Godrej Locking Solutions is on top of the heap in locks, but Shyam Motwani wants more
By Sunitha Natti | Express News Service | Published: 16th July 2017 09:01 AM |
MUMBAI: Shyam Motwani of Godrej Locking Solutions wants people to fail. The more number of failures, he believes, takes one that much closer to success. “If you taste success the first time, you’ll grow over-confident and arrogant. To stay humble and grounded, you have to first fail,” says the gregarious Executive Vice-President and Business Head of the 120-year-old firm.
He doesn’t use ‘failure leads to success,’ as a metaphor but out of profound learning from bitter experiences and past product mishaps. Six years ago, Godrej developed a new-age technology platform converging electronics and mechanics for digital locks. The product based on mechatronics, which is now a subject offered as a four-year course in engineering colleges, failed and was eventually subsumed. “To combine a mechanical product with electronics is not a marriage made in heaven, but in some other part of the universe,” he quips.
Instead of abandoning the project, Godrej re-invested. But before that, it did a few things: First, the team went back to where it all started to understand the root cause. Then they travelled around the world to see how others were doing it, hired an electronics expert and a software firm to develop in-house software. “Even today we have a bold and ambitious roadmap for electronics using our know-how. We have more or less achieved success and have some products,” he says adding that the company has a roadmap for electronic products under the catch-all title of Target 2020.
“It’s a gamble we are taking,” says Motwani, who hopes to hang up his boots with Godrej, where he began his career 32 years ago.During his over three-decade journey, Motwani dabbled with at least a dozen roles starting with consumer products to foods and chemicals businesses. Some of the products are now leaders in their own right like GoodKnight and Hit. While handling food products, he pioneered the tetra pack concept with Jumpin, imported American Almonds and Pistchaios under the brand Blue Diamond. He also handled a soya-based flavoured milk drink that backfired and was abandoned subsequently.
Motwani is proud to be with Locking Solutions, which he calls the Gangotri of Godrej Group. “This is where it all started. Locking Solutions was the founding business,” he beams. But the excitement perhaps was short-lived when he took over in 2009. Revenue was a piffling `194 crore and it took a long time to get there.
“I was sad and pained to know that we were a small company, in spite of being in the business for 112 years. We should have done better, though there must have been genuine reasons for why they were, where they were,” he says.
That Motwani seldom turns down a challenge is evident from his dozen stints within the Group. So when the task to increase output at Locking Solutions came up, it matched his great ambition to excel with nothing but expertise in product plumbing. By any metric he has delivered. In the last 7-8 years, revenue grew 3-4 times and is cruising on its way to cross `1,000 crore by 2020. It entered new segments and adjacent categories, achieved unparalleled success in some product lines like padlocks, furniture locks, and main door handle locks. Among organized players, it has an unbeatable 40-45 per cent market share with competitors scurrying at a distant second and third place.
Still, Motwani feels there’s more to be done in product development, applying technology, R&D, and engineering. Among others, Godrej is expanding into smaller cities with over 100,000 population or less. Under its rurban (rural and urban) initiative, it develops specific products for rural and urban markets as it believes, more than mere presence, success hinges on the right product. The Group is so deeply entrenched that one in every two Indians contributes to the Godrej’s cash box purchasing one or the other product. Within locks, Godrej is on top of the heap, but Motwani wants more. “The first thing you should do when you want to know more about locks is to dial up a Godrej representative. That’s the kind of thought-leadership we want to establish,” he explains.
Is digital the way to go? Unlikely, he says. “Electronics is a slow-burn activity, and adoption is tricky. There’s skepticism that it can fail. And when it fails, it fails miserably,” he adds. Currently, electronics is a small spec in the overall range, but Motwani insists that one has to start somewhere. Equating it with a child analogy, he elaborates, “When a child is born, it takes a lot of effort and hand holding to grow. We are building an ecosystem to let the child grow.”