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We have established many brands in India with an ethos of quality over pricing, showing that an investment in better quality materials has much better long-term benefits an interview with Mr Pradip Popat, Chairman Apex Chromatography Pvt Ltd.
Mr Pradip Popat founded Apex Chromatography 40 years ago with family and presently serving as chairman of the company. With the experience of serving a broad range of customers for many years. The company represents market leaders such as Avantor, GE, Hichrom, Dr Maisch, V:Kit, Justrite and many higher quality product manufacturers.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
My family migrated from East Africa in 1965, and we settled in Hyderabad and made this our home. After completion of my education, I decided to set up a business in 1977. Having no experience in business, initial period was a challenge, and a great learning exercise. Along with my brother, we started Apex Enterprises, dealing in Laboratory Chemicals, Glassware and Scientific Equipment. After a slow start in the first year, we took off very well and established ourselves in this new business. My brother, Ashit Kumar, who was a state level cricket player, gave up his cricketing ambition, and focused on the administration of the business, while I worked on developing business, and personally delivering the goods on a bike. Soon we became renowned for our services and the extensive range of laboratory products. Our reputation brought us customers from all parts of India, and we became one of the leading suppliers of Laboratory Chemicals and Equipments.
Apex Chromatography, product showcase in an International exhibition in India
In the early 1990’s we started working on Chromatography products, initially promoting HPLC Columns and TLC plates, and by the end of the decade, we added a wide range of HPLC / GC columns and Accessories. This took us on a course to fully establish the Chromatography products line of business and in the year 2005, we formed our new company, Apex Chromatography Pvt. Ltd., a fully focused company on Chromatography products and Instruments
What do/did you like most and least about your present/most recent position?
As a Director focused on Business Development, I enjoy the traveling and visiting customers, giving me an opportunity to personally connect with our clients, and associating myself with our principals in the introduction of the new product ranges. I love meeting new people, learning about new products and developments, helping source materials that are hard to find in India. Building new relationships has always been my favourite aspect of my work.
Apex Chromatography, Technical Team during Training at Copley Scientific, UK
What have been the main accomplishments of Apex Chromatography during the last five years?
Having started as a Chemical distribution company, we had added Analytical products and Chromatography consumables to our range over the years. In the past 6 years we have added an Inhalation products portfolio, supporting an entire new range of products, and increasing the sales and service footprint for the world market leader in this field in India.
Team Apex Chromatography with Company’s Chairman Mr Pradip Popat, MD Mr Rajiv Popat and Directors Rahul Popat and Rupen Popat
This has helped us establish an excellent capability of providing solutions in the range of Inhaler Testing and Powder testing, bringing us closer to our customers in this area of business. We are constantly looking to add new capabilities and promote niche products. We have established many brands in India with an ethos of quality over pricing, showing that an investment in better quality materials has much better long-term benefits.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving company goals?
We have gone through tough times before and overcome many challenges, India is a very price driven market, the biggest challenge has and always will be trying to find a balance between pricing and quality, we invest a lot of money into technically supporting our products, we have extensive operations to ensure that we maintain personal relationships with our customers as well, but a lot of times, we end up with very little economic reward because we also aim to keep our prices competitive and the market is flooded with many cheap products. In the end, we continue to grow and build on our relationships, being recognized across the country in our field. This is the most important thing to us.
How do you build rapport with the management team? What role do others play in actualizing your strategies?
My core management team is my family, my two sons and nephew, I work very closely with them and they come to me regularly for advice. They are responsible in executing our strategies, they understand and appreciate my core values and I can utilize their individual strengths to make us stronger as a team. We treat all our team members like family, some have been around for decades, I have also always been available to all my employees, friends, colleagues and even competitors, I am always reachable to anyone, I believe that sharing experience and knowledge can never be a bad thing. I am always available to help people.
Mr Rahul Popat, Director Apex Chromatography representing Copley Scientific in Inhalation Insights, Mumbai 2019 India
Sir, what do you consider the most important contribution of your professional experiences have made to Apex Chromatography? What was your role?
My experience with starting a business from ground up, the importance of being available personally to customers, and the value of long term relationships over making fast money is something I have passed on to my children and employees, we pride ourselves in working closely with customers and principals all over the world and having open transparent relationships. Business is not always just about making money, it is about providing a service, it is about knowing what part you play in the bigger picture and constantly improving your service. I learnt that when I started, I have passed this on to the next generation and to our entire team, we all work with the same values.
Do you pick and choose, or do you take all the ideas and attempt to work with them?
I personally will listen to all ideas, good or bad, and let people choose the risks they want to take after a collective conversation, sometimes things don’t work out, other times, we are surprised that they pulled off something incredible. I advise people after listening to them and let them have the freedom to make the decisions.
Director Mr Rupen Popat with MD Mr Rajiv Popat, Apex Chromatography Pvt Ltd
What are your opinion on COVID-19 situation on Laboratory and Analytical Equipment Industry? Covid 19 has changed the world, how we behave and how we live, it is too early to predict the long-term damage this will cause to the economy and industry, at the moment, the impact is not as damaging for our industry than it is for other industries. The analytical equipment industry is very dependent on Pharma and Research, in some ways, the pandemic has increased demand, however, economic challenges have their own impact in terms of budgeting for this growing demand and thus a more aggressive approach towards negotiations, this, combined with increased costs and exchange rate fluctuations will have an impact on our industry.I feel that any growth in revenue will be offset by the decrease in profitability.
Does it give opportunity for Bio-Pharmaceutical industry to showcase its importance? Absolutely, in some ways, it is going to be a testament to all the research and hard work from a collective group of professionals, the whole world is working together and racing against time to find better treatments and a cure, on the other hand, COVID has a lot of unforeseen challenges around the corner, the long term effects of the Virus will lead to the need for more advanced medicine in the future as well.
What are the key objectives that you would like to achieve in the upcoming three years?
We want to continue to grow and add more product lines and capability to our organization, bringing in new technology and introducing better quality products into the market which can bring both productivity and quality increase to the Indian manufacturing. Our aim is to always work on improving ourselves and we will continue to work on that.