Story: Ahva D’Souzaa | 28th July 2012, 12:00 Hrs
Goan battery company exports to Russian and Turkey Technology breakthroughs ensure lower prices
n 1975 a young Dr Raghunath Shirodkar quit his job in Germany and returned to Goa with the intention of doing something for his land. His experience in R&D in batteries stood him in good stead as he set up Germania batteries with his younger brother Satish P Shirodkar.
The company initially made only battery plates and supplied them to Bajaj Auto. Satish Shirodkar said, “We did this for 14 years. Despite having a large market share it was not very profitable. We then decided to branch out.” They shifted their focus from manufacturing plates to batteries. Not many people are aware that it was Dr Shirodkar who suggested reduction in the content of antimonial alloy from the existing 5% to 1.8% in battery plates which helped reduce the price of batteries in India by a third. “This was possible by introducing new technology” said Satish.
“Despite being in the business for a while, the market share of Germania was stagnant. I knew it was time to change,” said Satish. With enquiries coming in from Germany, it was natural for the Shirodkar’s to begin exporting. After Europe the Shirodkar’s moved into Russia and Turkey. Now, the overseas market contributes over 50 per cent of their total turnover.
The Shirodkars also set up another factory in Kundaim---United Lead Oxide. This factory produces industrial batteries. Their major client is the Indian Railways. On an average their factories produce between 5,000- 7,000 industrial batteries and automotive batteries every month.
With the future of the battery industry bright Satish is working towards a public offering on the share market. He said, “I am working towards it and it should happen in a few years”.
The company has grown from an initial turnover of Rs 4,80,000 to Rs 25 crores. With new products scheduled to be launched, the management expect a 50% increase in turnover. Shirodkar said, “Batteries are the future. They provide us with a mobile source of power that makes many modern conveniences possible.”