05 June 2020

Table of Contents for Matvantage

Interaction- Rajesh Singh, Partner, Buildcon

We are way forward in gypsum solutions

The latest in construction materials is gypsum due to its Green virtues. With an eye on the growing market for high quality gypsum in India, Buildon launched its branded products in the Indian market. In an exclusive interview RAJESH SINGH, PARTNER, BUILDON, discusses the emerging market for gypsum in India and his company’s innovative products, technologies, and services with SATISH P. CHAVAN.


Major milestones achieved by your company.

Buildon was established around nine years back. We are into diverse businesses and we got into the business of gypsum looking at the quality available in India was so poor we decided to import gypsum plaster. We started trading initially till we actually got into a tie-up with our principals where we have our investments with them, we own part of the factory. Our gypsum commands highest position in terms of purity levels in Indian market. Where other manufacturers does not offer anything over 63 percent purity, we offer 90 percent purity of calcium sulphate in our gypsum. Indian gypsum is brown in color due to mud content and other impurities hence the quality can never be consistent enough in our country.

We manufacture gypsum of high purity which is pure white in color due to which we have the advantage with every large builder in India. We are doing projects with L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji, lodha, Raheja , Omkar, Kolte Patil. Godrej properties and many more. We have our own offices across all major cities in India and are supplying to all major builders in this country.



So essentially your manufacturing base is imported.

Everything is based and packed abroad and is imported into all port cities where we have our own warehouses , right from Nhava Sheva, Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, and Mundra ports. Our warehouses stock the material so time of delivery is one or two days from placing the order, which is the least in the business. Other companies take five to seven days in this business to deliver.



What are the different types of gypsum products you offer in terms of applications.

We have gypsum plaster that goes on to direct applications, now the builder does not need to sand-cement plaster on internal walls, it is direct gypsum plastering. It’s a one coat finish that you can complete, a Green product that saves a lot of water, and zero cracks, it gives you a great finish. Saves a lot of time and labor. Because normally when you do a sand-cement plaster you get cracks on it and you will have to cure it for a week after which you do a PoP finish on it. Over here it’s a one coat finish and done. It’s a Green product.



What are the advantages your products offer vis-à-vis competitiors.

In India the purity of gypsum is hardly 65 per cent. You have two products in India, PoP which is the lowest product in the grade with very less purity levels and then you have gypsum with maximum 65 percent purity. Even if these two are mixed it’s very difficult for you to know they have been mixed. The local manufacturer plays mischief as the price difference is nearly double and both are identical. But our product is pure white in color therefore its impossible to adultrate and hence the builder is sure of using our product as he knows it is very consistent in quality. Our gypsum being white gives a better finish, the paint reflection on that is much better than of normal brown color gypsum.



Do you have Green Certifications for your products. Tell us about the technical support you offer to your clients.

Yes, we are IGBC certified. We supply test reports of Indian test labs to the customer – number one, number two – when we take up a project our teams in the entire country will visit the site to see that the application is done properly. We not only supply it but do ongoing monitoring of quality, so that we give the client best of what he needs, what he’s paying for actually. We also have a Division to sign contracts which are Apply- Supply, we also take projects on a turnkey basis.



Tell us about your client base in India and abroad.

In terms of client base we have the largest amongst the lot and are most quality conscious builders. We are working with Brigade, Purvankara, L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji, Prestige, Mahindra, Tata, lodha etc. We are doing small builders also. We are exporting to a few countries but it happens directly from outside from our office in Iran. We are doing Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.



Some really challenging project executed by you.

More or less the product being standardized and so good, the challenge in India is not the material now, it’s the labor, that’s the application part of it. So Buildon moved a stage ahead and developed a plastering machine also, the first site we started was with Lodha. The response from the builder fraternity was absolutely fantastic. Due to lack of skilled labor we are getting into machine plastering in India now, it also helps the work get done much faster.

In terms of cost it will be comparable to what we are doing currently with hand plaster, may be a little expensive but not much, but the work will move much faster. So you save a lot of time, effort, and labor.



What is the level of acceptance of gypsum as construction material in India.

Now it has become a need of the hour frankly. There’s no sand available in the country, sand mining is banned. Secondly the finishing that you get with sand is not good compared to gypsum plaster. So it’s become the need of the hour for internal plastering, they have definitely moved into gypsum plaster.



To what extent is the need to disseminate knowledge about gypsum to builders, prospective client community.

Whenever we approach a new client, our first thing is to show him projects we have done. Secondly we definitely conduct a sample for him whether he asks for it or not, so that he himself is assured of good quality before he can give it to any customer. We have now started a factory in Baroda for sand-cement plasters. It’s a totally factory made product out of river sand because it is abundant in Gujarat . And it’s a very very neat and clean product directly out of our factory, without any wastage, it’s a ready-mix plaster.



How developed is the gypsum market in India.

