Friends Equipment, engaged in the sales and service of construction equipment, offers a wide range of products at a reasonable price along with spare parts supply. ôTo be more close to our customer, we provide operation and maintenance services and the installation and dismantling services for the offered product, says Rajeev Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Friends Equipment. Excerpts from the interview.

The off-take of equipment has come down drastically during the past couple of years. 
Yes, the off-take of equipment has come down drastically, especially in the last two years. We also have faced problems during this time, but the services we offered to our clients have enabled us to survive in this turbulent time. Although the sales were not very good in numbers we did well in service and generated good revenues. About 60 per cent of our business is from the service department.

What value-for-money propositions do you offer? 
Friends Equipment offers proven products with good quality and better after sales service network, easy availability of spare parts at the customer`s doorstep at a reasonable pricing.Mostly our response time to services at the site is within 24 hours. We regularly inspects the equipment offered by us on a free basis, which actually allows us to guide the customer regarding the proper servicing of the equipment and keeping the breakdown time to the minimum.

Has this economic slowdown given you a chance to focus more on servicing? 
Yes, the economic slowdown has made us closer to our customer as we got time to focus on after sales service, to understand the site situation and to improve the methods to provide speedy solutions. In sales, Friends Equipment offers Zoomlion crawler cranes, Weihua gantry cranes, Huaxia, passenger lift, JWY/Huaxia tower cranes, Runshare lifting platforms and in service, we offer operation and maintenance, erection and dismantling, servicing, and supply of spare parts for the equipment offered by us.

Has the de-growth in the real estate segment impacted your business? 
Actually, itÆs not the de-growth of the real estate sector which has impacted our business but the devaluation of Indian currency. The real estate segment is doing well as Indian manufacturers are still doing good business in this field.

What are the solutions offered by Friends Equipment for different segments of CE industry and what differentiates your offerings from the competition? 
Our core competence is our fast after sale service and flexible warrantee policy. We have focused more on after sales service because this is the area where most of the companies are lacking; we studied the market well and started offering the operation and maintenance and AMC services; right from the Day One, the equipment reaches the site. There are very few companies who offer such services to their customers. We are planning to open special warehouses and service offices in the different areas across India, where the quantity of our products is more than 25.

How do you assess the performance so far in 2013? 
Although 2012-13 was not very good for the CE market, we really did well even though we were new entrants. The year 2013 is good for us as we have achieved in the first quarter what we did last year. We are expecting to double growth by the second quarter and hope we will generate good business by the end of this fiscal.

How do you see your growth potential three years down the line? 
The market has started booming now as some major projects have already started to procure equipment. We understand that by the end of this financial year, things will be better and after the general election, the recession will be over. We have already made our five-year-plan and hope to get a hundred per cent growth every year.

How do you see Excon 2013 as a platform? 
Excon is always a good platform for the suppliers and buyers. This is the biggest event in India for the construction equipment industry. There are some products in the pipeline but we may not launch them immediately.

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