent lady engineers working in factories, and in other roles.
How would you describe the working culture instilled at JCB?
Our company DNA revolves around a sense of urgency, family values, and never being content — we have to keep improving. People and products are critical pillars upon which our success and innovation is based. So it’s an entrepreneurial culture — it’s empowered, talented, young people who form the JCB organisation.
JCB is a family-owned business, and many of our customers and suppliers are also family-owned businesses, therefore we work very closely with a strong set of family values like trust, empathy, and collaboration. These values flow through everything we do and we find that our employees and partners stay with us for a long time, some over multiple generations, because we know them personally. Together we’ve been through thick and thin, and ensured that we’ve had the best processes, the best equipment,
the best technology, and support.
How important are your key suppliers to the success of JCB?
A lot of our performance comes from our suppliers. It therefore becomes critical that we work together as partners and maintain close working relationships. We engage with our suppliers very early in our product development process so that they understand our goals, and this also speeds up the overall process. Finally, we ensure communication with our suppliers on a regular basis, in all aspects of operations, so there are no surprises as they have been part of the whole process.
Looking to the future, what are your plans for the company’s growth? What strategies have you put in place, to achieve this?
The first quarter of 2016 has been interesting, and after four years of sustained contraction, it is now witnessing growth again. The green shoots continue to be more visible, and we are hopeful of seeing stronger growth in the future. However, no matter whether it’s during a downturn or an upturn, we continue to introduce new products so that the value to the customer is continual, not sporadic. That ensures our relationships remain strong and supported. With our global products, we always ensure that the technology is not in any way compromised for customers in the emerging markets. Aspirations are equal, and everybody should have access to the same information and products.