The dynamic Golam Murshed, Managing Director of Walton Hi-Tech Industries Ltd. shares his insight into the electronics manufacturing market and the company’s ambition and vision to become global market leaders.
Air conditioning (AC) systems and fan sales have increased to almost 30% this heat – with Walton controlling over 60% of the electronic household product market, how did this boost in demand play out for the company?
As you know global warming is increasing day by day creating a sharp rise in temperatures. We are experiencing one of the warmest summers this time. Our main product for this season has been air conditioners and fans. This year we formulated a perfect plan compared to the one we had in place last year which helped us to meet the demand targets as soon as we received the weather forecasts that this year might be the hottest summer in the last 10-20 years. After we received the forecast we ensured that we had an ample amount of raw products to meet the demands of the market. This is how we have been able to facilitate the market demand for both air conditioners and electrical fans. We have a good in-house supply chain team, and they devised a tremendous and versatile plan to meet the country’s demands. Their dedication also helped us rise to the challenges created by COVID-19.
Walton is now eyeing the global market, starting with the United States – can you tell us how the US market is vital to establishing Bangladesh as the home of one of the top electronic global brands?
Walton is focusing on country branding, and that is the main thought process behind making Walton a global brand. If Walton goes to the U.S. and to Europe and to other countries around the global market then Walton will lead with the tag “Made in Bangladesh” and Bangladesh would be given the title of being one of the electronics manufacturing hubs in the world. We aim to be the biggest global leader as electronic manufacturers. We have the ability, potential and facilities to make this happen. The government is also extending a helping hand to the electronic market by making industrial-friendly policies in our recent budget. We have to cease these opportunities and make proper use of the support to propel Bangladesh into an electronics manufacturing hub.
What is the difference between the U.S. market and the other markets Walton operates in?
Next month I will be going to the U.S. to verify the market strategy and the internal marketing scenario. After compiling all the data, I will be able to better understand the ongoing and operations of the U.S. market compared to other markets in the world. It is confirmed that we will be entering the U.S. market and Walton will lead the electronics market for Bangladesh.
With Walton having decided to open either branches or liaison offices in India, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea – were there any supply-chain challenges in these countries?
Our supply-chain team is in-house. They are a tremendous team and they are capable of managing operations throughout the world. They ensure a streamline supply of raw materials from abroad, and have mastered providing goods from Bangladesh to the respective international markets. Walton has established an efficient supply chain team.
Recently Walton has acquired the services of ex-Samsung CTO. What will his role be?
We are a technology based industry. In order to be innovative, creative and to meet the demands of the current situation, some expert guidance is required. Therefore, we have to have the humility to recognize the current leaders of the industry and try to hire their talent and knowledge pool to better position ourselves to pursue Walton’s vision of becoming a global leader. Currently our new Chief Technical Officer is planning the next ten years of research & development and market expansion. It’s been a great decision and it has really improved our quality department and enhanced our R&D department in the last two years. He is going to be an asset to our 10-year development plan.
Walton has added a new state-of-the art production line to the existing one of its washing machine manufacturing factory. What sets Walton apart as a consumer goods producer from other players in the market?
For white goods industry, washing machines are the second largest product in terms of quantity and revenue – refrigerators being the first. Accordingly, Walton has plans to focus on the washing machine and we have been devising this plan for the last two or three years. How can we make sure it has the perfect quality, the perfection of this product, the modern technology, the innovation with this product? Recently we have launched a new manufacturing line as Walton believes in establishing a fully vertically integrated manufacturing plant in Bangladesh. We started our washing machine manufacturing plant and in two years we aim to make Walton a global leader in washing machines.
A decade ago when people used to buy expensive electronic products they used to purchase imported products. Walton has changed that. Due to the economic growth of our country, more and more people are demanding high value products. How do you see this change and how is Walton meeting the demands for high quality electronic products?
A decade ago the scenario was 90% import based products saturating the market, while manufacturing and plant-based products was only 10%. However, in just ten years the situation has completely reversed with manufactured products making up 90% with imported products making up the rest 10%. There are a few benefits of this reversal which is when a country imports these products it loses money in terms of foreign currency going to those brands and countries directly. After introducing this industry in Bangladesh and after the establishment of Walton manufacturing plants, it allowed us to retain foreign currency from leaving the country. Secondly, this allowed us to generate employment for a workforce of 20,000 people. It has allowed us to retain foreign currency while creating employment for the workforce here.
In doing this we were able to manufacture premium products which are within the buying range of our consumers, instead of the overly priced products being imported a decade ago.
Walton is one of the biggest employers in the country and electronics manufacturing required skilled-labor. Are you content with the supply of labor in the country?
The changes that have been taking place in the last ten to twenty years can only be credited to the efforts of our citizens. It’s our pride that Walton is made by the people of our country. All of the family members at Walton are change makers, and they are constantly striving to change from one phase to another. They are working dedicatedly for our country and it is our pride to be able to say that.
Lastly, can you share the roadmap Walton has to establish itself as one of top five global electronics giants within 2030?
We have plans in terms of revenue. You can see those white goods manufacturing plants are doing well and they are the global leaders. We have taken the data of their revenues and in terms of revenue we would like to be in the 7th or 8th position by 2025. By 2030 we would like to secure the 2nd or 3rd position, but this is also dependent on geo-political issues. We are inspired by global players. Walton has played in the local zone and it is time for us to venture out and forge our path in the global landscape. Currently we have a 40-country export market but the volume isn’t sufficient to propel us to the heights of being a global leader. We would like to take Walton to 193 countries in the next ten years and ensure that Bangladesh’s footprint can leave its mark on a global scale.