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MSME SuperPower:

A bold leap helped my team survive the pandemic

Ananth Sagar

Head, Business Development – Retail and eCommerce, Sagar Asia Private Ltd., Secunderabad - Telangana

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There isn’t a single business in the world which hasn’t been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like everyone else, we too were not prepared for its aftermath. But taking bold decisions swiftly protected my business and the livelihoods of those dependent on us during this challenging time. I joined my family business Sagar Asia in 2014. Before that, I had short stints in the e-commerce industry but I soon realized if I was going to put in so much effort, I should invest this time in my family business.

 

Our company Sagar Asia specialises in aluminium ladders, aluminium extrusions, wind tower internals and aluminium aircraft docking and helicopter maintenance. My father set up the enterprise in 1977. Thanks to his able leadership, today we are one of the leading manufacturers of aluminium extrusions both in India and abroad.

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As global economies plunged, it was time to change the course

With a healthy annual turnover of over Rs 100 crore, everything was going well for us. But the unfortunate outbreak of the COVID-19 turned the course of events for our business. Like several other industries, we also took a severe hit.

Most of our regular customers are from the retail sector and original equipment manufacturers in wind and aviation sectors. There was a sudden plunge in demand as retail was closed and airlines were not allowed to operate for a long time.

I was quick to realise that there was huge demand for sanitization products in hospitals and offices. I thought that our expertise in aluminium products could help us build products that would be needed during the pandemic. Our research and development team quickly sprung into action.

With more contemporary solutions, we tapped into new markets

Within a few days, we decided to begin manufacturing aluminium disinfection tunnels and contactless disinfection stands. These can be easily set up outside factories and offices, and employees can walk through these sanitization tunnels to enter the workplace while sanitising their attire.

We also quickly developed another aluminium product — contactless COVID-19 testing booths.

We have provided these booths to the state governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to help them ramp up their testing capacity. This product is ensuring the safety of medical workers who are working at hospitals and collection centres in various parts of the states.

The pandemic is by far the sharpest turning point that our business has ever faced. Apart from operating costs, I was more worried about the well-being of our employees. Giving up was not an option. So, I decided to take some bold steps.

Our long standing association with Walmart has helped us expand our business pan-India. For instance, through Walmart we were able to receive orders from places which would have otherwise been difficult for us to reach. Their HoReCa channel has also helped to reach the right customers in a short period.

Now that we see the economy reopening gradually, we have also added products like contactless hand sanitizer stands and touch-free aluminium door openers to our catalogue. Our R&D team is working tirelessly to build products that are the need of the hour.

Entrepreneurs never stop. They take one challenge head on, tackle it and get ready to face the next. That is Sagar Asia’s story.

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