Yadupati Singhania is a visionary industrialist who has played a pivotal role in the evolution of cement in India. The Chairman and Managing Director of JK Cement is a philanthropist and entrepreneur of no small measure, with an enterprise that has brought forth many positive changes and efforts that have not gone unrecognised, touching lives in some of the most remote corners of the country.
Recognised as one of the leading cement manufacturers in India, JK Cement has supported India’s multi-sectoral infrastructure needs on the strength of its product excellence, customer orientation and technology leadership. With over four decades of experience in cement manufacturing, JK Cement is an affiliate of the multidisciplinary industrial conglomerate, JK Organisation.
Born to industry doyen Dr Gaur Hari Singhania and Sushila Singhania, Yadupati earned his bachelor’s degree in technology in 1976 from IIT Kanpur, one of India’s premier technology institutes, and then joined the family business. He learned the ropes through toiling on the shop floor under the watchful eye of industry stalwarts, Sohanlal Singhania, Sir Padampat Singhania and his father.
Starting his career with the cotton and cement divisions of the firm, he gained a 360-degree perspective early on, working on technical, commercial and marketing aspects of the business. This rigorous training shaped his professional character and gave him a penchant for details.
Yadupati’s foresight and acute understanding of the business environment got him interested in the cement industry. He could sense the immense potential it held in the fast-growing economy of the country. That meant establishing more cement plants to meet the increasing demand. A task easier said than done, also because the Singhania scion had exacting requirements.
He visited several national and international cement manufacturing units and kept himself updated with the latest trends and technology to get firsthand information. He envisioned a world-class plant, a wide range of superior building products and a global presence. But he wanted it without the exploitation of men, resources or environment. So, he did not just build plants but a utopian world around it.
Under Yadupati’s leadership, JK Cement has recorded various accomplishments, positioning itself as a premier contributor in the cement industry. In over 30 years of service to the country, he has built six cement plants across India in Nimbahera, Mangrol, Gotan (all in Rajasthan), Mudhol (Karnataka), Jhajjar (Haryana) and Katni (Madhya Pradesh), generating direct and indirect employment for several thousands. With an installed grey cement capacity of 10.5 million tonnes per annum, the company is one of the leading cement manufacturers in India.
Going global and expanding beyond the country’s shores has been Yadupati’s long-nurtured goal. In 2014, JK Cement launched its first international venture, JK Cement Works (Fujairah) FZC.
“The plant was the first composite dual-process cement plant in the world, designed to switch between white and grey cement as per market demand,” he explains.
The plant at Fujairah has a capacity of 0.6 million tonnes per annum for white cement, with a flexibility to change over its operation to produce up to one million tonnes per annum of grey cement. Currently, supply is mostly catering to demand in neighbouring countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. This capacity expansion has made JK Cement the third largest white cement producer in the world.
The plants established by Yadupati are industrial success stories today. This is a testament to his belief in sustainable growth and co-creating value for the nation by investing in cutting-edge technology, a highly skilled workforce and the environment. “The organisation is conscious of its carbon footprint and makes consistent efforts to run its operations efficiently with measurable outcomes,” Yadupati explains. “It is also mindful of its energy footprint.”
The company was the first to install a waste heat recovery power plant to manage power requirements and to invest significantly in green power generation, thus displaying a corporate conscience. Today, at its different locations, the company has captive power generation capacity of more than 125MW, which includes 23MW of waste heat recovery power plants.
As one of the India’s leading cement companies, JK Cement is consistently growing its capacity and enriching the product portfolio. Superior products and a strong brand name, an extensive marketing and distribution network and the technical know-how represent the company’s abiding strengths. The company’s factories have also been updated with the latest, state-of-the-art technology and new manufacturing capacities. More than 70% of JK Cement’s production capacity is new, thanks to Yadupati’s foresight, for he recognised this need several years ago.
JK White Cement is a pioneering initiative of Yadupati Singhania, being the first white cement product in India, which was limestone based and manufactured through the dry process.
The white cement plant at Gotan, Rajasthan, came into being over three decades ago, inspired by Yadupati’s vision of doing something different in the industry.
Gotan was a daring venture the company undertook under his tutelage, including dealing with rough terrain. The project team struggled for the most basic amenities like food, water and shelter. Moreover, in the early 1980s, the concept of white cement itself was unheard of and attracted prejudice of being classified as a luxury product. However, unflinching in his belief, Yadupati led from the front and kept the team morale high.
The plant has grown from an initial production capacity of 50,000 tonnes in 1984 to its current production capacity of 610,000 tonnes per annum due to continuous process improvements and modifications. Over the years, the company also launched value-added products such as JK Wall Putty, JK Super Grip and JK PrimaxX.
Yadupati has always been ahead of his time. Over two decades ago, when skills development was unheard of, he set up vocational training institutes to develop and create employability for the country’s youth, who are now contributing to nation building. These include the JK Institute of Technology (Rajasthan), JK Centre for Technician Training (Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh), JK Industrial Training Centre (Kanpur), and several other industrial training institutes in both states. The industrial training institutes (ITIs) set up by Yadupati have trained almost 4,000 students and placed more than 3,000 trainees so far, in both the government and private sectors.
Developing the country’s youth and creating employability for them through skills development has been Yadupati’s vision and passion for more than 25 years. “Upskilling has been a vital cog in the community development vision of JK Cement,” he says. Yadupati pioneered the cause of bringing a large chunk of the uneducated and unskilled youth into mainstream development, by harnessing their vast potential.
In the past 25 years, the institutes have not only helped several youths transform their lives but also empowered them to play an active role in the nation’s transformation. He plans to take this commitment further to other states of the country by establishing more vocational training institutes.
Foreseeing the urgent need for a training centre for the cement industry, Yadupati also set up the Regional Training Centre (RTC) at Nimbahera, Rajasthan. RTC is a premier training centre in North India promoted by JK Cement with assistance from the World Bank, DANIDA and the Indian government as a unique human resource development project in the cement industry. It is equipped with modern training aids and caters to the skill enhancement and competency developmental needs of more than 25 cement plants of northern India.
The centre has also conducted many tailor-made in-house programs for cement and other industries in India and abroad including Oman Cement, Oman; Star Cement, Dubai; Hama Cement, Syria; Ehdas Sanat Corporation, Iran; and Yemen’s National Cement Company, besides many cement plants in India.
Yadupati has always believed that quality education and knowledge dissemination are critical pillars for nation building, and JK Cement has been prominent in India’s educational landscape for decades. The educational institutions set up by him comprise K-12 schools, universities and technical institutes at various places across the country.
Recognised for his contributions to the cement industry, Yadupati has been honoured with many awards and accolades, including the Life Time Achievement Award at the second Indian Cement Review Awards in 2016, and the title of the Best CEO (Cement Sector) by Business Todayin 2017.