FUSO GLASS MD Mr Ashok Jain Speaks To GB About His Aspirations, Focus Areas & Future Plans
From establishing FUSO as a well-accepted brand in the Indian and the global markets to becoming the market leader in the processed glass segment and entering solar glass and OEM, MD Ashok Jain touches upon a variety of aspects during this conversation with Glass Bulletin.
Tell us how you entered the glass business and about your journey with FUSO Group.
I hail from a glass trading family. My father and uncles started the business about six decades ago. After graduation in 1986, I pursued CA till I joined business in 1990. It was the tremendous encouragement given by my brothers encouraged me to enter the glass business.
Those days, it was figured and sheet glass market. It was a seller’s market. Demand was multi-fold. Clear sheet glass supply was in shortage and tinted glass was a luxury. Dealers and customers used to wait in glass factories for their orders. It was a time manufacturers and dealers enjoyed good profit. This prompted me to enter the glass business, visualizing the industry’s bright future.
Since 1990, the glass industry has undergone a tremendous transition, and I am proud and lucky to have travelled along with it ever since. FUSO has had a remarkable role to our credit in these transitions. We introduced in India many architectural glass products for the first time. Till we started our first architectural plant, we had been importing architectural glasses.
In 1994, we imported heat strengthened glasses for the first time in India, for India’s first IT Park, ITPL, in Whitefield, Bangalore. In 1996, for the first time, we imported hi-performance soft coated DGU glasses, for India’s second IT Park, Tidel Park, Chennai. In 1998, we started selling soft-coated laminated glasses and we served Infosys alone with more than one lakh square metres.
By the time we started our first architectural plant in Chennai in 2004, we had over 100 projects to our credit in India. In the process, I had travelled extensively world over and gained micro and macro techno-commercial knowledge in both glass and glass processing industry.
How did FUSO establish its prominent position in the industry within such a short span of time?
It is all team effort. Our team is working round the clock with dedication, loyalty and sincerity, in tune with FUSO’s vision. We have treated every setback as a stepping stone and milestone towards success. We are united in achieving and retaining leadership. We are united in knowledge acquisition. This is the secret of our success.
FUSO is the only company with three state-of-the-art glass processing factories in India that are equipped with all major processing machinery. Please tell us something about this.
In tune with our vision and to be nearer to the market, strategically we opted for plants in different locations — Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai. It’s true FUSO today has the largest processing capacity in the country and most importantly, FUSO family’s vision to go all out with all the processing facilities viz., tempering, insulating, laminating, screen printing, heat soak etc., at one go in all our plants. This has, in fact, built our strength from Day One of our plant operation.
In fact when FUSO was constructing its first plant in Chennai, I happened to meet one of the veterans of that time in the industry who asked me, “Are you sure you want to put up all these lines at one go without having any experience in glass processing industry?”
It was shocking for a second. But FUSO took it as a challenge and just in two years, i.e. in 2006, we saw that we were right in our vision. We found tremendous market acceptance, which paved way for our further expansion in Hyderabad and Mumbai.
You recently invested a lot on upgrading your facilities with world class machinery. Few of them are even the first in India. Share with us your
thoughts behind this.
The purpose behind our investment in upgrading our facilities is to be the market leader. Many of our machineries are world-class and first in India. We have a strong technical advisory committee, which is monitoring global techniques and performance parameter criteria. Healthy periodical debates are undertaken and decisions taken for upgrading and modification. FUSO was awarded the Best Glass Processor Award – National, for thee continuous years since 2017.
What facilities do you have in your factories to test the quality of processed glass?
FUSO’s plants are equipped with well established and fully equipped state-ofthe-art glass testing facilities. We adopt uniform processing techniques and testing facilities in all our three plants to ensure uniform quality of the end product delivered to our customers, irrespective of the source of supply.
In FUSO, we follow global standards. FUSO holds certificates viz., ISO 9001- 2015, QNL, BIS/ISI, IGCC (soon), ARAI etc. Our Plants are accredited and certified by Saint Gobain to process their hi-performance coated glasses. FUSO was the QNL (Qualified Network of Laminator) certification by Kuraray (globally renowned lamination interlayer manufacturer) which is issued to competent glass processors globally.
What makes FUSO India’s largest glass processing company?
Customers support – every increasing customers and their appreciation, guidance and support are the very reasons behind our growth year on year. FUSO reciprocates our customers’ confidence, with our largest glass processing facility.
