Niranjan Mudholkar

“We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and are dedicated to realizing our vision by leveraging our strengths, embracing innovation, and staying attuned to market dynamics. With our key objectives in mind, our ultimate aim is to ascend to a position of global leadership within the stainless-steel industry.”

October 2023 : In this exclusive interaction with Niranjan Mudholkar, Editorial Director, Pro MFG media, Anubhav Kathuria, Managing Director, Synergy Steels says that over the next five years, he envisions a strategic expansion and transformation across key dimensions to fortify Synergy’s standing in the market and to reinforce its brand identity.

It has been a decade since you took the reins of the company in 2012 as the second-generation entrepreneur. How would you describe the journey so far in terms of the milestones achieved and lessons learnt?
A family-owned enterprise, our steel manufacturing journey began in the year 2000, a dream brought to life by my father, Mr. Subhash Chander Kathuria, a true steel enthusiast. Following my father’s footsteps, I joined this journey around 2012, bringing fresh perspectives and lessons from business school, and since then, I have continued to lead the operations at Synergy Steels. We’ve continued to grow at a trajectory that has consistently been upwards – back in 2012, our revenue stood at US$ 30 million, and over the years, we have experienced a substantial increase of 10x. We have also expanded our range of stainless-steel products to include billets, bright bars, rebars and fasteners. However, our vision extends beyond just business – we aim to create a mark, a legacy that future generations can look back on with pride. Through dedication and hard work, we strive to make Synergy Steels a household name, known not just for its quality products but also for the love and dedication that go into every piece of stainless steel we manufacture.

You have recently launched the production of Stainless-Steel Reinforcement bars. Tell us about this new venture.
At Synergy Steels, we are committed to continuous growth and innovation. In line with our mission to maintain a high quality and diverse product line, we have recently launched production of Stainless Steel Rebars/Reinforcement bars. These rebars are designed to offer exceptional corrosion resistance and fire resistance, making them an ideal choice for construction projects. By introducing these rebars, we aim to provide our customers with efficient, reliable, and durable solutions that enhance the durability and strength of concrete structures. We are excited about the potential impact of this new venture, and we are confident that our Stainless-Steel Reinforcement bars and accompanying product range will empower our clientele to build structures that stand the test of time while prioritizing safety and quality.

The effect of the Covid pandemic and the volatile geopolitical situations have together disrupted supply chains across industries. How has Synergy Steel managed on that front?
The Covid-19 pandemic and the shifting geopolitical terrain had a significant impact on the steel and stainless-steel industry, causing a noticeable decline in demand due to halted industrial production and construction activities during lockdowns and restrictions. This led to a surplus of steel and subsequent price declines. These challenges have indeed been unprecedented and have necessitated swift and strategic responses from the industry. In response to these challenges and in order to mitigate the disruptions in our supply chain, we engaged with our suppliers and partners to assess their capabilities and contingency plans. We also diversified our (raw material) supplier base and worked closely with them to anticipate potential challenges and find alternative sourcing options, thereby reducing dependencies on specific regions or suppliers that might be more vulnerable to geopolitical uncertainties. Additionally, we adopted data-driven strategies to optimize our inventory levels and streamline our supply chain processes. This helped us in managing our inventory efficiently, ensuring that we were able to fulfil orders, and maintain customer delivery and satisfaction. At Synergy Steels, we continuously monitor the evolving dynamics (supply chain, trade) and remain agile in adapting our strategies to ensure the uninterrupted flow of materials and products in order to meet our customers’ needs – this has led us to be able to weather the disruptions and emerge stronger in an ever-changing world.

The post covid scenario has also accelerated digital transformation in the manufacturing industry across sectors. Tell us how Synergy Steel has responded to this trend?
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, the acceleration of digital transformation within the manufacturing industry has indeed been significant. At Synergy Steels, we are excited about the potential of digital technology and analytics in scaling our operations, increasing our efficiency, and improving our customer service. In the forthcoming years, our objective is to significantly increase our investment in the digital transformation strategy, aspiring to position ourselves as a technologically advanced company within the stainless-steel industry. Our primary focus is on fortifying our business competitiveness through effective utilization of data and digital technologies, incorporating innovations into both – our production and business processes.

