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On a ‘concrete’ footing

Gauri Falari, proprietor Shantadurga Concretes, is aiming to create a niche for herself in the concrete paver market, finds out SHOMA PATNAIK

 

The concrete paver industry in Goa is set to advance. Demand is growing and enthused by the fact that several entrepreneurs have jumped into the fray. There are about 10-12 local manufacturers currently, and among them Gauri Falari is the only woman running a unit. Her company Shantadurga Concretes, Nanoda, is a known name in the market.

A petite personality and reared in interior Goa, it is difficult to visualise Falari in dusty and labour line of activity as concrete pavers. But ask around and discover that she is a hands-on manufacturer who is fully involved with production and marketing.

Shantadurga Concretes commenced operations in October 2010 and in the last four years it has completed several projects successfully. This includes Vision Hospital, Duler, housing complexes in Socorro, Kadamba Plateau, Sangolda, two-three commercial projects along with orders executed for a resort in Hubli.

The company’s turnover, according to Falari, is inching towards Rs 60 lakh in 2014-15. In the current year, it has cleared off its long term debt and makes profits in line with other units. The company’s aim is to target the upper-end of the market and focus on value.

Her company, explains Falari, is established under the PMEG scheme and owes its existence to GIDC that assisted and educated her about the scheme and it’s potential for individuals wishing to take up business. A first-time entrepreneur, Falari says that she gained insights into business after marriage in 2005 and after getting involved in her husband’s family businesses.

She joined the family cashew unit a year after marriage, but without any commerce background it was tough for her to understand accounting terms. From 2008, she was involved in marketing concretes blocks made by her husband’s proprietary unit. During this period she studied different concrete units and once when she went looking out for block making machinery in Mangalore she happened to chance across a pavers unit.

She was impressed with the quality and aesthetic appeal of pavers, and later every time she came across paver covered surfaces, she began noticing the crying need for quality. Also, during discussions with clients she realised that Goa has a very high demand for good quality pavers. However, a pavers manufacturing unit required good financial backup and she was at a loss to understand how to organise funds for a unit.

Receiving financial assistance through the PMEG scheme was crucial initially, she says, and it was lucky that the family-owned unused premises was where the unit could be housed. Shantadurga Concretes, she continues, is 90 per cent run by her, although her husband’s balance 10 per cent help is a big support.

Like all first-time entrepreneurs Falari had to go through a trying phase in the early years. She considered it as hurdles initially but later realised that it strengthened her to be technically superior. In due course, she learnt every minor aspect of production, machinery setup, maintenance and marketing. The unit employs 14 people but in busy periods it takes in contract employees.

Concrete pavers, informs Falari, is altogether a different product from concrete blocks that her husband makes. While concrete blocks use cement and stone dust, paver production is more complex as it involves multiple components. Running the unit, she continues, is basically about coordination in different departments viz between the laboratory, supervisor, client and transporters. As married, working and a mother, she is used to co-ordinating. There are not many women in manufacturing, but Falari is of the opinion that gender does not make any difference at all. Time constraint makes ladies great multi-taskers and sometimes it means juggling between business, home and children’s school education.

The paver industry is showing activity in Goa with local production increasing. That is because higher usage of it as they have multiple applications, in PWD or state infrastructure projects, residential, commercial , pathways, swimming pool areas, etc. Shantadurga Concretes focuses on residential, commercial and individual house projects. The company’s products stress on aesthetics and strength. In the future too, it will continue to focus on the two features while taking them to a higher level. New pigments and innovative shapes are in the pipeline as innovations are undertaken in the quality.

A clued-in producer, Falari says the industrial environment in Goa is supportive to entrepreneurs. However, the work involved in registration and setting up a unit is time consuming and wastes entrepreneurs’ energy on official jobs instead of utilising it in developing technical skills. Therefore, a single window solution is absolutely essential.

If not manufacturing pavers, she would be doing farming of organic fruits, spices and herbs and that is her long term intention.

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