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Mechemco, the House of Performance Resins, can now propose, in addition to its own resins, a complete range of complementary products that make it a key player on the Indian market.
(Published on June 2008 – JEC Magazine #41)
Based in Mumbai, Mechemco has two resin production units on the outskirts of the city. The company is today in a phase of consolidation following several years of uninterrupted growth. The company began its commercial production of resins in 1983 with brand name Mechster.
A player with influence
The complementarity of the product offerings and the extent of the range make Mechemco a key player on the Indian market for composite materials. The resin production capacities of the two production sites amount, subsequent to the latest investments, to over 15,000 MT per annum, and 1 MTS to 20 MTS batch capacity (by way of comparison, production back in 1983 amounted to barely 360 MT). Pradip Thakkar, its Chairman, is also the founder Chairman of the Polyester Resin Manufacturers’ Association of India. The company, of course, has all the R&D facilities required for the development of new resins as well as control labs for guaranteeing the quality of the products all year round.
The company is solidly established and always in forefront amongst the local major producers. Be that as it may, Mechemco is not content to ply its trade solely in India but has expanded its business to take in countries such as Singapore, Europe (Ireland, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Great Britain), Syria, Saudi Arabia and Gulf Countries and Puerto Rico. Now aiming to reach Central America and Latin America as well as Russia and Eastern Block countries. Exports, indeed, represent more than 50% of company activity, bearing in mind nonetheless that the export share has proportionately reduced on account of the strong development of the Indian market.
MR. PRADIP THAKKAR: Despite the constraints related to the local regulations and the protected economy, it is important that Mechemco keep growing at a reasonable pace, based purely on technical product innovation and strong in-house R&D, while most importantly keeping in touch with the international trends and developing very strong business acumen.
Mechemco takes pride in the fact that all its resin systems were developed 100% in-house. We believe the company’s growth model not only involves supplying the resins, but also doing our best all along the value chain to satisfy end users and promote product acceptance. This can be achieved through close contact with our customers and end users, and through good understanding of their performance requirements.
JCM: Do you plan to integrate your business processes?
P. T.: Mechemco considers it important to completely integrate all activities, to rationalize the business processes so as to reach optimum efficiency and take advantage of the available opportunities.
JCM: Which sectors and activities do you intend to develop? Which sectors will be explored in particular?
P. T.: Mechemco has been traditionally very strong in its high value-added products and specialty markets, i.e. chemical-resistant applications, electrical applications, flame-retardant resins, and UV-stable resins for skylighting and gelcoats. In the last decade, Mechemco forayed into casting resins and especially solid surface resins, which helped us to develop a very strong product line in the international market. Simultaneously, vinylesters and gelcoats were also developed in-house. The automotive and mass transport industry has been another major area where we constantly innovate to meet price and performance requirements. The building and construction industry has also been a major area of interest, while our R&D efforts are currently focusing on wind energy and infrastructure applications. Pultrusion and filament winding processes have been generating a strong demand for resins in the past few years.
JCM: What are Mechemco’s most dynamic sectors today?
P. T.: Mechemco caters to the diverse needs of the composite industry in India and holds a very respectable position there. The company is not looked upon as a mere resin supplier but as a guiding partner for application development, processing and even final evaluation by composite processors. These expectations come from the very high level of technical capability, expertise and commitment of Mechemco’s team.
As part of this commitment to the industry, we continue to develop new resin systems to meet new needs in performance characteristics, applications and processes.
As mentioned earlier, Mechemco is focusing on automotive, mass transport, wind energy and infrastructure applications. We are also aware of the growth potential in the Indian aerospace industry, especially in the wake of the open sky policy implemented by the Government of India.
JCM: How important are exports to you?
P. T.: We consider exports to be important. While exports offer extra volumes, they help our team produce materials that are used internationally under totally different climatic conditions.
The newer requirements help us keep abreast with international trends as there is always much to learn from every new customer and market. Mechemco even works in close collaboration with its overseas customers.
With the ever-increasing confidence from our overseas customer base, export markets have a large share in our resin business. We have direct customers in Europe, West Asia, the Gulf and the Far East, and even in Central America.
JCM: What is driving the resin market today, both inside and outside India?
