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Captaion: Bus body maker Aero Coach has made an enviable name for itself in the local industry, finds out SHOMA PATNAIK

‘Aero’ dynamically stable

The bus body industry in Goa is small, comprising only four manufacturers. One among them is Aero Coach located in Bethora industrial estate. Established in 1993, the company is a known name in the automotive industry. It’s 600-odd buses plying on Goan roads are of all kinds viz route buses used for ferrying passengers, luxury buses for tourist sightseeing, special purpose vehicles, delivery vans, ambulances, etc.
Customers range from the KTC to private operators as well as large corporates like Sesa Goa, Salgaocars, Dempo, Taj Hotels, GMC and Indian Airlines. The company is also an ancillary to ACGL and Tata Marcopolo in Dharwad. A robust bus body manufacturer, Aero Coach’s second division is powder coating where the client profile is equally strong. Customers for powder coating and painting include Diebold, Andrew Telecommunication, Bosch India Ltd, Seimens, Infinity Modules and Crompton Greaves Ltd, among others.
Aero Coach ownership is between Edward Monteiro, managing partner, and Satish Shinde, business partner. The company, explains Monteiro, has made steady progress since inception except for the first five years of existence which are difficult years anyway for any small unit. However, a tough phase was in 2002 when the diversification into powder coating happened after realising that sticking to one product was risky in an industry like bus body where the work load is not uniform around the year.
The company’s turnover, he continues, is currently Rs eight crore (2013-14) with equal contribution from the two divisions. As for the current year, it looks promising with 50 per cent of the target achieved in the first six months. In November 2013, an expansion of its powder coating division was commissioned which will add to turnover in the coming years and ensure future growth.
The bus body industry, continues Monteiro, is highly competitive. Manufacturers have to face competition from ready-built buses from major automobile companies like Tata, Ashok Leyland, Eicher, Swaraj Mazda, etc, and also face the heat from a large local producer like ACGL. Further, the unorganised sector from neighbouring states is a constant rival which implies that the market is pretty much saturated with not much scope for further expansion.
In the case of powder coating, the outlook is better despite the presence of several small operators in the field. In powder coating, says Monteiro, MNC customers or companies who cater to export markets want quality and are willing to pay a higher rate per sq feet for superior work.
Longer term the company mission, points out Monteiro, is to achieve continual improvement and to become a company of repute in the field of automotive body building and surface coating. The aim is to grow by at least 20 per cent every year.
Aero Coach is currently a small unit and there are several milestones to be crossed before it can be classified as a medium unit. Growth, says Monteiro, will occur “when we venture into new businesses and they will be related to our present businesses in line with our automotive profile.”
An ex-ACGL employee, Monterio worked for nine years before deciding to start his own unit. Getting orders in the early years was not too much of a struggle but executing while adhering to quality at competitive price was the challenging part, but nonetheless, he has nothing but fond memories.
An ISO 9001:2008 certified company, Aero Coach employs 80 people. The work is labour intensive and therefore good for a state like Goa where local people need employment, says Monteiro. The company is equipped with all types of machinery including CNC punch press and bending as well as team of highly skilled and dedicated work force. It ensures quality and timely delivery to all customers.
The company growth, says Monteiro, has occurred due to becoming a vendor to large industry and his fervent hope for Goa is for more large manufacturers to set up plants to develop many small units like his.

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