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“Partnership, Performance, Quality, Innovation and Beauty are the Values that Underpin Our Identity”
Sayed Anwar Ali, Giesse S.p.A.
In an Interview with WFM, Sayed Anwar Ali Country Manager,
Giesse S.p.A. talks about his company, its growth, various products, facilities, the evolution of fenestration and the architectural hardware industry in India, the company’s contribution to bringing about the current revolution in the fenestration sector, some of their major projects, and the future of façade and fenestration industry in India. Excerpts from the interview…
Please tell us about your company SchlegelGiesse, and yourself? How long the company has been in this business in the Indian market?
SchlegelGiesse came into being in 2016 as a result of the business integration between SCHLEGEL, a leading English company operating in the sealing systems market, and GIESSE, an Italian company specialising in aluminium window and door accessories. The merger led to the creation of one of the foremost companies in the window and door sector with 19 sites, 8 production centres, around 1200 crores in annual turnover and a business presence that spans continents, going from Latin America to Oceania with over 800 strong workforce.
We are the international division of TYMAN PLC, a group listed on the London Stock Exchange, with an annual turnover of around 6000 crores, and whose commercial network reaches clients in over 100 countries, our goal is to exceed customer expectations everywhere under the dynamic leadership of Peter Santo, Chief Executive Officer.
In India, we established ourselves as a branch office in 2007 of Giesse S.p.A, the inventors of “Cortina” the first Cremone handle in 1968 and have been a front runner in the gamut of hardware for aluminium windows since then. Our market presence has been reinforced since the merger with Schlegel and we have been a one-stop solution for all kinds of doors windows and curtainwall accessories ever since.
SchlegelGiesse offers its customers a vast range of standard components and boasts over 150 registered patents. What this means is that we provide integrated hardware solutions and sealing systems for doors and windows in aluminium, wood and uPVC, in India, under the expert guidance of our General Manager Stefano Celani, who is responsible for the Middle East and Indian market.
Partnership, Performance, Quality, Innovation and Beauty – these are the values that underpin our identity, serving as a beacon to us as we explore new ideas. The secret to our success lies in our ability to design, manufacture and implement cutting-edge solutions and in our single-minded determination to deliver added value in the field of windows, doors and curtain walls.
Tell us briefly about your journey with the company over the past 13 years, and also about your major success stories in India.
Giesse Tilt and Turn
I was working for a uPVC window manufacturing company (Fenesta) when I was offered this opportunity to bring and establish GIESSE in India, by Massimiliano Palumbo our Business Development Director in 2007. The hunger for accomplishment and youthful zeal in me jumped at the chance and I grabbed it with utmost enthusiasm.
The beginning was humble. After initial rounds of discussions on the products and services to be offered in India, I had to register the company in India as a Branch office and find an office space – not too big but big enough to house a modest team and a small sample display area.
We had our first office in Mahalaxmi in Mumbai. Starting with 1 person in 2007 (myself), we gradually grew the team and added sales, technical and logistics support and office help. In the initial years, we kept the stock only through distributors, but as the business needs evolved, and the business grew, the need for a bigger facility arose.
Thus we moved to a bigger premise that has our office, warehouse, experience centre and training facility in Juinagar in Navi Mumbai in 2014. Customers started appreciating our products and services and now we supply and service hundreds of customers, thanks to the acquisition as we got a larger and more diverse gamut of products in our portfolio along with the existing ones.
It has been an exciting journey and I would say that each customer signed, each project supplied and executed successfully, and each question answered is a success story.
What are the product categories offered by SchlegelGiesse?
As I mentioned, we have a full range of integrated hardware for doors, windows and curtain walls in aluminium, wood and uPVC vis-àvis
a. Hardware for side-hung, (inward and outward), tilt-and-turn and security windows
b. Hardware for sliding windows and doors with single and multipoint locking options
c. Hardware for top-hung, side hung in structural glazing and curtain wall systems
d. Hardware for doors with single and multipoint locking options
You name it and we have it. And we don’t shy away from new developments, as and when the market needs it. Besides, we have a unique range of products and boast over 150 patents. Please tell us about your company’s facilities and structure.
SchlegelGiesse has eight manufacturing plants and a combined workforce of more than 800 team players. We also have a research & development laboratory which focuses not only on new developments but also on the improvement of existing ones. Our laboratory mainly engages in experimental work to find the best solutions for accessories and sealing systems during the product development phase. Our manufacturing facilities follow strict LEED guidelines for building sustainability.
