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SGL: Serving Regional Markets Through Regional Production
With a new production unit started on March 2, 2012 in Pune, SGL Carbon India has expanded its operation in the country. SGL Group is one of the world's leading manufacturers of carbon-based products and materials.

In an email interaction with CEW, Manfred Neumaier, Managing Director, SGL Carbon India Pvt Ltd, revealerd, "SGL Group's core competencies are its expertise in high-temperature technology as well as its applications and engineering know-how gained over many years. These competencies enable the Company to make full use of its broad material base. Products from SGL Group are used predominantly in the steel, aluminum, automotive and chemical industries as well as in the semi-conductor, solar and LED sectors, and in lithium-ion batteries. Carbon-based materials and products are also being used increasingly in the wind power, aerospace and defense industries." With 46 production sites in Europe, North America and Asia as well as a service network covering more than 100 countries, the SGL Group is a company with a global presence. "In 2011, the Company's workforce of around 6,500 employees generated sales of EUR 1,540 million," Neumaier added.

In India, the company was founded in the year 2005 as a trading and distributing organisation of SGL Carbon in India, handling the graphite based heat exchangers, columns and associated product. When asked about the need of the expansion need, Neumaier said, „Soon after its foundation, the company realised necessity to start local value addition and the company leased property and office including a production plant in Hindjewadi-Pune. The local value addition was increased year by year with addition of new machines and increasing amount of people. In 2010, the company purchased

property in the five star industrial estate of Ranjangaon-Pune and started construction of a plant and office much bigger then the old Hindjewadi site to allow for more local value addition and further growth that was not any more possible at the old site. The new plant of SGL in Pune proved to be significant for the company as it has not only allowed the current production to expand further but also enabled SGL to start new business lines with graphite specialty products for industrial and electrical application."

The Pune site is still a smaller site in the global overall SGL network; however, the site will grow with the growth of the Indian industry and will become an important part of the global production and marketing network of the SGL Group. The Indian market has since the interception of SGL in India responded in a very positive way. The company is now able to produce tailor-made products for the needs of its Indian customers.

"It is obvious that SGL started with a small production unit and have ever since grown, expanded and increased the local value addition. This shows clearly the commitment of SGL but also the positive response of our clients in India and the high acceptance level of our products and services. The USP of our products is the great reliability, which leads to less downtime in production and less consequent losses in production," he further explained. SGL not only offers products but also provide total solutions and therefore give total ownership to its clients.

According to Neumaier: "Electrical and thermal conductivity, heat and corrosion resistance as well as high mechanical strength combined with low weight are the unique properties of SGL's graphite specialties." SGL Group has a strong R&D focus in all the business areas to improve the products, facilitate the usage and give its customers the highest benefit in using those products to improve efficiency and productivity. There are many areas where SGL is active and one is the area of renewable energies, which is also a big issue in India.

"All these products are available for the Indian market and we as SGL India are observing the market development closely to offer the wide variety of products at the right time to the interested users in India. A carbon fiber production unit is currently not planned for India however we observe the market very closely and monitor the development. This is not planned for the time being," Neumaier said. With its new expanded production base in Pune, SGL can cater for the needs of the market. Neumaier believes that the new facility in Pune laid the foundation for SGL's presence in India.

For expanding horizons to foreign country, participation in events and exhibitions is of great importance. SGL duly understood the strategy and exhibited its caliber in Indian market time to time.

"We participate actively in the Chemtech exhibition in Mumbai held every two years to promote the full range of our products. We also participated just recently in the Urban Mela in Mumbai sponsored by the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC), which was very successful. Especially with the Chemtech exhibition we reach most of the chemical industry in India and neighboring countries and feel that this is an excellent forum to showcase our products and to reach new potential clients but also strengthen our relationship with current clients." Neumaier commented.

SGL Group has already bagged couple of awards as Top Employer in Germany. Elaborating company's strategies to maintain the reputation of the company as an 'Employer' in India, Neumaier said, "We are an affiliate of a global operating company and therefore offer all benefits of a reputable employer to our people. With our new site we improved the benefits for our people even more. We not only offer a state-of-the-art working environment and working place but also a lot of amenities for the people working with us. People are our most valuable asset and therefore we take care and look after them as best as possible."

SGL plans to make significant contribution to the growing high tech industry in India such as solar, semiconductor and LED, which will surely lead to further growth and expansion of its presence. It is also a strict company policy to serve regional markets through regional production infrastructure. The company is determined to strongly participate in India's positive outlook for the future.