India has taken a leap in fenestration product technology. Use of alternate materials such as UPVC and aluminium instead of traditional wood not only furthers green initiatives but reduces costs in the long run. Lingel, a German based veteran and one of the leading manufacturers of high quality doors and windows in Europe, entered Indian market in the year 2006 with Mario Schmidt at its helm. With a meagre workforce and little experience of the nascent Indian market, it wasn’t a cakewalk for the company and Mario to reach where they are now. Mario Schmidt, Director, Lingel Windows and Doors, shares the details of his journey of 10 years in the Indian sub-continent, growth of his company and the industry, their newly launched product and his company’s future plans with WFM.
WFM: Please give us a brief background of your group and your products?
Mario Schmidt (MS): Lingel is a family owned company. We started our operation in Germany in 1959. We came to India exactly 10 years ago, in April 2006, with our UPVC window products. Recently we have introduced a new set of products: our high-end Aluminium windows and doors.
In Germany, we launched the best and a very wide range of products including various types of windows and doors, window and door accessories like insect nets, hardware, and roller shutters. Our product list includes types of glass including laminated glass, tempered glass, insulated glass, bent glass, sound control glass, burglar resistant glass, and more. We had also introduced all kinds of façades and other possible items related to façades and fenestration in the German Market. We found that these products were very well adopted and had great demand in German market. Hence decided to bring them to India. That’s how we launched the high-end Aluminium doors and windows in Indian market. Moreover, when we launched our product here, there were already three or four brands who had come up with similar products in the market.
WFM: How did you foray in to this industry?
MS: After completing my education, I was in search of fortune. A new factory manufacturing windows came up in my n eighbourhood, in my home town Saxony, Germany. This was in 1994 and I just had completed my education in mechanical sciences. I had great interest in learning more about manufacturing of windows and various aspects associated with it. I started working in this factory. That is how my association with window industry started.
In 2005, Lingel was searching for experts to start their uPVC Window dealers in India and I joined the company. I came to India in 2006 and established the business for our company here. Now I have reached at the conclusion that the company and me are ‘made for each other’.
WFM: Now you are grown in to one of the largest players in window systems in India. How did you achieve this?
MS: I presume that we entered the Indian market at the right time. People had no knowledge about uPVC windows and we introduced this new concept and system. For us, as a fabricator, we had the advantages of being here at the right time. Our management too provided full support to introduce our systems in India. This helped us to reinvest and work extensively. All the system providers like Veka, Kommerling, Fenesta and Rehau were just entering the market then. We expanded our market starting from Delhi and Chennai, entering Bangalore and then to most of the other cities in India. Our network is spread nationwide now. Rather than selling through dealers, our employees sell the products directly since it requires a lot of technical knowledge to explain the products and its proper installation. Hence we train our employees on the technical aspects and they deal directly with the buyer. But in smaller cities, we are working with dealer network too. We believe in direct selling even though we have a wellconnected network of dealers all over India. We always want to be as close as possible associated with our dealers. We train our employees to be resourceful, and provide them with all the necessary training in technical aspects. For selling the product, one need to have thorough knowledge of its technical aspects. We focus on maximum satisfaction and happiness of our customer.
WFM: Please tell me about the growth of your company and the Industry.
MS: The Company and the window industry has seen the same growth curves in the past years. In 2006 it was a 600 crore industry and from there, in 2015, the industry has grown to a 1500 crore industry. That is, the growth was three and a half times. Our company is also growing at the same pace.
WFM: We understand that the builders and home owners have not accepted uPVC as much as wood or Aluminium. What is the reason for this?
MS: It is not true if you consider the entire sub-continent. It may be true for Delhi or northern India. But UPVC windows in Bangalore and other south Indian are used widely. People in states like Goa and Kerala has realized that wood is not the right product which can be used for the kind of climate in those places. In places like Chennai, people have adopted uPVC in a big way. In high-end houses, instead of wood, people have started using wood finish uPVC windows. From a distance 10 feet no one can make out whether it is a wooden window or wood-finish uPVC window.
WFM: Tell us about uPVC and Aluminium in India and about your sales too?
MS: uPVC windows were introduced in India just 12 years back. In February 2016, uPVC Window and Door Manufacturers Association (UWDMA) introduced guideline for uPVC windows. uPVC window fabrication and installation need to be done carefully. Many inferior quality products are being sold in the market and lack of knowledge in fabrication and installation of uPVC window has given a disrepute to the industry many a times. Though it is a greener and stronger material than aluminium, it is not accepted as much. Steel Reinforced uPVC profiles are strong because of the steel, but will not rust like steel.
In India, the sector is much unorganized. Aluminium systems can be manufactured locally, and they may not be following any specific standard or guideline for quality. These small scale window manufacturers sell their products at a cheaper rate and the quality of their products are very low. Many architects and contractors purchased windows from local vendors. But in the case of uPVC windows, the brands manufacture them in factories, following certain quality checks. Because of the above said reasons, branded uPVC windows available in the market are reliable.