P. T.: Infrastructure, wind energy, chemical equipment, telecommunications and transport (both automotive and mass transport) have been the main market drivers in India. Building and construction also offers potential business. Outside India, there have been other drivers like marine applications and cast polymers. These industries should develop over the next decade in India.
JCM: How is the resin sector progressing in the Asia Pacific region?
P. T.: The resin sector has progressed very well in the Asia Pacific region. In these regions, local resin producers have developed resin systems and built capacities to meet the needs of the growing composite market. Big international players have also put up capacities in some regions, and investment plans are in the pipeline for India. The big multinational resin companies from Europe and North America have had a very limited success in the Far East but have been more successful in the Middle East.
The Asia Pacific region has sufficient capacities for resin raw materials. Resin manufacturing is essentially a nonpolluting industry and capacities could be easily built up as the market grows. It is worth mentioning that there are currently more than 300 resin manufacturers in China capable of catering to the huge growth of demand in their country.
As for India, there are more than 100 manufacturers ranging from small to big volumes who have been able to keep up with the pace of the local market demand.
Some of the Chinese and Indian resin manufacturing facilities cater to the button industry – which has grown alongside the garment industry. It is important to note that until recently, as per the government policy, resin manufacturing was reserved for the small-scale industry, thus limiting investments. The government has since realized that this reservation impairs growth and has thus made the necessary changes. Therefore, Indian resin manufacturers should now benefit from a major expansion and consolidation period. With the available resources and demands, Indian resin businesses are bound to grow at a faster pace than what has been observed over the past five years, and will surely catch up with the neighbouring countries in the years to come.
JCM: What is your strategy for Mechemco’s development?
P. T.: We are on a big investment and consolidation path to create a world-class production and R&D facility. We definitely expect the process to accelerate with mergers and joint ventures. We have a very sound model and are highly focused on our core business. Beyond resins manufacturing, our superior technical skills lie in facilitating a total support system for our customers from beginning to end.
JCM: How do you see Mechemco’s future?
P. T.: Our vision is to serve the global composite industry in a socially responsible way.
Composites should continue to grow in the Asia Pacific region. There has been more than 20% growth in many of the Asian markets. The Indian market has a long way to go and should see sustained growth over the next decade despite the global slowdown. Mechemco should continue to develop improved resins and expand its capacities to drive the industry’s growth.
We plan a capacity build-up of 50,000 TPA over the next few years to meet the growing demand for our products in both local and international markets.
Mechemco today employs just over 100 staff and last year posted a turnover of around 30 million dollars.
As well as cultivating the breadth of its range, Mechemco has striven to remain close to its market and its customers. Its management freely speaks of “tailoring resins” and uses the language of cuisine to define what it produces. With highly qualified team comprising of Polymer Technologist Dr. Pradeep Joshi and Materials Scientist Dr. Chaitanya Shah, Mechemco has consistently been developing , optimizing and evolving resin formulations and production Mechemco today, has all it takes to cater to every market - including chemical industries, infrastructure, automotive, building & construction, electrical and electronic industries, marine and railway, sports & leisure, and wind energy - and every process, notably hand lay-up & spray-up, filament winding, RTM/VARTM, pultrusion, SMC/DMC/BMC, infusion, and vacuum bagging. This depth of expertise enables its sales teams to support its customers in their specific development projects. This is a key selling point in an environment where the requisite skills are not necessarily abundant. Mechemco also runs a Technical Centre with fully equipped product show room to organize group demonstrations and training courses providing state-of-the-art knowledge to participants.
A comprehensive product range
Over time, Mechemco has built up a highly comprehensive product portfolio. Alongside the many resins and additives that it produces or markets itself (unsaturated polyester resins, vinyl ester resins, solid surface resins, flame retardant resins, speciality resins, gelcoats, tooling resins & gelcoats, coating resins, shrink control & low profile additives, topcoat additives, promoters and inhibitors), the company also represents a dozen or so foreign companies whose products - including gelcoat sprayers, RTM machines, processing materials, and consumables - neatly complement the existing range. This distribution aspect of the business was conceived more in terms of a complementary customer service rather than as a separate and distinct activity. Mechemco is no doubt at a turning point in its history, since both the company’s size and its image – following the ongoing consolidation – will make it a far higher profile, and consequently more exposed, market player. The company will increasingly find itself going head-to-head with the international corporate giants in the sector, for what is likely to be a whole new ball game.