In India, we have an office in Navi Mumbai with a complete support system for the developers, metal builders (fabricators) and consultants. We have technical experts Suheil Syed to guide and assist on special or even mundane requirements. We have a solid sales team spread over all the regions of the country, along with a sturdy distribution network, assisting the customers on a daily basis with their requirements. We have a warehouse having a stock of more than 500 items that we maintain at all times, enabling timely supplies, and alleviating the most common problem in our industry – long lead times.
Giesse manufacturing plant at Budrio, Italy
We also have a fully functional experience centre where life-sized samples of operable doors and windows are installed demonstrating various functionalities and applications of hardware and accessories. Architects, consultants and even fabricators can experience the working of such functionalities at the experience centre and make an informed choice about the type of opening they would like to have in their buildings. We have a complete range in the display, like casement inward & outwards windows, sliding with different types of multi-point locking systems, tilt & turn, tilt & slide, lift & slide, pivot, parallel window, out swing operator and many more.
How do you see the fenestration industry and the architectural hardware industry evolving in India?
SchlegelGiesse HQ – Budrio, Italy
Architectural hardware and its understanding have evolved considerably in the past decade or so. From the primitive hasps made of metal bars to secure the door/ window panels, now is the time for electronic locks and hardware to ensure complete tightness of the window/door sashes.
The customers have been educated and they now understand the importance of having a properly sealed and secure door/window in their building. Much credit goes to the façade consultants who have through the course of years advised the importance of proper hardware, multipoint locking and other security measures for windows, doors and curtain wall openings wherein you can enjoy the outdoors when you want to while being secure inside when required.
Educational conferences like World of Facades, World of Fenestration, World of Windows, journals like WFM and numerous other educational platforms have ensured that the end customer now knows that good hardware is not only necessary but is the backbone of a proper functional window. So yes, the customer has evolved and so has the market.
What has been your or your organization’s contribution to bringing about the current revolution in the fenestration sector?
When we started off, we used to get run-of-the-mill enquiries for hardware like rollers, locks, handles, etc. We started meeting the designers and workshop professionals to understand their needs and realised that a lot of makeshift arrangements, as we call them jugaads, were rampant.
We initiated compatibility studies for each requirement and started pushing for drawings before proposing solutions. Once we received the drawings, we would study them and come up with the optimum solution for the individual requirement from our large portfolio.
This helped us to understand the requirements and the customers to get the correct solution instead of just complying with whatever they thought was available. This, I believe, was one of the key steps that our organisation undertook in order to provide optimum solutions to the customer. Secondly, we have a training centre where we organise periodic training on “Application and the importance of hardware” for the metal builders/ façade contractors, and other stakeholders on the functionality, selection and compatibility of various hardware components and to use them properly for desired results.
Please tell us about a few of your iconic and innovative products.
We don’t just look to the future – We create it. Innovation is at the heart of our organisation and we take pride in taking the lead. Some of our iconic products include:
Antigerm™, which is the exclusive SchlegelGiesse antibacterial treatment for handles. It is based on resin composed of silver ions and water-based varnish and contains no chemical solvents. Antigerm™ is the ideal solution for applications where hygiene is critical, such as nurseries, nursing homes, schools, hospitals, leisure centres, hotels and laboratories. Antigerm™ antibacterial treatment for handles is certified by IMSL international laboratories (UK Industrial Microbiological Services Limited), in accordance with the requirements of the ISO 22196:2007
OS Operator: With Giesse OS Operator, three functions are combined into one piece of hardware, with only 180-degree movement of a single Cremone handle, a user can now open and close the window, engage and disengage multipoint locking and ensure security and safety with a limited opening, also a provision of mesh as handle is fixed on frame profile and not on the sash profile.
One Crest, Chennai is a 17-story residential building, in which we supplied sliding windows and door hardware
C.H.I.C Concealed Hardware Innovative Components: A new generation of Windows calls for a new generation of hardware: C.H.I.C. and NP SUPRA handle with exclusive technology SchlegelGiesse NP. The result is a revolutionary system of concealed hardware for Sidehung and Tilt-and-Turn windows through which it is possible to create a new kind of window, with a reduced front section and hinges that are concealed within the profile.
In your view, how important is the role of the right hardware in fenestration?
Hardware is like a backbone for the body, an engine for the car or the roots for the trees. None can function without the other. Thus, selecting and installing the correct hardware is like giving life to the otherwise lifeless fenestration element. You cannot imagine a Mercedes to function if there is no engine or a substandard engine, likewise, you cannot imagine a window to function if there is a lack of proper and suitable hardware.