Aluminium products can be of high quality with good system engineering. Such products cost much more than locally available products. Now the concerned organizations and companies should come forward and spread knowledge on System Aluminium and its benefits rather than looking at just cost of the product which is a simple aluminium system.
In unorganized sector, no one gives guarantee or warranty to the products, neither assures quality. But when you are buying system aluminium from USA, Germany, UK or from India, all the features like window measurements, quality of components and standards are very well specified. The drawings of profile sections also explains the measurements. When you buy such products, it gives a guarantee that the system is tested and it is compiled to some standards with proper guidelines. System Aluminium Windows are new entry in the market and we want to take this opportunity to present the product to the clients and end users in the right way. We do not want to repeat the mistake happened in uPVC sector, by allowing low quality product from local fabricators infesting the market and finally losing faith on the product itself. The challenge is to train the fabricators to understand the technicality of the system Aluminium products and installing systems properly.
10 years ago uPVC was a new concept. Still it is in nascent stage. We still advise that uPVC is the best system for India because of its insulation properties, which helps preventing heat and noise inside.
WFM: Please tell us about your company’s strengths? How do you compete with the local vendors who supply cheaper products?
MS: Local vendors are definitely a challenge, but we get a mileage in giving proper information and support to our customers. We promise service up to 10 years after installing our products. These kind of long term services are not provided by local vendors. This helps to build faith and that is our strength. Because of this, all our customers come back to us and we are getting repeated customers all over the country.
WFM: Please tell us about your diverse product portfolio? Are your system designed in-house?
MS: In the past 10 years we have progressed a lot in in-house designing and manufacturing Systems, especially the hardware. Initially the products were designed and manufactured in Germany, which was not suitable for the harsh Indian climate. And this had an impact on the product’s cost also. Moreover, the products had the tendency to rust when used in coastal areas. So we started designing and manufacturing systems in India which are suitable for the conditions here. Started manufacturing our own series in which all the hardware are made of steel SS 304 and SS 316 for coastal areas since it is rust free. At times, as and when there is a necessity, we put together or combine our various systems so that it provides the best benefit for the customer. They can make advantage out of all our products and experience the best of our engineering. The customer gets the best of windows made of best profiles and hardware. The components are fabricated in the right way.
WFM: What are the major special features of your products? And how is your product unique compared to other products available in the market?
MS: Whatever the customer is looking for in windows, we have a solution for the same. We are the only one uPVC fabrication company manufacturing 90 degree corner opening sliding doors.
Further, we provide
- Wonderful security rid solutions
- A great range in double shutter windows and doors
- Unique dust and noise reduction solutions to our customer.
- In-built air purifiers affixed to our windows
We always try to be one step ahead of others in product l Anniversary Edition WFM 49 l Amara Akasha – AR Foundation, Chennai designs, innovation and technologies. Our research and development of products are exceptionally good.
WFM: How do you assure quality check and quality control?
MS: We follow ISO 2008 9001 quality assurance in our products. For us, the quality is customer satisfaction at any point of time.
WFM: Who are your major customers?
MS: We had, in the last financial year, 1500 individual customers. Most of our projects are villas and bungalows and houses for independent customers. We are not focusing on developer market but on retail.
We do work for few developers, like Puri Construction in Delhi, AR foundation in Chennai and GINA Engineering in Bangalore, etc. – all of them are our longtime associates. We work with developers who accepts quality products and that is our policy.
WFM: Please tell us about your manufacturing capacity of your facility?
MS: Our fabrication facility in Bhiwadi in Rajasthan. It is centrally located and helps us to ensure the quality of our products and this is one of the biggest facility and have huge capacity. In the last financial year we have made 46,000 uPVC window units. We have utilized only 60 percent of our capacity.
WFM: Please tell us about your window designs?
MS: We have our own design centres. But mostly, in projects, the architect decides the design and we ensure that our products satisfies the architect’s needs and the design criteria and ensure that it is technically correct.
When it is a retrofit project, we advise our customers in the right way regarding insulation, sound proofing and the quality of the components of the windows. My team is technically very well trained and could give the best advice and solutions to the customer. If we go wrong somewhere, we do replace and provide the correct solutions too.
We do case studies to understand the demand of the customer. Based on the requirement and demand of the customer we design and assemble the windows. Thus our windows are all custom made.
WFM: What is your future outlook for the year 2020?
MS: By 2020 we want to market our aluminium products at the same level as our uPVC products. We have to put all our efforts towards the same.At present, the Aluminium windows are pre-fabricated at our factory in Germany and assembled in India.
Our aim is to be the best in the industry. We are recommended by many architects and all our customer.
We also look forward to publications like yours to spread knowledge and it is a wonderful platform for the same.