29 March 2020


Our ambition is to touch Rs 500 crore in five years time



The pioneers of protective coatings and floor toppings in India since 1976, Cipy offers a myriad of products based on a variety of polymers such as polyurethane, epoxy, mcu and polyurea for a variety of applications in diverse market segments such as automotive, pharma, infrastructure, healthcare, oil, gas, power, electronics, engineering, textile and chemical industries. SUBASH CIPY, MANAGING DIRECTOR CUM INVENTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE, CIPY POLYURETHANES, offered CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES a peek into his extraordinarily inspiring life story.




From operating out of a shed in 1976 with a capital investment of $200 to your current state of affairs, an industry with Rs 100 crore plus turnover, yours is a remarkable achievement.


Yes, I started Cipy in the most modest way. I did my chemical engineering from Thrissur in the seventies. Kerala was called as God’s own Country, but the Gods really neglected us. When I passed out in 1975,there was no prospering industry in the state and so we had to come out of the state. We had only two options in front of us, either go to the Gulf or to Mumbai, but I proceeded to Pune. Pune was a hub for mechanical engineering graduates and so, being a chemical engineer,I struggled to get a job. I even tried my luck at Bombay for six months, but had faced some health issuesand had to come back to Pune. Being jobless for 18 months, I decided it was time to start something of my own. At that time, one of my friends working at NCL introduced me to a scientist who had developed the first polyurethane coating, which was incidentally the subject of my project which I did during the final year of engineering. I went to meet the scientist. From there my long journey started. I knew it was a tough job to start an industry. I started Cipy on a nano scale in a 600 sq. ft. tin shed with a capital of Rs. 10,000. I had to face a lot of hard ships, heart breaks and success came after a decade. Six years were spent in absolute hibernation and then I decided that I had to develop something innovative if I had to be successful. Since then from an engineer I turned into a scientist. It so happened that I was surveying the paints market scenario in India and observed that companies like Asian Paints, British Paints and Shalimar offered wood coatings, wall coatings, metal coatings and roof coatings but were not bothered to offer any coating for the concrete floors. Sensing a big break through in an untapped market, I developed the first floor coating in India in 1982. This was the time when people started asking me where was the need for coatings on concrete floors – for them the floor was a place where everything had to be dumped and swept the next day. I metamorphosed the industrial floors from a place of contempt to a place of admiration. However, selling this novel concept was quite a tough one and there were no takers. Luckily for me,at that time, Maruti was launching a new car, Zen and calling for dealers. A friend of mine, an architect, introduced me to a Pune dealer who was refurbishing his workshop to receive Zen. We did the first floor coating in India, coating on the floors with Polyurethane coating which made the floors looking attractive and resistant to oils and fuels. The showroom was inaugurated by the Japanese director of Maruti who was so impressed with the coating that he invited me to Delhi and subsequently got me to attend all Maruti workshops across India. That is how we started catering to the automobile industry. Since then there has been no looking back.




Tell us about the company’s growth into the entity as it is today?


Much of that came when the country really opened up following the economic liberalisation in 1991. So when companies like Ford, Toyota and GM came to India, we got plenty of opportunities. To them, we could easily sell the concept, as they were coming from such countries which were quite familiar with floor coatings. Then we got entries into Indian companies like Bajaj Auto, Mahindra etc. Today we are doing rather nicely at around Rs. 120 crore. We have an overwhelmingly large  presence, almost 95 percent, in the automobile industry. The last job we did was for Honda Car for an area of around 16 lakh  sq. ft. We have done flooring installations to the extent of around 1 billion sq. ft. across the country for varied industries ranging from automobiles, pharma, Food & Beverages industries.




Could you talk about your products and their features?


