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Last updated: 23 Feb, 2019  

Ankit.9.thmb.jpg Besides finance unavailability, SMEs facing numerous challenges: Step Industries co-founder

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SME Times News Bureau | 23 Feb, 2019

Besides unavailability of finance, the Indian Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector is facing numerous challenges, such as lack of infrastructure, sustainability, insufficient funds, limited access to resources as well as marketing channels and heavy competition from large entities, said Ankit Tayal, Co-Founder, Step Industries Pvt. Ltd.

Excerpts of the interview …

Please tell our readers about Step Industries and its entrepreneurial journey.
Ankit Tayal: The entrepreneurial journey of our company started in the year 2011, when I in partnership with my uncle Mr. Sunil Tayal founded Step Industries Pvt. Ltd. with a vision to become the best cable and wire manufacturing company.

In a Short Span of 8 years, ‘Step’ has witnessed immense growth and has become one the leading Cable & Wire manufacturing company in India with a strong presence in over 150 cities of the northern and southern states of the country. The company has acquired the reputation of being one of the fastest growing company in the cable & wire manufacturing industry through constant innovation and upholding high standards of quality and services.

In addition to cable manufacturing, Step Industries also specializes in EPC (Engineering Project Construction) contracts and is a major contributor in many central & state electrification schemes like ‘Saubhagya Yojna’, IPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme), R-APDRP etc.

Step Industries now has a workforce of over 1000 + employees and is expecting to achieve a turnover of over Rs 300 crs by the end of FYI 2018-19.

What products/services do you offer? What is your competitive edge?
Ankit Tayal: Apart from being cable and wire manufacturing company, we are also a leader in EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) projects and currently playing an important role in fulfilling governments dream of providing electricity to every household, by being a major contributor in many central & state electrification schemes like 'Saubhagya Yojna', IPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme), R-APDRP etc.

If we talk about the makes 'Step' a better brand than the others, then I would say that the use of new age technology in manufacturing, and our focus on continual improvement in customer centricity by providing the best rated products and services that surpass the expectations of our customers in terms of value, quality, promptness and reliability gives Step industries an edge over other available brands in the market.

What are the major challenges your industry is facing currently?
Ankit Tayal: Although the industry is witnessed a significant growth every year, one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry is volatility in raw material prices. Any upward movements in the prices of raw material like steel, zinc, copper, and aluminium have an adverse effect on the profit margins.

In addition, as the wire and cable industry is dependent on imports from China, the UAE, Russia, and Japan, thus exchange rate variations highly affects the industry. Further, delay in the execution of projects due to the requirement of multiple clearances and approvals, and the shortage of manpower, this too poses a major impediment to the growth of the industry.

Lately, the industry is also seen grappling with the challenge pertaining to lack of fair level playing field in the market. In many of the instances, it is seen that the tenders released by utilities have specific pre-qualification condition that hampers the wider participation by the domestic industry. Also, being a large section of the industry still unorganized, there is lack of quality product offerings by these players, due to non- compliance with the product guidelines.

What according to you are the main hurdles to the growth of the Indian SME sector?
Ankit Tayal: Despite being one the major contributor to the growth of the country, SME sector in India is facing numerous challenges like lack of infrastructure, sustainability, insufficient funds, limited access to resources as well as marketing channels and heavy competition from large entities, small enterprises often fail to meet their true potential.

Another major challenge faced by Indian SME’s is unavailability of finance. With a drastic decline in public sector banks’ (PSB) share in lending to the MSME sector, small businesses often fail to get loans on time which takes away their opportunity to expand.

Skill development is key to survival today. What SMEs should do in this regard? What your company does?

Skill development is definitely important, particularly in manufacturing industry where skill level of the employee directly affects the output of the business. SME’s should focus on improving the skill level of the employees with the help of regular training programs and workshops.

We understand the importance of skill development and that’s why we arrange training programs like, Technical skills development, Personality development, Soft skills development, Negotiation skills, Sales management, etc. on a time to time basis to upgrade the skill and efficiency level of our employees.

Please tell us about your future plans.

Ankit Tayal: 'Step' has a vision to become the best cables and wires manufacturers in India and establish a strong global presence. We also aim to become a major player in the EPC projects by grabbing more govt. run electrification projects.

We also aim to expand further in next couple of years and triple our turnover to more than Rs 1000 crore by 2020. Also, soon the company will be expanding its manufacturing capacity by opening a new unit to meet the rapidly growing demand.

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