See it’s getting developed, for builders it’s important to learn alternative usage and gypsum is the only alternative they have today. So it is the need of the hour and we are there to help educate them in the business. Our pan India sales force have one-to-one meetings with builders, and architects.

As per your perception what is the total volume and value of the gypsum market in India. How much of it is actually manifested.

I would think more than fifty per cent have already converted to gypsum in the plastering segment, for internal plastering. Some small builders may still stick to the old school of thought of doing sand cement plaster which is basically more expensive and doesn’t have any use. The size of the market is difficult to estimate, but it should be massive in terms of tonnage probably close to 100,000 tons per month.



Give us details on your manufacturing facilities

We have two manufacturing facilities, one in Iran and one in Baroda. Our gypsum plaster is manufactured in Iran and at our Baroda facility we manufacture sand-cement plaster. Our facility at Baroda is totally backward integrated since river sand is abundantly available in Gujarat.



Gypsum products offered by your company.

The products that we have is gypsum plaster for all internal walls, ready sand-cement plaster Buildon P20 which is for the outside wall, then we have a great product gypsum blocks, three such blocks make 1 sq meter, its only three inches thick. They are great for hotel and commercial buildings, predefined walls are there. This wall is light in weight, it’s a finished wall, so there is no plaster required and its very fast to install also, the construction can move very fast . You have pre finished walls, you just have to paint it. This is the one coat product we were talking about. You go in for aluminum formwork construction so the walls are very smooth. To put gypsum on that you have to use Bondit which is a polymer based product. We have ancillary products also that will serve the market. It’s an end-to-end solution for a builder.



Do you have any plans to launch new products.

We continuously look at more products that would add value to the builder. Development and research for new products is always on. We don’t want to do products similar to our competitors. We will be looking at products which will have niche markets for the builder.



Tell us about you tagline Gypsumisation.

Gypsumisation is a concept to make a cleaner greener environment, instead of encouraging illegal sand mining and damaging your own eco system. That’s why when we say “Are you Gypsumised ?? , it is very simple, wanting to convert each and every sand-cement plaster user. People don’t have water to drink in the city and you are wasting water on your walls by pouring water on them. Sand-cement plaster is not a green product. Also with gypsum, any repair work that takes place you can never make out the difference in terms of repair marks on the wall.



Advantages of using gypsum as a construction material.

As far as technology is concerned obviously gypsum is the way forward for everyone. They have no other alternative. When you are buying an apartment you see the finishing on the wall. If walls are not finished in right angle, in line level, you say it’s a bad job. What you want to see is very clean finishing. The future and the present is for gypsum today. The problem in India is very poor quality gypsum coming out of Rajasthan, and inconsistency of material. The advantage is that we have the most consistent product being used by largest brands in the country, so obviously there’s a great market for this product. And obviously getting into machine plastering we are way forward in the business. Because every builder wants to cut down his labor cost, increase speed. He’s running huge overheads as far as these things are concerned, he wants to reduce those to get the best quality at the best rate. This is the way what we can provide these guys simply because we are giving them the best material. So the way forward is going to be into machine plastering.



How matured is the Indian market to use these technologically sophisticated products.

The real estate sector is getting very technology savvy as new methods of construction come in. They are already using aluminum formworks, some people are using tunnel work now, like Tata. So obviously technology is being transferred into India, but we have to see what is relevant to us in terms of what the Indian people can adapt to. You can bring in new technology, like dry wall systems, but they are a failure in India because the customer is not educated enough to use that material. If he wants to hang anything anywhere, on drywall systems you can’t really do that. So you need a lot of backend work from the builder’s point of view. So obviously in case of technology you do what can be adapted to India. For example if McDonald comes to India he has to do aloo tikki and paneer, he cannot sell what he’s selling in the US, he has to adapt to the Indian tastes. In the same way our conditions of living are different, a lot of joint family systems. Here if you have two kids or three kids and you got two three different rooms made out of dry walls it’s going to be a houseful of noise. So obviously technology has to move looking at people also.



What is the synchronisation between the level of technology in the Indian real estate sector and the level of modern construction materials, like gypsum is a good example.

When you say technology, bathroom fittings, there was nothing available in this country, there used to be one or two brands. Today who is not in India. The who and who in the world, whether it is sanitary ware, tiles or anything, so technology has moved ahead. Today imports are free to come, you can bring in all this stuff. So obviously people are moving ahead, they are becoming more quality conscious. The client is getting educated, client is spending more, he wants better stuff. So the builder will also have to uplift themselves to pull in a client today. He has to uplift his services, he has to uplift his quality, a builder who does not do that will be out. Especially with RERA small builders will be out. Who is going to exist is only the good builders those will build the sentiment of the actual user to come into this market. Today the investor shies away because projects are not being completed on time, there is no Regulatory authority on these people and they could do what they did when they did! So if I invested in a building and it is taking ten years to complete I can’t do anything to them. But today he could be thrown into jail for it.

So the market is moving towards smarter building materials.

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