For Kent, purity remains the core of business strategy and that’s what has been strongly highlighted by Founder & Chairman, Kent RO Systems Ltd, Dr Mahesh Gupta. “For Kent, innovating health care products is more than just a business, it is our passion and the very purpose of our existence. Our patented Mineral RO TM Technology has been the biggest breakthrough for us. With this, Kent RO water purifiers retain essential natural minerals in purified water using the TDS controller, thereby providing 100% safe and tasty drinking water,” he proudly reiterates during an interaction…
You have been credited for revolutionizing the water purification industry in India. How was the scenario back then and what made you take this big business step?
It was late 90s when Kent started its voyage and there was no industry that existed in India by the name of water purifiers. A handful of players were trying their fate in this sector by selling very conventional purifiers through door to door marketing. Who would have thought that in couple of years, Indian water purifier industry will become one of the most lucrative sectors for national and international brands and is over Rs3500 crore.
The journey of Indian water purifier industry started when we first introduced the concept of a Mineral RO water purifier. It was an audacious move for me as I left a well-paid job to start making water purifiers. As of today, people in the country have easy access to RO water purifiers equipped with multiple purification techniques. Kent basically designed RO water purifier with combination of three technologies to make it suitable for treating every type of water irrespective of source.
From then to now, how has been the transformation? Where do you position yourself?
The transformation has been in terms of technology and new product range. Kent is working from day one on a mission ‘Drink Pure, Eat Pure and Breathe Pure’. Hence, each and every product of Kent RO is designed and sold to fulfil these 3 objectives. A seed sown 20 years ago has shaped up as a giant tree. As the market leader in this segment, the onus lies with us to further take this industry to next level where pure drinking water is made affordable and accessible to each and every nook and corner of India.
We are also into air purifiers, cold press juicer, vacuum / bed cleaners, vegetable purifiers. The company has recently forayed into small kitchen appliance segment with a whole new innovative range of products. This includes noodle & pasta makers, dosa maker, pizza & omelette maker, turbo blenders, rice cookers, atta & bread Maker and many more. Another revolutionary product by Kent is a low-cost water purifier Kent Gold AS which is capable of removing arsenic from water. Arsenic is the most harmful poison dissolved in the water and a route cause of cancer. So far only RO purifiers were able to remove dissolved arsenic from water, but with Kent Gold AS, which costs just Rs3500 is capable of removing this dissolved poison from drinking water. We are positioned as India’s leading water purifier company.
We are keen to know your entrepreneurial journey. Please share some of the intriguing learnings gained.
Well, I am an IITian and I invented an RO purifier, which was equipped to remove the dissolved impurities in the water. I designed first RO purifier for my own usage as I didn’t find a water purifier in the market in those days. Both my children were suffering from jaundice and the culprit was drinking water. The stuff available in the market left me unimpressed. Being an IITian, I decided to invent my own water purifier. After several trials and six months of hard work, I zeroed in on a technology-reverse osmosis (RO), which promised the results I wanted, and the first Kent purifier was born in March 1999. Recognizing its potential, and in order to promote a healthy and happy life for other families, I decided to market this invention. So, my experience has arisen due to my needs which I felt there was a lag in the country. It was bound to do well as this was a much-needed product and technology. So instead of the rat race I believe we should follow our passion and work toward something that benefits all. And you are sure to be hit!
How has been the journey so far?
The journey was not a cake walk for me as the product I had made was something totally new for Indian audience to accept. However, I didn’t give up as I was pretty sure if this works for me as an Indian common man so as it will be for the millions of households who are deprived of pure drinking water. Starting the journey from a small garage, now Kent is enjoying the leadership position in the market.
Kindly highlight some of the most striking USPs of your manufacturing plant in Roorkee.
Kent RO Systems Ltd. has an integrated manufacturing facility in Roorkee, Uttarakhand. The Roorkee facility is probably the largest water purifier manufacturing facility India with 1,00,000 sqft plant. Currently the manufacturing capacity of the company is 5 lakh pieces per year. Another state-of-the-art manufacturing plant is coming up in Noida with an investment of Rs100 crore. The processes are highly standardized and benchmarked to the best in the world. Stringent quality assurance measures are adopted, and effective cost management systems have been devised. At the back-end, Kent forges strong partnerships with vendors for quality compliance.
How crucial role does supply chain play in your business?
It plays a crucial role as we have a pan-India presence and not to miss the international footprints. The company exports products to Latin America, African Countries, Sri Lanka, and has recently entered GCC market. There is immense demand for our product both within the country and outside. With an effective supply chain, we are able to meet this demand. As the e-commerce market is evolving, the supply chain is assuming a crucial role.
Kent has a strong foothold in the Indian market today with a wide network with over 1500 distributors, 10000 dealers and over 500 direct marketing franchises. The deep penetration of marketing network is supplemented by a service support network of 800 service centres and a force of centrally trained service technicians who provide reliable after sales service.
How do you keep pace with the growing competition and how does the partner network play a critical role in the same?