During the hibernation period of six years, which I spoke of, when there was zero output I was totally focused on studying new technologies like polyurea, hybrid EPUs and epoxies. So from polyurethane, we went into the multiple polymer technology, each with different end applications. Polyurea, for example, is for podium waterproofing which we have done at the Terminal 2 in Mumbai airport on the roofs where water will not seep through concrete slabs over which trees are planted. Polyurea has the highest root penetration resistance among the contemporary coatings. Then we ventured into car park coatings. In Delhi, for instance, we have done it for the Select City Mall. In the case of airports we have done work for GMR and for GVK. Wood coatings, which was my first product, have been re-launched in Kerala and Bengaluru at retail shops. In terms of product ranges, we have floor coatings; we have wood coatings and waterproofings, cementitious underlays, polyurea and then we have sealants for the construction industry, polyurethanes and polysulphides. For thermal power stations, we have elastomeric polyurethane coating specifically for cooling towers which are always exposed to marine environment and the coatings prevent the concrete from deterioration (corrosion). In power sector we are currently doing work for BGR Energy, Gammon and Tata power.




So in which other areas can your products be used for application?


As regards floor coatings, we have moved to Food & Beverages segment where we have developed thermal shock resistant flooring. We are doing flooring for Cadburys, Coca Cola, Pepsi etc.Polyurea and polyurethane coatings find applications in water, wastewater, power and infrastructure. Sealants find applications in construction industry. Protective coatings are used to prevent corrosion of metals.



Which of your products is in the most demand?


Floor coatings, naturally. For floor coatings, we are No.1 in India, followed by Fosroc, Sika, BASF etc. We have a big presence in sectors such as automobiles, pharmaceuticals, Food & Beverages, engineering etc. Similarly, we enjoy the market leader status in polyurea as well as elastomeric polyurethanes.




What are the technologies you are looking to introduce in the market?


In terms of new launches we are looking at something that will emit fragrance continually such as in places like Metros and airports. Suppose a person has smoked in a room and you enter it after an hour the smell lingers. This technology will help absorb such odour. We are currently working sylilated polyurethanes where PU prepolymers are blocked with silanes to make one component elastomeric coatings. A lot of research is going in MCU chemistry at our end. Polyaspartic is one technology which we had recently introduced.




What is the emphasis you place on innovation and R&D? As a company where is your expenditure on R&D?


We spend roughly 2 percent on R&D. You can very well understand the emphasis we place on R&D considering the fact that from an engineer, I turned into a full-time formulation scientist. I look after all our R&D activities. Over the last four decades, we have developed over 300 products. We have one of the finest R&D lab, well equipped with all sophisticated instruments.




Have you targeted the construction sector as an area of business?


Yes, in fact, we have the entire range of construction chemicals, from plasticisers to underlays. However, we have not targeted that segment, as it is highly competitive, except for specific projects. When Reliance came up with the first CDMA project, we were involved in it, developing a cement based grout for filling up the wide joints on the roads. We will be now venturing into construction chemicals market with specific focus on expansive, non-shrink grouts.



Tell us about your manufacturing units?


Our manufacturing unit is located at a place called Shirwal which is 70 kms away from our corporate office at Bhosari. Our factory, the most modern among the construction chemical companies, occupies over 80,000 sq.ft. built on 6 acres of land. The capacity is around 200 tonnes per month for different products. We have enough space for expansion, should the need arise.




What is the growth rate of your industry?

For the last three years, our topline has been stagnant due to poor economy.However,in this year we did grow by 21 percent. We are looking at 25-30 percent growth rate for the next few years.




What is the emphasis you place on sustainability?


We use raw materials mainly from the renewable resources. For example, Castor oil and cashew net shell liquid are used in plenty in our manufacturing processes. In many of our floor coatings’  formulations, there are no solvents and so there are no emissions. Most of the products we manufacture are either solvent-free or waterborne and so they are environment friendly. We use green chemistry where no hazardous substances are employed.




What are your ambitions for your business?


We want to maintain the status of number one in floor coatings and Polyurea segments and want to tread through unknown paths. We want to grow in the retail market for our wood coatings and waterproofing products. We want to touch Rs 500 crores from the current Rs 120 crores in the next five years.


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