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In the heydays of entrepreneurial development in Andhra Pradesh, the state was a fertile plain for ambitious businessmen who took the long view. This was the 1980s, a period where a number of fledgling enterprises thrived, later to evolve into the well-established industrial groups of today. Among these groups was Nagarjuna Cement Limited (NCLI), which has become a giant among trade organisations in AP and Telangana. From its humble beginnings as a mini-cement plant at Mattapalli in Nalgonda (now Suryapet) District, NCLI has moved forward while making a mark for its impeccable standards for quality and competitive edge. Over the past 40 years NCLI and its sister concerns have come up with products which have augmented the elegance, aesthetics and sophistication of buildings and structures.

Its latest offering is Duradoors, a step away from its more staid, serious days in cement manufacturing to make an ‘entry’ into the world of interiors (pun intended!) Duradoors is manufactured at a state of the art ready-made doors plant, and its contemporary designs and the quality of work is drawing the attention of leading builders and architects of the country.
red was lucky to be able to get a sliver of time to have a chat with Managing Director Mr.K.Ravi, to talk to us a bit about his journey, and NCL’s new product, Duradoors.
On working with NCL industries during the early years. My father started this company. At that time, I was also with him. We were in chemicals, and we thought we should get into building materials. He felt that cement was the right material to venture into. The government had also announced the mini-cement policy. After completing my BE in Electrical Engineering and studying Cement technology, I assisted him in the running of this business. In 2003 he retired and I took over the reins.

How the idea of starting Duradoors came about?
Duradoors was my idea, it's a recent development. My father always felt that we should diversify into various other building materials. He showed us the direction. He felt that India needs lots of housing, and we don't have good wood. So wood substitutes was the need. This product comprises 60% cement, and about 30 % wood. It's a good wood substitute. It has excellent qualities and it's gaining popularity in India. Basically, Duradoors is an extension of my father’s vision to truly diversify.

Opportunities for Duradoors
There is a marked increase in consumer spending on construction and renovation of residential and commercial buildings. This has been a major driving force for the Indian doors market. In India, the housing section accounts for almost 5-6% of Indian GDP. This represents an incredible opportunity & a clear roadmap ahead for Duradoor.
Today, when builders, home-owners or architects are on the lookout for doors, they go through a four-step process: they have to re-install the frame around the door opening,

purchase a shutter from a different company, buy hardware from another company, and coordinate with the builder and get everything installed by a carpenter. Then again, good carpenters are increasingly hard to find. We are facing a scarcity of skilled labour these days. The sons of carpenters don’t become carpenters. Instead they become engineers. Even so, doors used to be restricted to the small scale, an overall very tedious and time-consuming process, wherein the customer had to deal with multiple vendors and also coordinate with builders and carpenters.

Additionally, wood is a big problem in India: all our forests are gone, there is no wood! The material commonly used is Medium density fibreboard (MDF), which is very popular in India. There are many manufacturers for the same in India. But there is a problem. Any wood, not necessarily of excellent quality, they make it like your hair. They press resin to make it. That is the basic material, though there are variations. Normal MDF is not good, It doesn't have water resistance or fire resistance. It absorbs water and swell. There is a need to find new materials & new production processes that can replace the old ways.

Where Duradoors comes in
Duradoors is an innovation that solves both the manpower issue and the materials scarcity. Our doors are made of HDHMR, which we import from Malaysia. Secondly, our production is mechanised. At our factory, we can make 1000 doors in a single shift, and we use international quality hinges and fittings. We are aiming to provide a one stop solution, where we take care of the entire process ourselves right from taking measurements, designing, manufacturing and shipping – shutter, frame, architrave and all. We also provide all required hardware and accessories, and also install the door at the customer’s site using professional installation teams. The whole process, from placing an order to installation, takes three days.

Market’s response to Duradoors
This is a new type of material, very sophisticated, and the market is not familiar with it because Indians have for long had an affinity for wood. Not only is this providing an interesting and much-needed solution to the problem of wood scarcity, it is also better in so many ways. The materials we use, HDHMR, is high density, water-resistant and engineered wood. A Duradoor is above all, durable and long-lasting. We give a lifetime warranty: as long as the company remains, we will take care of your door.

All this being said, we are getting a very good response for Duradoors, from hotels, hospitals and apartments. Though we wouldn't normally encourage it, we have accepted some retail orders from private clients and schools. They have really loved it.

What sets Duradoors apart from its competitors in the business?
Innovation and technology is one of a kind in the country. Designs are stylish and robust, yet environment friendly, elegant and energy efficient. Duradoors last a very, very long time. Duradoor also offers customers a variety of choices as far as designs are concerned. At the outset, we have over 7200 fully customisable options to choose from. More than that, it’s the details that matter: there is a matching frame that comes with the door, and very beautiful fittings imported from abroad. Moreover, the production technique is so sophisticated that we can evoke the same natural, texture and grains as high-quality timber, mimic wood, glass and aluminum equally. We are also coming up with rugged range of fire-resistant doors made from high grade Sanopan boards, built to withstand fires. (This door is pending approval.)

What would you say NCL stands for as a business?
Innovation, Modernity and Quality.
Duradoors was an extension of my father's vision to diversify into other areas of construction as well. What he taught me: just expanding cement alone is not the thing. We should bring innovative materials into the country. Take for example the windows industry, before uPVC, a majority of windows in India were made of wood and installed by carpenters. uPVC has revolutioni sed the window industry, and today the construction industry has shifted in a big way towards using uPVC windows. Also, Bison Panels (areated bricks), are some of the innovations brought into this country for the first time. There is no competition for it. We have 3 factories to meet the demand for this panel. In a similar way, we expect Duradoor will be the first step towards revolutionising the doors industry away from solid wood doors.

A day in your life at Duradoors?
My job is to always look around for innovative building materials. I generally don't attend to the day to day affairs. I strive to identify techn-ology and bring it to this country.

What would your advice be to young business professionals starting out in the manufacturing sector today?
First you have to gain experience by working for someone else at least for sometime. Then be your own boss and start working for yourself. Finally, you get others to work for you.

Hopes and Dreams for NCL in 10 years
I want NCL to be known for its products, and not just as a cement company. I want to see NCL innovating more and diversifying into building materials. Today, ready-mix cement, accounts for 85% of our turnover. In future I want to see a 50-50 between our products and cement.

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