The competition motivates us to do things in a meticulous way. Our biggest strength is our own manufacturing; we are not affected with the imports. Today we have one of the largest network of dealers and distributors, which is the backbone of the company.
Please tell is about your after sales service….
Kent has its own aftersales network backed by 24X7 call centre, we can attend any compliant in less than 24 hours which itself a big achievement for us. Also, we have constant training and knowledge upgradation sessions to keep the staff on the same page.
We have also been the first ones in the market to introduce a one-year warranty plus three years of free service. The four-year warranty on Kent RO is a step to tackle and encounter the current issue of fake parts. This will help create awareness among the customers to not get the servicing done from local service providers and go with fake parts for a small amount as it totally deteriorates the quality of both the machine and the purified water. The four-year free service will also help us gain customers’ confidence as they will not switch to local and unreliable servicing alternatives as the consumer will have access to free quality and professional service and genuine spares. Also, the life of the RO Purifier will be enhanced besides ensuring 100 per cent satisfaction and peace of mind to consumer.
What’s your strategy to capitalize on the burgeoning growth?
Every brand speaks highly of itself, but trust develops when an accredited certification body endorses the product/brand. In the case of water purification industry, laboratories of international repute, like NSF, WQA and more recently ISI, have certified our products for its quality and efficacy.
Having said that, we plan our products which give benefit of health and which are nonexistent. We don’t want to go into competitive space as we are not here to say ‘Me Too’ products. Somebody else is manufacturing the same product and introducing the replica is not our chemistry. We will continue to research and come up with unique products. What differentiates us as the top brand is our focus on innovation and technology. We have not come with appliances, which are commonly architectured by the manufacturer. Our appliances are totally innovative and different. None of our product is competing with anyone except rice cookers. We have aesthetic and technical differentiation and unbeatable quality. For instance, Cold Pressed Juicers are not conventional Juicers. These are the juicers, which use technology that first crushes and then presses the fruits and vegetables for maximum yield. The juice extraction technique works on low RMP, speed less than 100 and so it does not produce as much heat as produced by conventional juicers. Hence, it retains nutrients and fibers and gives more juice.
What are the technological breakthroughs being achieved by you?
Our patented Mineral ROTM Technology has been the biggest breakthrough for us. With this, Kent RO water purifiers retain essential natural minerals in purified water using the TDS controller, thereby providing 100% safe and tasty drinking water. It also utilizes double purification for 100% pure water. The advanced technology removes dissolved impurities, retains essential minerals and boasts of multiple purification techniques combining RO, UV, UF and TDS control to make water 100% pure. Besides, Kent RO’s revolutionary Save Water Technology™ offers best water recovery rate of more than 50% and the reject water percentage is reduced to less than 50% and the wasted water is stored in a separate tank.
Kent has also launched 3rd generation RO water purifier christened as Kent Grand Star and Kent Prime Plus, shaped up as a digitally controlled RO water purifier, which gives you real time information of how impure drinking water is. This Smart RO purifier keeps users updated about the machine’s performance, the quality of water, filter change alarm and many other digital and helpful features. Soon, this product will have IoT connectivity, which means you will be able to connect it through WiFi and will be able to access the whole performance data on your smartphones.
How do you view entrepreneurs of today? What do you think is lacking and what are the qualities that others can imbibe from them?
Delivering right technology at the right price is the key. What most entrepreneurs of today do or rather where they fail is the fact that although they are offering a good product, their pricing structure is the major drawback. They price it very high because of which they lose out on the mass market. Now-a-days ‘Make in India’ is taking a front seat and many entrepreneurs are working on this model. I too am not in favour of importing products as India is a luring market and we locals should take the benefit instead of giving foreign brands the advantage. Also manufacturing locally will boost the functionality of the products as they can tailor the international design to suit the Indian market.
Kindly enlighten us on the experience centres built by you.
With our experience centres, customers can experience the innovative products. It will be a chain of 10 experience centres, which will be on franchisee model. The company at present has opened 3 stores, one in DLF Mall of India, V3 Mall and another in Lajpat Nagar Market.
How do you view Indian economy five years down the line?
Indian economy is one of the robust economies in the world and is flourishing rapidly. Today the entire universe is looking upon us as we have emerged as the largest market for global players. We feel the economy will further surpass the estimates keeping in mind the stability of performance of domestic sector.
What are your plans in the future?
We are planning to double exports in the next two years. Currently we export products to Latin America, Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Nepal and recently entered GCC Market. Apart from that, we are constantly innovating our current product line. Earlier we used to have selected 5-6 models of water purifiers and today we have over 50 products in our portfolio. We are not introducing any new product just for the sake of adding the number. Each of the products introduced by Kent RO is unique and innovative and has purity quotient. Even if you take our newly launched Smart chef appliances range, the products are designed keeping in mind the requirement of modern kitchen while without compromising on the health, i.e.., our cold press juicer is designed to keep the nutrients alive in the juice. Our bread maker can make homemade hygienic whole wheat bread. In a nutshell, my wishes are just to provide pure air, pure water and pure vegetable to public so that they stay away from diseases.