In December 2015, Balkrishna Industries unveiled its game-changing off-highway tire plant in Bhuj, India. A roughly $500 million investment, the greenfield facility positions BKT to double its tire production.
Rajiv Poddar, joint managing director and next in line to lead India-based tiremaker, was the driving force behind the behemoth plant. From developing the concept to planning and the execution of the Bhuj facility, Poddar was there to make sure the plant came to life.
“Bhuj started out as just an idea,” he explains. “The process has been very long and tedious, from land acquisition to designing for the best equipment to employing the best manpower. The financing equaled the entire net worth of our company at that time. Seeing the project take shape as per our outlined plans has been most satisfying. This has provided the best feeling of achievement not only for myself, but the entire team involved in the project.”
Making Bhuj a reality was a long time coming for Poddar. While many tire dealerships are run by families, Poddar has been on the other side as the third-generation member to help run a tire manufacturer.
“My grandfather started the business around the time I was born. The tire industry has always been close to my heart and exciting,” he says. “The family business has grown. This made me join the business and continue the tradition. I want to contribute, to build the vision of my grandfather and my father into a reality.”
Joining the family business as an executive, Poddar made sure to start on the shop floor to learn the products with plenty of on-the-job experience and exposure to learn the various aspects of the business. Knowing the product continues to be something Poddar is passionate about.
“Firstly, it is a consumer product, [which] makes tire industry more exciting due to sheer variety of products, patterns and various applications of our tires,” he says. “Further, our products are being sold in over 130 countries which creates opportunities to understand various cultures and a chance to meet new people.”
With the Bhuj plant already under his belt, Poddar still has his sights set on making BKT digitized. With the tire industry rapidly changing with new technology, he says BKT is already including automation and data exchange into manufacturing technologies. In the long run, Poddar wants to keep growing the business to become a global leader.
“My vision is to achieve worldwide leadership in the off-highway tire market. In the short-term, we would like to increase our global market share from 6% to 10% in next three years.”
Fun Fact: As a Formula One racing enthusiast, if Poddar could meet anyone living or dead he would meet retired Formula One driver Michael Schumacher.