Conair strategises in Asia
US-based auxiliary equipment manufacturer Conair, which is part of the IPEG Group, has a strong presence in Asia, having set up a business in India, Nu-Vu Conair, in 2007 and continues to make headway in China and the rest of Asia.
The firm recently promoted Larry Doyle from Vice-President of Global Sales and Marketing to President. Doyle, who has a background in plastics processing machinery, joined Conair six years ago. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of North Carolina.
PRA caught up with Doyle recently to find out what plans Conair has in the region.
PRA: You have been instrumental in spearheading the successful launch of Nu-Vu Conair in India. Please provide a brief of the history, how the business is faring today and the products that are in demand in India.
Doyle: The Nu-Vu Conair joint venture was launched in 2007, when Conair joined forces with Nu-Vu Engineers in Ahmedabad in Gujarat state. Since its founding, the JV has been very successful, with sales practically doubling each year.
In March 2011, the company moved into a new, stand-alone manufacturing facility nearby. It has twice as much space as our original building and was custom-built for smoother workflow and greater efficiency. Domestic (Indian) consumption has been the main driver behind our growth in India and all market segments have contributed, although packaging has played the most significant role. The Indian market has demanding applications, just like any other country in the world.
Processors there are looking for equipment and technology that will allow them to improve the quality of their products and to increase their yield. To that end, Nu-Vu Conair brings together proven Conair technology – including desiccant-wheel dryers and EarthSmart portable chillers – as well as local knowledge, service and support.
PRA: Conair’s business has also grown in Asia. What plans are there in store to push for further growth of Conair in the region and in China?
Doyle: Our strategy in China and Greater Asia is much the same as it is in the US and the rest of the world – we work hard to understand what problems and challenges our customers face and then we develop or adapt innovative technology to meet those needs.
In China, for instance, we’re finding that customers are increasingly competing with global players and, in strong markets like packaging, electronics and especially automotive, they are more and more interested in products that boost efficiency and improve quality. For instance, there is a lot of interest in our TrueWeigh gravimetric extrusion control systems and new blender controls.
This comes both from plastics processors and also from extruder manufacturers who include our equipment as part of turnkey package. In many cases, the specialised extrusion equipment opened the door to sales of more conventional material-handling, drying and heat-transfer equipment.
PRA: A statement released says that you look forward to “driving more of the customer voice into everything we do in the Conair organisation”. How do you intend to achieve this?
Doyle: This is all part of the strategy I just mentioned above. Our success is directly tied to our customer’s success. To that end, we work hard to understand what is most important to them.
Over the past several years, we have made major changes in our staffing and structure in China, Taiwan and Singapore aimed at establishing closer relationships with processors in the region. We’ve positioned end-market specialists to serve customers in packaging and automotive. We’ve built a project management group in Asia with engineers who are able to provide fast response and comprehensive solutions to central systems requirements across the region. We’ve done this because our customers made it clear that these are the kinds of capabilities and services that they need. This is the voice of the customer.
PRA: What is the secret to Conair “consistently exceeding forecasts and enjoying robust year-over-year sales”, over the past 2 years?
Doyle: There really is no secret. In fact, our focus is on helping customers in Asia succeed. As they have seen what we’re doing, as they come to understand the benefits they can realise by working with a company with the knowledge and experience that Conair has, they’ve climbed on board.
PRA: Conair also changed its focus to the more growth related industries of medical and packaging, how have these two sectors added on to the business and growth of Conair?
Doyle: Conair has seen a lot of success in packaging, medical and several other major markets, which are driven largely by growing local demand. These are the markets that can best benefit from new products and technology of the sort that Conair can deliver.
Asian processors competing in these markets are under a lot of pressure. They need the support of a company that is focused and structured to understand them and deliver what they need, quickly and consistently, with the expertise, service and support that makes it all come together correctly, even under the pressure of a booming business climate.
PRA: How does the IPEG group intend to further satisfy market demands and what growth opportunities have been identified for the group’s two brands: Rapid and Conair?
Doyle: IPEG provides business-support and manufacturing services to both Conair and Rapid, which both operate independently.
IPEG recently expanded its manufacturing operation in Shanghai, which is a significant benefit to Conair and to our customers in the Greater China market. I know IPEG is committed to identifying new growth opportunities for the group and to supporting on-going development of the Conair and Rapid brands.