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Maxim Specialty Chemicals Pvt. Ltd.: On the Road to Innovation and Cost-effectiveness

MaximFounded in January 2010, Maxim Specialty Chemicals Private Limited offers a wide range of paper process and water treatment chemicals to paper mills in India, South East Asia and Middle East markets.

Maxim strives to provide its customers with cost-effective solutions and believes in staying ahead of the competition by developing new products and delivering services based on the needs of its customers and market demand.

The company offers products and solutions such as paper chemicals, deinking chemicals, pulping chemicals, paper enzymes, tissue chemicals and water management solutions.

The Paper Mart team (PMT) recently interviewed

Mr. Sanjeev Jain, Managing Director, Maxim Specialty Chemicals Pvt. Ltd., to gain an understanding of the factors that have contributed to the enormous success of the company.

Some excerpts from this interaction are given below.

PMT: Maxim was founded in January 2010. What was the idea behind setting it up?

Sanjeev Jain: After working for Nalco, a US-based paper chemical MNC, for about 14 years in India and Singapore in various sales and marketing positions, I wanted to do something more exciting and challenging. Also, I always had this dream of setting up my own company and producing innovative and customised products to help the paper industry in meaningful ways. In fact, after the recession that hit paper industry in 2008 – something that affected the industry’s top and bottom lines – I thought that it would be prudent to focus on products that are not only innovative but also cost-effective. Such products were the need of the hour… . So, such were the dreams, ideas and thoughts that led me to set up Maxim in January 2010. The company’s offices, which were set up in India and Singapore, focused on markets in India and SEA. Maxim’s goal is to become a “one-stop supplier” to paper mills – a company that provides paper mills with specialty chemicals and cost-effective solutions.

PMT: Maxim delivers what you refer to as “cost effective solutions”. What does this punch line mean?

SJ: As I mentioned earlier, in 2008, paper industry, like many other industries, started feeling the heat of the global economic slowdown, which continues to have an impact on the industry as a whole. This slowdown posed many difficult challenges for the industry, such as lower sales volume and higher operational cost – and all that affected the industry’s profitability to a great extent. In fact, many paper mills have started looking for ways of reducing their cost in all possible areas. For many companies it’s not a question of cost-optimisation any more but a matter of survival. So we thought of coming up with cost-effective solutions to help paper mills in reducing their variable cost to lower their overall operational cost.

Our success rests on the cost-effectiveness of our products. We deliver cost-effective and value-added products to keep our customers fully satisfied. For example, we recently started developing customised chemicals and programmes for the ETP side of paper mills – this was not our focus area until recently. With environmental standards becoming more and more stringent, this area has become one of the key areas for many mills. So, we started working with paper mills to help them recover the fibres through ETP Save-all, which otherwise would have gone as waste, to increase their overall yield and reduce BOD and COD in the process. These value-added approaches to enhancing customer satisfaction have helped Maxim to establish itself on Indian and overseas markets with 50-plus customer base – and that happened in just four years.

PMT: Do you have a plan for future corporate growth? Do you have a specific strategy for implementing this plan?

SJ: Maxim has been growing at a healthy average rate of 15 per cent on a YOY basis. But like all startups, we have had our share of operational and financial difficulties. In the last one year, we have seen quite a significant devaluation of the Indian rupee – almost 20 per cent – which has had a direct impact on the cost of imported raw materials. This shocking devaluation affected our profitability to a great extent. As we couldn’t do much on the currency front for obvious reasons, we started looking at the alternative option of manufacturing most of our products in India to reduce our COP. In fact, we have already initiated discussions with some of our overseas technology partners in this regard. Our main objective is to keep our COP as low as possible to be able to compete while delivering value and quality products to our customers.

We will continue to focus on the market in India, as the country’s GDP growth rate is still averaging 6 per cent despite the dismal economic scenario – something not seen in many other countries in the Asia Pacific region. Also, Indian paper mills have brighter prospects with 10m tons of existing production, which is expected to reach the 20m-ton mark by 2020. So, we will continue to focus & invest in India.

We are currently tolling and blending most of our products. But in next one to two years, we plan to have a complete manufacturing base somewhere near Delhi NCR to be able to meet customer requirements in north, west and central India, where we have a large customer base, to help us to continue to provide our customers with cost-effective chemicals and solutions. As for South India, we are well on our way to appointing C&F agents in Hyderabad and Chennai. We have recently increased our sales force in the northern and western regions and plan to hire some more salespersons for the southern and eastern regions to become a supplier with a pan-India presence.

We are also planning to be active in markets in Vietnam and Indonesia this year, as our current export is limited mostly to the Middle East, Thailand and Malaysia. So, we will be participating in the paper shows to be held in Vietnam in May 2014 and in Indonesia in December 2014 to expand our export base after exploring business opportunities on those markets.

PMT: How is Maxim different from the other players in the industry?

SJ: Maxim has the unique distinction of being a high-quality product supplier with dedicated onsite services but with cost-effective pricing. So we are committed to deliver cost-effective solutions by helping our customers to increase their productivity or reduce their existing chemical cost, or both, through our innovative chemicals. We will continue to hire quality people in our company to be able to deliver on our commitments along those lines. We have a clear vision of what we want to achieve. Our company’s vision is “to become the most valuable company to paper mills by providing ‘Cost-effective Solutions’ through customized approach, quality product and onsite service.”

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