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December - 2007 - issue > Indian Billionaire
In hot pursuit of air conditioners
Michael Paulraj
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Ramesh Suri began his career, along with his brother Lalit Suri, in the car air conditioner business in the early 1980s by importing and assembling air conditioner units chiefly for Maruti Udyog Limited. Subros Limited was established in 1985 as a joint venture between the Suri Brothers, Denso Corporation, Japan and; Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan primarily for supplying car air conditioners to Maruti Udyog Limited in which Suzuki Motor Corporation had a large stake.

Air conditioner manufacturing, not a cool business
Not many in India would have thought of car air conditioners way back in the early 1980s when even room air conditioning was not very common. Even the fundamental Indian mindset usually branded any accessory that was beyond the pale of basic necessities as a luxury and was opposed to its addition to one’s belongings. Therefore the sale of car air conditioners was not very impressive in India, and in the initial years of Subros the company could not expect to grow at a fast rate and the production was below the company’s installed capacity.

However, Maruti Udyog Limited’s policy decision to fit air conditioners as a standard feature in its Zen series of cars in the early 1990s turned the tide in Subros’ favor. Maruti’s decision increased the sale of air conditioner fitted cars and simultaneously pushed up the sale of car air conditioners in India. Subros had begun designing and manufacturing its own car air conditioners in 1986 and Ramesh has never lost his cool since then.

Adaptability, key to superiority
The Indian automobile industry has witnessed high growth rates in the past decade and it is sure to witness substantial growth in the next few years. Car manufacturing is upbeat with a number of new models lined up for launch. Subros is shrewd and is determined to utilize the opportunity to the maximum. The company whose revenues crossed $162.5 million (Rs. 650 crores) in 2005-’06 fiscal has now invested $87.5 million (Rs. 350 crores) in its R&D and has expansion plans at Noida. The heavy investment share in R&D will enable virtual prototyping and simulation of different climatic environments in order to optimize efficiency in design, airflow, and cooling in different climatic conditions.

Ramesh remains focused on the fact that the only way to perk up profitability and maintain a competitive edge in the fast changing business climate in the country is by introducing genuine cost cutting norms and increasing productivity. Subros follows this growth strategy to sustain its numero uno standing in the market. The company’s market oriented business policies are well adapted to match the changing business practices of the twenty first century.

“Denso’s latest technology is used for manufacturing AC systems at Subros. Our strong infrastructure and focus on quality helps in making the best air conditioning systems in India,” claims D. M. Reddy, Chief Executive Officer, Subros.

Astounding growth
Subros has grown into the largest and only integrated manufacturer of auto air conditioning systems in India. It has enlarged its manufacturing range by adding allied accessories like condensers, compressors and heat exchangers amongst others to its array of products.

Ramesh’s able leadership has seen Subros add Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra to the list of its clientele. Ramesh aims at raising the manufacturing capacity to 1,000,000 air conditioner units by 2008 from the present 750,000 units.

When Subros achieved a landmark in July this year by supplying 2.5 million car air conditioning systems to Maruti, Ramesh said, “It has been a long journey since the time we started Subros as a joint venture with Denso and Suzuki, with an assembly unit way back in 1985.” Subros and Maruti have been close partners in business as they both began manufacturing around the same time and have remained valued and trusted partners ever since. The more than two decades long warm relationship has literally helped a large class of car owners stay cool during long journeys when the engine temperatures soared.

Ramesh’s ceaseless pursuit of excellence and standards in the design and manufacture of air conditioners for cars has ultimately led Subros into becoming a pioneer in auto air conditioning in India.

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