How well aware do you think the decision-makers are in general about the availability of the hardware products for fenestration, their functionality & categories? And how do they gauge the effectivity of the same?
I would say the decision-makers getting more aware by the day. Nowadays most of the developers have a dedicated façade team that evaluates each and every façade/ fenestration element. Aided by the façade consultants and their expert advice, they make a fully informed decision based on the requirement at hand. Moreover, awareness is an ongoing process. Every day there is something new or something that has not been experienced before, in that case, we make ensure that they are presented with all the options that are available or can be considered.
For gauging effectivity, they demand the test be certificated or ask for mock-up tests to be carried out at a third-party laboratory which is usually project-specific. All in all, the decision-making process is now much more advanced than it was ever before thanks to rising awareness.
What is the emphasis laid on R&D, especially for the Indian market?
Our laboratory’s tireless quest for excellence means you always get the best. As mentioned before, R&D is one of the pillars SchlegelGiesse stands on. SchlegelGiesse laboratory is a powerhouse of ideas. This is the place where they take shape and become reality.
Created in 1995, it is a specialised structure that provides support for research-and-design activities and gives impetus to the development of new products. The SchlegelGiesse laboratory has a test facility that uses proprietary software to manage different testing and classification procedures in keeping with the most widely used international standards.
Our laboratory mainly engages in experimental work in order to find the best solutions for accessories and sealing systems during the product development phase. In order to provide our clients and partners with the best service possible, we also carry out official tests on windows and doors in compliance with EC regulations (EN 14351).
Once an expert assessment has been performed on a sample, we go on to run tests at our facilities in the presence of the Notified Body that subsequently issues the official report (ITT). We have a test area specially equipped with cutting-edge machinery where we perform operational and mechanical tests at regular intervals to assess the lifespan of hinges, handles, rails, tilt-and-turn windows, variable geometry arms and other systems in compliance with the strictest international technical standards. We also have a test chamber for salt-spray corrosion tests. Every SG product that has seen the market through the years, in India or anyplace else, has gone through the aforementioned process.
What do you see as the main challenges faced by the architectural hardware industry?
Challenges are faced by all industries and push one to innovate and excel. The same goes for the architectural hardware industry as well. We too face numerous challenges like the flooding of the market with substandard cheaper products, price sensitivity of the projects, etc. But nothing that can’t be overcome by creating more awareness, providing good quality products and best services. Buyers do realise that the nominal difference of the price paid for good quality hardware eliminates the need for repeated repairs and service and saves them the cost in the long run.
Tell us about your channel expansion strategies in the market.
We have a network of well-stocked distributors across all the regions – north, west, and south and a company-owned warehouse. Architectural hardware is more of a solution product than a commodity, so consulting selling is required. We have a sturdy team of well-versed sales and technical personnel who leave no stone unturned to help and support the customers. We expand our sales network through one-on-one interaction with the developers and consultants along with well-oiled distribution machinery.
What keeps your company ahead of its competitors in terms of services offered?
• Integrated portfolio of products
• Outstanding products & services – ranging from presale compatibility studies, complete backup during the performance test, mock-up fabrication and installation to after-sale service
• Well-maintained stocks so as to reduce the burden on façade contractors and enable reduced lead times We take responsibility for what we say and what we do, and being transparent in our operations along with all the things mentioned above, has helped us to have an edge over our compatriots.
How do you see the architectural hardware industry evolving over the next 5 years?
Exclusive SchlegelGiesse handles
The architectural hardware industry is a direct reflection of the real estate industry. Despite the current bump in the economy, the overall outlook remains positive. As long as the country is being built, we are there to play our part and supply the best quality hardware and accessories.
Sayed Anwar Ali, Giesse S.p.A.
Sayed Anwar Ali is the Country Manager, of Giesse S.p.A. and has been with the company since 2007. A management graduate, Anwar has a vast experience in the fenestration industry incremented by a relentless drive to strive for excellence through sheer grit and an endeavour to succeed by attention to detail. His customer-centric approach and leading by example, have led SchlegelGiesse to be one of the apex hardware companies in India and the region. SchlegelGiesse provides innovative and high-quality engineered components for the fenestration industry. The products are sold into residential and commercial applications all over the world under the SCHLEGEL brand for sealing solutions to aluminium, uPVC and timber applications, the GIESSE brand for hardware systems in aluminium doors and windows and the REGUITTI brand for doors and window handles.