There’s a quote that often does the rounds on social media: “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.”
Who said it and why is lost in the mists of pop culture platitudes, but what is certain is that for Manish Garg, the exact opposite has proved to be true.
For when he began a new role as CEO in 2021, it was with Interarch Building Products, the very company where Garg had first begun his professional journey.
At the time, the business was going through a critical phase. The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns had weakened the market, and revenues were running low. This was not going to be an easy ride.
“My first challenge was to put the business back on track. We recalibrated all our internal functions from supply chain to delivery. As a civil engineer, I adjusted a few levers to bring in value engineering to our design and build environment,” he says.
“We brought our internal efficiency to a completely different level, be it in reducing wastage, in manufacturing and installations. We introduced an upgraded vendor management system where we could fetch better terms and prices from our suppliers. Our buying is now much better, and so is our project execution.”
Once Garg was confident that the efficiency of the company’s internal operations was in hand, Interarch Building Products moved on to focus on its customers.
“We used to concentrate on ensuring the satisfaction of every customer,” Garg recalls. “That’s not enough now. We decided that rather than stopping at customer satisfaction, we’d go for customer delight.”
This led to a wonderful transition, which was given the name ‘Interarch 2.0’ within the company.
“Interarch 2.0 was basically formed as a transformational journey in terms of the mindset of all team members. We decided, no matter what, we should create a ‘wow!’ aspect in the minds of our customers in every element of their interaction with us,” Garg explains.
“Every single person, no matter their role, was to be looking at better and more efficient ways of doing their work while keeping the customer at the center of everything they did. That worked, and within months, we started seeing a change. Of course, the external environment did help as well.”
Setting a goal is one thing, but only by measuring its achievements can the company see where it’s improving – and where it needs to make further amendments.
“We have an institutionalized system to measure customer satisfaction,” Garg adds. “For every project that we deliver, we measure end-to-end, from the first time that the customer reached out, to the completion certificate, of how their experience has been.”
This quantifier is just one of the new ideas Garg has introduced since taking on the top role at Interarch Building Products. But this innovation comes down to taking a unique journey to reach CEO. After joining the company as a frontline salesperson in 1994, he left the company in 2007, spending the next 14 years exploring roles in other organizations in the field. He also took time to complete a graduate program at Harvard Business School.
But returning to Interarch Building Products was a relief for Garg, as well as for promoters of the company.
“Interarch is a homegrown company. The promoters felt that they needed someone who knew the DNA of Interarch at the helm of the company,” Garg notes.
“It was a great opportunity to get back to the company, this time as the CEO. More interesting and intriguing was taking the company to the next level because Interarch had now decided to grow at a much more rapid pace than in the last 40 years.”
Over those 40 years, Interarch Building Products has steadily grown from its origins as a supplier of high-end metal interior products to being a pioneer in pre-engineered steel construction solutions. Garg believes that a large part of this success is due to the people.
“No other company would have as many engaged people as Interarch Building Products,” he states. “The company is about 40 years old, and we have employees who have spent close to those many years in the company.”
The attachment is mutual, according to Garg. Just as employees get attached to the company, Interarch Building Products also believes in providing the best working environment for its staff. “Interarch gives people a lot of opportunities and empowerment,” he says. “People who joined as juniors are heads of departments now. That is the DNA of Interarch – we help ordinary people do extraordinary things.”
This allows Interarch Building Products to deliver consistent results, which also puts them ahead in the industry.
“In our business, we deal with a lot of uncertainties of weather, environmental conditions and economics,” Garg acknowledges. “Despite that, we have 60 percent of our customers coming back because they want Interarch to build their next project.”
But delivering excellent results is only possible with the highest quality raw materials and engineering. “We deploy the best brains in the country in engineering, and these people keep researching for better ways to design, more efficient ways to engineer, and innovation in design,” Garg notes.
“And we only use the top three brands in the country or globally. Whether it is a paint or an electrode, it would be from the top three brands. We don’t try to maximize profit by settling for anything less than the top three.”
Garg also points out the role of suppliers, who have been with the company for decades, in shaping the success of Interarch Building Products. Companies like JSW Steel, Tata BlueScope Steel and Asian Paints have partnered exceptionally with Interarch Building Products to provide the best building solutions.
“These suppliers and others, like our logistics partners and our builders, complete us, like a LEGO set,” Garg says with a smile.
As Interarch Building Products looks to expand, its growth strategy includes a global initiative to bring in clients from all countries. Such plans bring both opportunities and challenges.
“When you take your company globally, you are competing with other global companies and different geographies,” Garg explains. “The recipe may not be the same as we have here. The challenge is to create a recipe that would work globally.”
He believes the solution is to steadfastly uphold the company’s commitment to customer delight.
“We must keep innovating for customer delight,” Garg concludes. “There is nothing that can keep your business growing and thriving like your customers.”