“European companies are still on time to grasp the opportunities of the Indian automotive sector. At present, India is still importing a large percentage of vehicle components, there is still scope for companies to be located in India, the sector needs good suppliers.”
Xabier Esquibel is CEO of Rinder India Pvt. Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of Rinder Industrial, Spanish manufacturer of lighting equipment for the automative industry.
Rinder india Pvt.Ltd has three production plants in India, from which they supply to YAMAHA, KAWASAKI, NISSAN, TATA. Rinder India’s turnover is 30 million euro per year and employs 500 people.
INDOLINK: What are you doing in India and how long have you been here?
XABI ESKIBEL: I work in the automotive industry providing lighting equipments for motorcycles and comercial vehicles. About how long I’ve been here some people say far too much. This is my second stage in this great country. In my first stay, I spent 3 years and after a period of 2 years in Spain, I decided to come back. In the second stage I have been one year already and i am pleased to be here.
IL: What made you come to India ? What are the main reasons and expectations that brought you here?
XE: I always considered that having international experience would open the doors for more opportunities and would give me the chance to learn how to move around the world. India offered me a professional opportunity to do so and here I am.
IL: Which were your main concerns?
XE: My principal worry was not having the opportunity to go abroad. Going abroad means risk but I believe not going is even riskier.
IL: And your concernes when coming to India ?
XE: I was worried about the idea of failing to connect with the people here, not being able to understand them, the impossibility to communicate ideas, cultural barriers…
IL: Is the experience being as expected?
XE: Better than expected. I had a partial view of India. Now I´ve learned there are different Indias, within this subcontinent. In some of them you can lead a regular life, in others is difficult to survive a week.
IL: What would you say is the most positive aspect?
XE: The most positive thing is the optimistic attitude with which they face the challenges in this country. For Indian people nothing is impossible. This atmosphere of optimism helps to overcome difficult situations.
IL: And the main difficulties? What was/is the hardest part?
XE: The harder part was the physical adaptation to climate and food. It´s hot, you eat less , you lose weight ,the air condittioning is always very high. You must be very careful to keep healthy.
IL: With what you know now, what would you change if you start over again?
XE: Lots of things! During the first months, nothing seems to work. You are anxious, t your health is damaged… Finally you see that things gets sorted outwith time and that gives you confidence to face new challenges from a different perspective.
IL: Plans for the future?
XE: To continue learning how to do business in emerging countries. (this is just the beginning).
IL: How´s Rinder’s project going?
XE: It’s doing well. We are in a competitive and changing sector in which we must continuously reinvent the strategy. We have a good team and good ideas, that gives us a competitive advantage.
IL: What are your (company´s) future plans in India?
XE: Continue growing in the two wheelers industry, attracting new customers, being technology leaders…
IL: Which is the potential the automotive sector has in India? Do you see opportunities for other Spanish companies?
XE: The sector grows beetwen 15 and 20% per year. Pune is becoming what Detroit was previusly. Nowadays Volkswagen, Daimler, General Motors, Mahindra, Tata, Fiat…are already here, there is a growing market and plenty of business opportunities.
IL: Do you think it may be too late for the Spanish automotive companies that have not entered this market yet or are they still on time?
XE: Not at all, they are still on time. At present, India is still importing a large percentage of vehicle components, there is still scope for companies to be located in India, the sector needs good suppliers in industrial areas.. The best would be to come with a customer (assured sales) in order to minimize the risk of investment.
IL: In your opinion, what is the key to success in India?
XE: The key to success is the human team that you form. You must select and retain the best people, and get the best from them.
IL: With the high attrition rate existing currently in India, could you give any advice on how to retain the human capital?
XE: Setting up a good relationship with them, for this you require to be physically present in this country.
IL: What advice would you give a newly arrived businessman in India who intends to set up a business?
XE: I would tell him that his survival depends on his level of flexibility and adaptability to this country. To be flexibly you need to take some risk and to come on your own (without an Indian partner) and to adapt, it’s necessary to understand the indian way of thinking by living here.
IL: Any book or website that you recommend?
XE: The India Way (Harvard Business Press)