Ashok D’Souza

Ashok D’Souza, Head of Operations, Altendorf India Pvt Ltd shared his views on the Woodtech India 2014 and the Indian market

woodandpaneleurope How has been the response on the first day of the show?
  Ashok D’Souza:On the first day, the morning was not bad but afternoon was slow. But the second and third day should be good keeping in mind the following day is a holiday.
woodandpaneleurope What are your expectations from the show?
  Ashok D’Souza: As far as Altendorf is concerned, it is more about the exposure than actual selling of machines and generating enquiries of course is part of it. We don’t normally tend to sell machines on the show but it is more like opening up to the market. Today the market is expanding in tier two and tier three cities apart from metro cities and somewhere the only way we get contacts and somebody coming from for example Namakkal and Sellum, the interior Tamil Nadu, we would not be able to go there as we would not know them. Regional trade shows are the only way to know them.

woodandpaneleurope How useful the trade shows prove to be?
  Ashok D’Souza: Trade shows are definitely very useful but the point is how many trade shows one can participate in since they cost money. There are some shows that are standard such as Indiawood and Delhiwood and then it’s a question of choosing between the regional shows. So then we have to make a choice.
woodandpaneleurope What are the latest machines you have come up with this year?
  Ashok D’Souza: We have come up with a new machine. Normally in the panel saws the saw blade tilts only in one direction but we now have panel saw where the saw blade tilts in both directions. It is very useful when doing bevel joints, miter cuts, working with big pieces for cutting angles where you don’t need to move the piece around instead you just need to move the saw blade to the other direction.
woodandpaneleurope What do you think of Indian market at present?
  Ashok D’Souza: Indian market is doing well. The woodworking industry in India is still 50 years behind the other developed countries, so it has to catch up, it will grow hopefully. Today no one sleeps on the floor, everyone wants an apartment, a kitchen, a cabinet, furniture etc, so it only has to grow. There is no question of the industry not growing but the only question is at what pace it will grow. Only thing it can change it drastically is only if the FTI retail comes in. If somebody like the Walmart or IKEA comes in with retail then the volumes they require are so high that you have to have large factories to produce only then it is possible. That is one thing that can change the entire scenario otherwise it is not possible.

woodandpaneleurope In terms of market demand comparing the German and Italian industry, how is the demand here in India?
  Ashok D’Souza: In Germany or Europe in general it would be a large plant that would be set up with auto- machines similarly in China, they have big factories. In India it is not like that, in India it has hundred smaller factories. So it is very different from China, Europe or any other places. These big plants will come only if FTI comes. In India we have no big players who make furniture and sells all over India, except a few. In India there are more local and regional players. In Europe it is different as their marketing is all over Europe. In India we don’t export except for handcrafted furniture in places like Jodhpur, Jaipur or in certain particular areas. Generally none of the firms set up here export, it is only some areas they are catering to, so they are smaller. Since the set up is small scale here, the basic machines are more in demand here than the advanced ones.
woodandpaneleurope What other shows will Altendorf participate this year?
  Ashok D’Souza: For this year next will be Index then next year will be Delhiwood in February then again we have to choose between the regional shows.
woodandpaneleurope We have a lot of German, Japanese and Italian technology coming in India. And the Indians tend to have an affinity towards them. What do you think in terms of Indian market?
  Ashok D’Souza: Being a German company I may be a little biased but yes, European technology is still ahead of the technology in other places. There is no doubt about that because most other companies try to copy and when you copy you cannot be 100 per cent but lesser. So The Europeans are still ahead in terms of technology. The difference between the German and Italian technology is narrow.

In case of Altendorf, we have manufacturing plants in Germany, China, Brazil and may be next year we will manufacture in India as well. We went to China and Brazil because of economic reasons which means it is cheaper to manufacture there but there is no quality difference. The machines made in China, Brazil or Germany are the same, there is no difference in quality. We may make some higher end models in Germany but we sell only some of them in India for special application.

woodandpaneleurope Are there any other plans for expansion?
  Ashok D’Souza: We should have come to India this year but due to some commitments in Brazil and China it has been delayed. If we have these four plants then we more or less cover the world. Germany caters to mainly Europe, America, some high end markets like Australia, Canada. Brazil does South America, part of North America. China now has been doing China, whole of Asia, India which is a big area. So if we come to India then first we do India, the SAARC countries, Middle East, then other neighbouring countries.

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