Symphony: The 'Coolest' Global Leader

Symphony: The 'Coolest' Global Leader

Achal Bakeri, Founder, Chairman & MD,Vijay Joshi, CEO (India)

Achal Bakeri, Founder, Chairman & MD

Vijay Joshi, CEO (India)

The anecdote of Symphony Limited, the pioneers of air-cooler, is an inspiring business case study depicting the importance of focus, the value of perseverance, and the upshot of never throwing in the towel. The firm, which was incepted as early as 1988 by Achal Bakeri (Chairman & MD) and produced some of the ‘coolest’ innovations of the century, ironically stalled from its cruising altitude in the late 90s. But by regaining focus and with perseverance on his mission, Achal pulled Symphony from the rubble of bankruptcy and rebuilt it into the world’s largest air-cooler manufacturing company.

After three decades and hefty tests of time, Symphony (NSE: SYMPHONY with a market cap of Rs.93.708 billion) today exports to more than 60 countries, thanks to its robust manufacturing facilities that span across five different countries: Australia, China, India, Mexico & the U.S. The company over the last decade has manifested an astonishing growth trajectory, acquiring reputed air-cooler manufacturers across the geographies like Mexico, China & Australia, and in turn conquering significant shares of the market.

With soaring changes in climate, limitations of Air Conditioners (AC), and Influence of the dynamic technology realm, the air-cooler industry the world over is anticipated to grow multifold in the next six years. Symphony is right on top of both household and industrial air-cooler segments under the aegis of Achal. He takes immense pride in the leadership team that he built over the years. CEO Insights interacts with Vijay Joshi (CEO – India) to further unfurl the story of Symphony’s exciting journey, unique propositions, and futuristic innovations.
Symphony had an enthralling journey over the past three decades. How did the challenges and triumph afterwards look from the inside?
It’s always an inspiring factor. Our philosophy is wholly based on innovation, and ever since the inception, we have been at its zenith. We launched the world’s first plastic air-cooler. It was the late 90s when we thought of going deep into the Indian market with a diversified product portfolio. Our R&D has always been an oiled engine and it produced the world’s first plastic-made water heater(with PUF insulation) & washing machine (except the motor). But the moment we took our leg off the accelerator in the air-cooler market, we were thrown into a phase of deterioration, which ended up in the hands of government’s Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR).

"The cutting-edge innovations around evolving consumer lifestyles has always been a key priority, which is why we have introduced more than 30 new models in the last five years"

It’s from there Achal painstakingly began rebuilding Symphony’s position in the air-cooler market, discarding all the products other than air-cooler. We transformed into a one-product (air-cooler), many-market strategy. Our innovative muscles started flexing again. And it paid off, as our export business picked up.

Over the last decade, Symphony completed three acquisitions. Is this a partof your market conqueringstrategy?
Yes it is. We have been riding along an exceptional growth curve; acquiring Mexico-based IMPCo (founded by Adam Goettl, the inventor of air coolers) in 2008, China-based Keruilai in 2016, and Australia based Climate Technologies in 2018. All these acquisitions were unique keys to the respective markets. Moreover, it helped the company to launch into the industrial cooler segment as well.

The market is becoming increasingly dynamic with respect to anything from influence of technologies to the dire need for cost & power-effectiveness. How do you shape yourR&D unitto match these trends?
The fixed strategies and stereotypes of working have no role in the market’s new-age dynamics.
Irrespective of the outer conditions, we are agile and flexible enough to maneuver your strategies and thought process. The cutting-edge innovations around evolving consumer lifestyles has always been a key priority, which is why we have introduced more than 30 new models in the last five years. One of our latest innovations is centered on the most sophisticated gesture control, which is quite unprecedented in the air-cooler realm.

On the other hand, going green is embedded in our vision. Customers across the world have long realized the importance of less power consumption and optimum performance. Thus, our innovations never deviate from these basic needs, not to mention the fine balance of the air delivery & less noise. In design language, we are the ones who introduced the Dietformat(high on demand), alongside other models like High-Cool and Winter formats.

Air-cooler industry is here to stay. What are the strategies to make the most out of the opportunities upfront?
We feel that we have only touched the tip of the iceberg, as the opportunities are colossal. In the near future, we plan to expand a lot into the industrial cooling, wherein a huge market remains untapped. However, our R&D and the kind of innovations that it comes up with will be our trump card yet again. In terms of growth strategies, we constantly look forward to both organic and inorganic growth models.

Key Management:
Achal Bakeri, Founder,
Chairman & MD

A leader with a design thinking approach, Achal has 32 years of experience in varied fields, including construction, exports, manufacturing and design development.

Vijay Joshi, CEO (India)
During his overall 21 years at Symphony, Vijay has headed production, quality, product development & supply chain divisions. The former COO of the company, he was elevated as Chief Executive Officer – India in 2018.

India(Ahmedabad-Headquarter) Australia, U.S., China & Mexico


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