What was the state of affairs when you joined the company?
When I joined in January 1999, the state government had already rejected the rehabilitation plans and had taken a decision on closing down the unit. People were virtually on the roads. Salaries had not been paid for the past seven months and banks were not willing to extend any loans. The factories had been shut for the past two years.
Considering the sorry state of affairs in
Uptron, what were your initiatives to get things going?
At such a time, my biggest concern was survival and convincing the disillusioned employees that something can be done about the company. The first thing that I undertook was to involve the employees in the decision making and the revival of the company. Various brain storming sessions followed and what emerged was a three pronged strategy approach. One was realization of old debt, to the tune of Rs28crore by government organizations. The second was to complete all the unfinished orders and the third was to get new orders for our monopoly and duopoly products. With some funds flowing in, we have been able to get the employees back to work and get the factory running.
Since the company is already lacking in technology and finance, what is the management’s vision to survive in the cut throat market?
As a short-term measure, we felt that Uptron can be revived with the existing product line. We will capitalize on our monopoly or duopoly products and leverage those to start our cash flows. Of course, wherever needed, we would go in for some kind of technological upgradation for these products like
MemPro, geophysical water logger and self-printing ticketing machines.
Also, we are venturing into trading activities to leverage our vast marketing infrastructure and have tied up with companies like Schlumberger for electronic meters, Kores for franking, cash counting machines and NIIT for computer education.
The long-term strategy is to focus on the IT sector. We feel that the government does not have any agency for implementation of IT. So a government department is usually on its own or out-sources its IT requirements. Since we already have an existing expertise in communications and computers, we see this as a good business opportunity. Moreover, we have entered into strategic business alliances with companies like IBM, Compaq and Microsoft to beef for various projects. We have big plans for lucrative opportunities like medical transcription, converting Lucknow into a smart city, data warehousing and WAN implementation, to name a few, to sustain us in the long run.
What are your expectations from the government?
The government had rejected the revival plan on two counts. Firstly, the government did not have the financial resources to fund the company and secondly it felt that our technology is obsolete. It was felt in the government circles, that since new technology has come in and MNCs with huge financial and technological resources, chances of our survival are very slim. In short, we cannot compete in the dynamic markets of today. To address these problems, we are going in for technology upgradation and have made MNCs our partners, instead of competitors. So we have taken care of most of the problems the government had envisaged. What we are looking for from the government, is not financial grants but just business
Assuming that the plans are approved, how can you be sure that politicians and bureaucrats do not try to interfere once again in the affairs of the company?
I guess that for a public sector set-up, interferences are a part and parcel of their life. Since there is no running away from it, it all depends on how one manages the paradox of interference and free hand. I have been dealing with them for most of my life and I am confident that I will be successful in this endeavor also.