December 3, 2023

When India was about to gain independence from the British Raj in 1946, BM Birla, a visionary leader, thought that the nation should also be independent in its commercial affairs.

Immediately following independence, public and private companies in India depended on bearings imported from other countries. The CK Birla Group led the revolution to “Make in India” and incorporated India’s first bearing manufacturing firm, NBC Bearings.

“At the time, self-reliance was encouraged. India did not manufacture bearings and imported them mainly from the US and UK. “It was Mr. Birla who thought it would be better to have the manufacturing and technology in India,” recalled Rohit Sboo. Rohit is also the CEO of NBC Bearings.

Saboo, a young and dynamic CEO, set out to establish NBC Bearings at a young age as the leading bearing manufacturer in India. Saboo’s leadership skills made the journey smooth and seamless. NBC Bearings became the largest distributor of automotive bearings in India.

Saboo, who has been with NBC Bearings for more than two decades, explained to Entrepreneur India the journey the company took from the development of the bearings industry in India up until now, being on the space odyssey together with India Space Research Organization.

From Indian Railways and ISRO

It is not an easy journey for anyone, but especially auto component manufacturers. CK Birla’s National Engineering Industries Ltd., which produces bearings under the NBC label, made this possible by partnering with the Indian Space Research Organisation in order to supply parts for rockets and shuttles.

Saboo said, “It is in our DNA to innovate and develop,” while highlighting its association with clients such as Indian Railways, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Hero Motorcorp, Maruti Suzuki, etc. Saboo responded to a question about how the company managed to get such large clients. “Whether it is Hero Motorcorp or Indian Railways, we always give our clients equal importance.” Our logo has a tagline that says flexible solution. It means that we listen to our clients and discuss their needs. We then deliver the product to them.

Saboo also added that customer satisfaction is what makes the company stand out in the market.

The company produces a wide range of products, from ball bearings to the latest generation bearings. NBC Bearings is currently present on five continents.

Transition Cycle from the 70s to 2018

NBC Bearings, which has spent decades in automotive manufacturing, has cemented a strong position on the market. The company’s years of experience have allowed it to understand how the market works and what the expectations and demands are for bearings. Saboo noted the dramatic changes he had witnessed in the industry during his tenure. “Before the year 1994, it was a sellers’ market.” The competition intensified when India gradually opened its economy to other players.

Saboo added, “There was much pressure on the pricing and other aspects because customers had so many choices.”

He replied, “We needed to improve the quality of our products and our response to the customers.”

Saboo said, “Since that time, we’ve become more customer-centric and quality-conscious as this is the only way to survive and be at the top of the industry.”

NEI began in 1946 with 30,000 bearings of 19 sizes. Today, the company produces over 100,000,000 bearings per year in more than 1,000 sizes. This is to satisfy a wide range of customers in India and 21 other countries.

“Technology has improved dramatically, whether it is wheel requirements or anything else. Saboo said, “I remember when we used to manufacture a bearing within 90 days using advanced technologies. We used to take 200-250 working days to develop it.

The company is currently manufacturing bearings for electric vehicles, a trend that is still emerging in the automotive sector.

Digitization: A path to globalization

Saboo said that Saboo’s goal for the next five-year period is to double the company’s revenue. Saboo noted that the company is in the process of marking its entry into the digital space.

Saboo, when asked about how Indian MSMEs can become globalized, said that digitization was the way to do so.

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