Having every type of glass processing facility under one roof is another strong factor. What is the importance of safety standard in your view? How are your factories equipped in this regard? We care for our human assets first. Glass is heavy, fragile and dangerous to handle without proper safety standards and equipment in place. In our Chennai plant, we have 6 EOT Cranes covering the entire factory floor area. In all our plants, loading and unloading in seaming, double edger line, insulating line, laminating line etc., are automated — first of its kind in the country. All our glass handling systems are fully mechanized. We don’t compromise in safety standards. COVID-19 has made us much more cautious about the health of our employees. Periodical training and monitoring safety measures are part of our routine operative system. In short, we minimize people’s direct contact with glass.
How did FUSO establish itself as a big name in the export of processed glass?
With two factories located strategically in port cities of Chennai and Mumbai, we are able to serve the global market effectively. We have all standards, certificates and facilities to meet global expectations. Our team is strong to understand and meet the technocommercial requirements of our international customers.
Our first mega break was with the execution of 40,000 sq m Vision Exchange Project in Singapore. This gave us confidence to cater to the global demand, and presently, we are involved in projects in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Colombo, Dubai, Qatar, Africa, Bangladesh, Europe etc.
Now-a-days, float glasses of many international brands are available in India to suit the choice of global customers. Best process quality of international standards are available with FUSO. All these factors give momentum to our export business.
You have family members in your business. What role did this aspect play in the journey of FUSO?
Our joint family is our biggest strength. Each family member has a specific strength in one or few particular fields. Our head of the family and my uncle, Tarachandji, is our group chairman. My brothers Mr C L Jain is a great visionary and controls corporate finance and Mr Madanlal is an expert in admin, legal matters and taxation. Our director, Mr R K Chouhan, excels in operations. My younger brother, Sarad Jain, heads our trading and interior division and Anuj Jain is an expert in business administration. My core competency is executing group vision involving in plant lay-outs, machinery and technology acquisition, strategic tie-ups, techno-commercial and sales and marketing.
In the next gen, Ms Himansee Jain, my elder brother’s daughter, who is also a director, is focusing on branding and business development apart from playing a major role in controlling the Mumbai plant operations. My son Jainik Jain is actively participating in technology development and implementations. He is also participating in FUSO’s expansion programme. Jainik Jain is successfully heading FUSO’s new vertical – entry into OEM and locomotive segments. All major decisions are taken by the Board of Directors. Going forward, FUSO wants to transform professionally.
What changes have you seen in the glass processing industry and how did this lead to the necessary transformation?
Glass processing industry has undergone tremendous changes in last two decades in many ways.
- If you look at the processed glass size, It has moved from semi-jumbo to jumbo, facade has started demanding floor to floor glass panels, shop-fronts have started asking for single panel of double floor height.
- It has moved from normal processing to more of structurally designed glass to take care of wind-loads velocity and becoming a substitute to walls.
- Glass being the aesthetic element in the building, facade consultant and end-clients are keen on processing parameters viz., roller waves, bow/warp, and edge dip these days.
To accommodate these customer expectations, glass processing industry has transformed by up-grading plant machinery and technology from time to time.
What are your thoughts on innovation in the glass industry in the present day?
Customers are contemplating to use glass for more and more applications such as cook-tops, bullet proof vehicles, fire-protection areas, privacy cubicles and so on. From lighting to home appliances, from facades to locomotives and from ship to mining equipment, processed glasses are taking substantial presence.
Customers are foreseeing more and more advantages in using glass and hence, innovations in glass processing is ever increasing. FUSO is gearing up to accommodate new innovations with ease.
What is your primary focus for FUSO in India?
Branding — making FUSO a wellaccepted brand in the Indian market.
Making this brand recognition possible by delivering value for money, to its customers with consistency in maintaining global glass process standards. FUSO also aims to place brand Fuso as the well-sought ‘Makein- India’ product, globally.
What is your vision for FUSO for the upcoming years?
Our vision is to be India’s market leader in the processed glass segment.
We have been contemplating on the next step of FUSO. We will soon enter all segments of glass processing. In fact, we are entering in a very big way in OEM segment. We will have our first OEM plant in Chennai followed byanother in the west. Fuso will also enter into solar glass manufacturing. We are already into architectural, automotive, locomotive and interior segments with remarkable presence.
In the next five years, we will be investing in two plants for OEM segment, two in architectural at new strategic locations and a solar glass plant.
FUSO will stay in the glass business only and invest accordingly. Thanks to our government, our customers, dedicated team and Board of Directors, we are moving ahead in our successful business journey.