"Digitisation Brings Down Overall Cost" – Vinod Aggarwal, CEO, VECV
Published On Jan 18, 2017
We got in touch with Mr Vinod Aggarwal, CEO of one of India’s oldest commercial vehicle manufacturing brands,VECV, and spoke to him on topics ranging from his life at VECV to the trucking industry going digital in every way possible. Here is what he had to say.
How different is life after becoming CEO of one of the best commercial vehicle manufacturers in India?
Life has become very interesting and full of challenges. I have always loved challenges, and this new role has presented me with an opportunity to push limits. We at VECV strive to achieve more in a better way every day. Being CEO enables me to guide people towards perfection in a much simpler manner.
Please share your experience in VECV before becoming the CEO.
I have worked with VECV as the group’s CFO as well. A CFO is different from a CEO, as the former majorly thinks keeping financial perspective in mind, however the latter is responsible for making much tighter decisions. Also, a CFO acts as the mirror for an organization in terms of money, but a CEO, many a times takes risks as well. (Laughingly adds) I now understand why some of my initiatives were turned down, during my tenure as the group’s CFO.
What’s the work process here at the corporate centre and other VECV facilities in the country?
It is the same everywhere. We at VECV are glad and thankful to the almighty, to have been blessed with the best team in the country. All employees at VECV follow a transparent work model. The doors that lead to senior officials’ cabins are always open to all. A happy workplace is the first necessity of meeting goals and we make sure the atmosphere at every VECV facility is full of happiness and gratitude.
You are a commerce graduate, a Punjab University topper, a trained CA and a costs and works accountant, how have these educational qualifications apart from your experience of 34 golden years with VECV helped you?
Any and every designation inside an organisation requires specialisation in a core competency. Finance and reading more about the same is what I perceive as my core competency. All the educational and academic titles you mentioned have helped me through my career and continue to do the same. Work experience, on the other hand, has enabled me to sight perspectives different from finance. After all, you can’t just see business or life from a single perspective and grow at the same time. Academics, work experience, every day interactions have all helped in making both personal and official decisions, and I am grateful for everything I have learnt here at VECV. It has all been a part of the process required to create that balance everyone thinks of.
A team of new inexperienced engineers from India’s top notch colleges, or a team of experienced engineers from ‘not so famous’ colleges, which will you bet your money on for a new product development? Why?
I will integrate both the teams. Young, inexperienced blood brings out of the box thinking, while experience helps and guides when something goes wrong, or is about to go wrong. I always make sure that all the teams at VECV are a blend of both. It helps build better solutions.
Speaking of new blood, why do you think India has not seen any start-up in the vehicle manufacturing sector?
There are a number of entry barriers restricting people from taking up vehicle manufacturing in India, especially commercial vehicle manufacturing. One can’t just copy and paste technology from a foreign land and convert it into an overnight success story in India. An ocean of financial backup is required to start thinking about truck or bus manufacturing. Research, road test, team costs and many other necessities required for automobile manufacturing only add to the overall cost. Don’t forget the service network that needs to be set up. Also, most of the start-ups in the country have been aligned in the line of service sector. It, indeed, is difficult to start something around primary and secondary economic sectors.
How has the collaboration between Eicher and Volvo faired so far?
The collaboration between the two is really something to look up for. Both the truck and bus manufacturers have gained a lot from each other. We have been able to offer a new improved product line up with help of Volvo’s technology in the last three years. Our Pro series range is a proof of the effectiveness that the collaboration has delivered for VECV.
What’s the current focus on?
We are currently busy in developing and testing solutions for BS-IV and mandatory AC implementation in the country. VECV wants its line of trucks, buses and all other solutions to be the best for consumers.
Will BS-IV and mandatory AC regulations have any effect on the truck sales in the country? What are VECV’s plans to cope with the same?
Prices are bound to go up after BS-IV and AC regulations become mandatory in the country, but VECV will simply go with the flow and let the customer decide whether he wants to buy new products or not. If a business man is giving up on an opportunity, someone else will pick it up in a matter of seconds. Same goes with the truck industry, as people involved in India’s transport sector will need to buy new vehicles for staying in the business. There might be a short term effect on truck sales, but the numbers will jump back to normal after a small gap in time.
Tell us something about the VECV-IOCL’s driver empowerment facility located in Manesar?
Truck drivers are the most neglected lot of people in India. We at VECV were constantly researching about solutions we can offer to make their lives simpler. This driver empowerment facility in Manesar is one of our efforts in that direction. The facility has a safe parking area, restroom, laundry, dhaba, open bathing facility, amphitheatre, saloon and a doctor’s office dedicated for truck drivers. Drivers deciding to stay at the facility are also trained on various topics including mileage and safe driving. We plan to develop many such facilities in collaboration with IOCL in the near future.
Many believe that commercial vehicle sales and digitisation can’t go hand in hand. What’s your take on that?
Digitisation is going only one way and that is upwards. More and more people are taking to the digital route for meeting every day expenses. Digitisation does help in comparing features of various trucks and buses on one screen, but an individual will always like to take a live trial before finalising a product. Digitisation, on the other hand brings down the overall cost. A tech savvy person will spend less in researching than one using conventional methods to do the same. In my view, in due course of time, people will soon witness digitisation and live trials go hand in hand. Moreover, people in the CV industry are becoming more and more tech savvy.
Is VECV planning anything on the digital front?
Definitely yes, we are thinking of introducing a new system that will enable both the brand and consumers to look into their history together. Consumers and VECV, using the initiative will be able to know how long they have been associated with each other in a fraction of a second. Moreover, our new products come equipped with many new digital measures.
Do you think organisations like TrucksDekho.com add value to the overall commercial vehicle market in India? What else do you think should such companies venture into?
If people are making gains out of the portal and utilising it for different searches, then, it indeed is adding value to the market. Used trucks market is something I want to see grow in the country and companies like TrucksDekho, as per me, should venture into the same.