Tell us about your manufacturing footprint and capabilities.
Our manufacturing operations include three cutting-edge facilities, comprising a Steel Melting Shop, Wire Rod Mill, and Alwar Rolling Mill. These facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art testing infrastructure and automated machinery, ensuring the production of high-quality materials. Additionally, our Corporate Office is situated in New Delhi, India. Located in Matsya Industrial Area, Alwar Rajasthan, we have a wire drawing facility, precision heat treatment, SMS with AOD, and continuous caster. The Integrated Stainless Steel Melt Shop in Alwar is equipped with essential features like Raw Material Handling Yard, Test Furnaces, Quality Control Labs for Metallurgical Research, Induction Furnaces, AOD, and Billet Caster. Moreover, the Integrated Wire Rod Mill operates as a fully automated facility, complete with a Reheating Furnace, Precision Heat Treatment & Annealing facilities, Pickling Facility, and Garret Coiler, enabling the production of Wire Rods ranging from 5-34 MM. Our product portfolio extends beyond primary production, offering a specialized downstream value-added range. This includes Stainless Steel Flats, Fine Wires, Bright Bars, Fasteners, and Stainless Steel Rebars, all manufactured through advanced Wire Drawing lines and supported by comprehensive testing infrastructure. In terms of production capacity, we have the ability to manufacture two lakh fifty thousand tonnes of stainless steel. With an annual turnover surpassing US$ 315 million and a continual expansion into value-added product offerings, we have solidified our position as a significant player in the stainless-steel long products market.

Tell us something about Synergy Steel’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainable development.
At Synergy Steels, our commitment to social responsibility and sustainable development is deeply ingrained in our corporate ethos. We strongly believe that business success must be intertwined with a positive impact on the environment and society at large. Environmental Sustainability: We are a company with a green heart. Our dedication to creating a positive environmental impact has driven us to make significant strides in this direction – we are actively progressing towards our target of sourcing nearly half our energy needs from renewable sources. Over the years, we have shifted our focus to solar power to meet our energy needs. We have established alliances with solar companies to fulfil a substantial portion of our energy requirements. Additionally, we use green hydrogen generated by renewables that is used with direct reduced iron in our steel-making process. Year on year, we continue to improve our ESG performance. Social Responsibility: We strongly believe in giving back to society, particularly focusing on education and empowering underprivileged children. In Rajasthan, where our manufacturing facility is situated, we actively collaborate with NGOs to support and educate children who lack the required resources. By investing in education and partnering with organizations that share our vision, we aspire to uplift communities and create a brighter future for those in need.

How do you maintain both quality and productivity at the manufacturing level while keeping the costs under control?
Ensuring a balance between quality, productivity, and cost-effectiveness in our manufacturing operations at Synergy Steels is a top priority. To maintain quality, we focus on sourcing high-quality raw materials and implementing rigorous quality control measures throughout the production cycle. Our manufacturing setups are designed for optimal efficiency, employing lean manufacturing principles and workflow optimization practices. Regular training and upskilling of our workforce further contribute to building a culture of quality consciousness. Cost control is achieved through efficient resource utilization, energy-saving initiatives, and waste-reduction strategies. Furthermore, investing in research and development allows us to innovate and find cost-effective solutions that don’t compromise quality.

Where do you see Synergy Steels five years down the line in terms of business growth, market position and as a brand?
Over the next five years, we envision a strategic expansion and transformation across key dimensions to fortify our standing in the market and reinforce our brand identity. At present, our production capacity for stainless steel stands at 250,000 tonnes annually. However, we are constantly engaged in charting a path for further growth. As a part of our expansion strategy, we are currently in the process of establishing a new greenfield project to augment our stainless-steel production capacity to 300,000 tonnes annually. Further, currently approximately 30 percent of our production is directed towards the export market, which is reflective of our global outlook and competitiveness. We primarily export to significant markets such as the European Union, Turkey, and Latin America, aligning with our vision of expanding our global footprint. Our aim is to further build our global presence by increasing our export share to 45 percent within the next two years. We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and are dedicated to realizing our vision by leveraging our strengths, embracing innovation, and staying attuned to market dynamics. With our key objectives in mind, our ultimate aim is to ascend to a position of global leadership within the stainless-steel industry.