[box type=”shadow” ]In the last two years since Seitz has established its India operations, it has been a learning process, says Dirk Mertins, General Manager, Seitz India (P) Ltd, in a brief interview with Mohana M at Dubai[/box]
Seitz India’s growth so far?
Couple of years ago we started manufacturing in India and today, we are exporting to the Middle East from India and soon may be to other parts of the world. Looking back at the present year, we feel we are on the right path and are expanding fast. From five we have now become 22 and are looking for the right employees to make a good team. This is probably the right moment to create new accounts and grow.
How do you perceive the demand for laundry chemicals in India?
As such, India has many chemical suppliers. In the retail, we have big names in the market but on the professional side, there are about four to five high quality manufacturers and we are probably number six having entered late into India.
Indian people want more quality. There is this old German thing of high quality, good price and everyone is happy. It is a win win situation. Seitz as a policy makes high quality products and we look at building long term relationships with our distributors and giving the people the best.
What is your take on the Indian consumption pattern?
Firstly, we have to change the perception of chemicals among the people. Cleaning that was 10 years back, is now different. To bring about this change in one billion people is tricky. It is not just about the chemicals; it also depends on the water quality — whether you use hard or soft water and so on. When it comes to chemicals for laundry, on the bleaching side, when we talk about stains, we find that most of them are bleachable. We then brought about a product which is highly concentrated oxygen bleach. This product is 10 times more effective than the regular products in the market.
A lot of market research has been done to understand the basics before developing a product. When I looked at how clothes are being washed in India where housewives use a bucket and soap, it was like going 40 years back.
On the industrial side, we are an old company in this field. We have transferred the same high quality product technology directly from Germany and the same formulations and raw materials are used for production in India. Whether you buy Seitz product from Germany or India, it will have the same quality inside.
You have been running operations for a long time in Dubai. How different do you find it from India?
In the UAE, there is a lot of competition and many chemicals to choose from. But in India, we do not just sell products. Service is important too. We sell a complete system in India. There is a greater involvement with the end user – we offer technical and at times organizational support, conduct seminars, hold spotting trainings, say to remove blood stains, and so on. We have plans to start a small training school in India.
When you talk about hospitals in particular, we visited many of them and found that hygiene is a major issue in India. There are products available and the hospitals are doing their best, but there is a need for training and knowledge. We are looking forward to transfer as much knowledge and getting the people trained.
Similarly, in hotels, we have interacted and worked with many housekeepers and laundry managers over the last 10 years. When one is working in the same field, one tends to get blind over certain simple procedures. It is just that they need a small reminder to include everything.
In Dubai, we work directly with the customer. It is almost the same, however, India is much bigger compared to the UAE.
In addition to the UAE, we have some new contacts in Oman and also sell to certain parts of Asia. We also have a manufacturing plant in Indonesia. Whether we sell from Germany or India, depends on the shipping rates. We already have distributors in Sri Lanka to whom we are supplying from Germany.
How is it working in India?
India is a very interesting country and I has been a learning process during my travels. At first I did not understand the system in India but now I am exploring. Indeed, it is a good country and it is not easy to manage things here. We are just contributing our bit to better things.