APL Apollo: Steel-Tubing the Strongest Structural Foundation for the Global Infra

apl apollo
APL Apollo

Innovation is the only way to cope with the changing constant of time. Stagnant water evaporates to leave a muddy land where all the structures would collapse and get buried in the sands of time. This is where the structural strength of innately revolutionary leaders like APL Apollo comes to the rescue of people devoted to nation-building. And from a foundational network of robustly built nations, skyrockets humankind’s civilizational monument, standing tall, withering the seasonally shifting currents of weathering forces.

Established in 1986 by a visionary (Late) Sudesh Kumar Gupta, today, under the exemplary leadership of its Chairman, Mr Sanjay Gupta, APL Apollo has been steel-tubing the strongest structural foundation for the national and global infrastructure.

Innovation at APL Apollo is not a deliberate strategy. It is its inner strength which gets reflected in everything – its priorities, products, processes, and performance.

A Trustworthy Legacy

Redefining the landscape of construction in India for the last three-and-a-half-decade, APL Apollo is India’s largest producer of structural steel tubes with a capacity to produce 2.6Mn tonnes per annum. APL Apollo is India’s largest steel tube company, with 55% of the market share. According to the precise statistics, the company has grown from a 10000 tonnes annual capacity company to 2.6 million tones yearly capacity company in the last ten years. This growth has been backed by multiple USPs they created for their firm.

Number one is that they have the highest range of 1500 structural steel tube SKUs. The second USP is the distribution network, where they sell their products to 800 distributors pan India, which is further sold to 50000 retailers and 2 million fabricators down the value chain. The company has an extended distribution network of warehouses and branch offices in 29 cities across the country catering to domestic and 20 countries worldwide.

The third USP is that their plants are strategically located near the raw materials and end consumer market. So the delivery time is the minimum in the industry. “The fourth USP is our brand name in the structural steel tube sector, which we have built over the years. So the way forward for APL Apollo is to keep innovating and create a market for our new products,” reveals Sanjay.

Now they are looking forward to the new set of products 1000/1000 mm heavy structural steel tubes and colour-coated tubes about 1mm thickness. These products will help the company to penetrate deeper into the residential and industrial construction industry. These will also impact its revenue and profit margin positively. Sanjay believes that with an extremely strong local presence, and thanks to their philosophy of Make in India, extensive distribution network, and world-class quality, they are building up on their legacy of trust.

An Exemplary Epic of Innovation

For over three decades, APL Apollo has gone from strength to strength to lead the charge in revolutionizing the Structural Steel Tubes manufacturing industry; pioneering and persisting in its aspirations to provide sustainable alternatives to the industry – domestic and globally.

APL had its extraordinary saga in this industry. When APL entered into this industry, it was about round circular pipes. There were many large and established players with whom the company was competing with. It was a very small player in the market. “So, we thought about how to differentiate our position and started manufacturing square and rectangular tubes, which replaced the conventional products’ steel angle and channel and wooden structure and aluminum profiles, and that’s how we have created our niche,” informs Sanjay.

From featuring in many firsts to vigorously reforming technological processes, APL Apollo has proven its market acumen. Therefore, when PVC pipes came into the market, they disrupted the round and circular pipe market in a big way. The competitors had a significant impact, but it didn’t impact APL as much because it was already shifted from conventional round and circular tubes to square and rectangular tubes though the application was not for water transportation, it was structural steel tubes for the construction industry.

Awe-Inspiring Success Echelons

Sanjay’s inspiration has always been his father, He was in the business of trading of steel-related products. When his family migrated from Bihar to Delhi, his father established a manufacturing plant to produce steel tubes.

Sanjay was very young, even while studying, whenever he used to join his father in the business, he found it very exciting and interesting. He knew then for sure that this is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Carrying his father’s visionary dreams forward.

During 2000-02, the firm commissioned a new tube mill and a modern Gallium mill. The firm also received ISO 9001:2000 certification. 2007-08, was a time to move forward for a rock solid future, in its bid to invest in the future, the firm acquired Apollo Metalex Private Limited, got awarded Star Export House Status, and further acquired Shri Lakshmi Metal Udyog Limited in Bengaluru. Then expanding its presence by commencing multiple warehouses across India, in 2011-12, the firm acquired its novel brand identity as APL Apollo Tubes. Then setting the record in 2015, it became India’s first steel tube manufacturer to achieve a capacity of one MTPA in steel pipes.

According to Sanjay, five strengths reflect their brand’s offerings: “One is our SKU range, second is our distribution network. The third is our lion’s market share of 55% in our industry. The fourth is our influencer campaign which we do with our fabricators, and the fifth is the capacity that we have built over the last two to three years to come up with innovative products all the time.”

In the present (2021-22), expanding its horizon and adding another feather in its cap, APL Apollo commissioned the second state-of-the-art production plant in Raipur, Chhattisgarh – A 100% value-added products manufacturing unit, spread over 400 acres of land with over 1.4 MT annual production capacity.

Shaping the Future

Being an experienced leader, sharing his wise opinions on how adopting modern technologies like AI and ML impacts their industry and how they are adapting to the change, Sanjay explains that as they are growing, they are becoming a more and more data-oriented organization. “We have the last 35 years of data of our existence. So we will mine this data and use it for our revenue, profit, and company as we advance. We are implementing various web-based applications.”

He elaborates that presently; they have 11 plants and 55 mills running across India. These 55 mills produce 1500 SKUs sold to 800 distributors across the country. Each mill has its uniqueness in producing SKUs. Plants are largely located near the end market; it is always wise to be efficient in intelligent systems that can analyze which order can be punched in the relevant mill and, from there, easily reach the respective customers. It’s going to be a massive journey for APL Apollo to adopt these modern technologies, however, Sanjay and his team are excitingly working on it.

When probed about the current industry scenario and challenges that they had to overcome, Sanjay mentions, “The industry has been very competitive because there are hardly any entry barriers. Multiple small unorganized players compete in this respective market because they have the advantage of tax arbitrage second to the logistic cost since they are located at a single location as they serve a limited market.”

To overcome them, APL went on the track of innovation and market creation; the company segregated its portfolio into sections like value-added and commoditized. The value-added products contribute 70% to its revenue and the commodity products, contributing 30% to its revenue. The whole idea is to keep growing in the value-added market, where the competition is minimal, and for that, APL has a very strong innovative product line which it will keep expanding.

Transforming the Tomorrow

As an advice for the budding aspirants willing to venture into the niche, Sanjay expresses. “My advice would be to come out with out-of-the-box ideas and innovative product lines.” That’s the way to make a mark and make money. Otherwise, it’s a very competitive and commoditized industry, and difficult to compete with established players.

On envisioning and scaling its operations eventually, APL Apollo is coming up with multiple structural steel products which will be next-generation structural steel building solutions. APL’s Raipur Plant would be a showpiece for its tubular technology and heavy structural tubes as it would be India’s largest industrial complex whose superstructure comprises tubes. It only adds a watermark to our belief that there lies a vast opportunity for its heavy structural tubes.

Sanjay informs that they have planned mainly 2 products categories.

  • Colour Coated Tubes
  • Heavy Structural Tubes.

This new range of products can elevate the life of the buildings, construction, and final infrastructure by ten years. In the furniture industry, imported products are replaced by APL’s innovative products in the interior and exterior decor section.

A Testament to APL Apollo’s Monumental Legend

Sanjay expresses immense gratitude that customers have always been very kind to them. They have liked APL’s products and services for the last 35 years. Multiple agencies have recognized the brand and awarded it with business excellence. Thus, awards and accolades are part of the journey for APL Apollo- Tubes Limited. These include:

  • ABP BE Awards 2022
  • Construction World Annual Award 2021
  • Emerging Brand Award for 2019 from ABP news Brand Excellence Award
  • Top challengers Award
  • Times Power Icon for North Region 2019
  • India’s best company of the year award- 2017 received from International Brand Consulting Corporation

We have been awarded The Best Performer in Export by the Federation of Indian Export Organization (FIEO) and EEPC India,” concludes Sanjay.