Many would-be exporters must have envied industrial valves manufacturer, supplier and exporter Gunric Valves for the speed with which it gained acceptance in the world market when it entered it in 1995, offering its own home-grown version of a triple eccentric metal-seated butterfly valve, says joint MD Gunter Schmikal.
He tells Engineering News that, together with his management colleagues, he had no doubts about what to others may have seemed like a bold step when Gunric Valves first decided to enter the global market.
The company had, by then, already achieved remarkable success with the selfsame valve in improving efficiencies and reducing costs, compared with the gate valves that were the standard solution in the local mining and water industries until Gunric offered its product as a more viable alternative.
Schmikal and his colleagues were sure they would achieve similar success in the oil and gas industry abroad and, within a short time, they were proven right.
“The fact that we were successful doesn’t mean that it was easy,” Schmikal emphasises. “We took great care about how we went about it and were especially cautious about choosing the right distribution agents in the various countries we targeted.”
Though Gunric Valves was competing against other – and much larger – manufacturers of triple eccentric metal-seated butterfly valves, in its product the company had a unique selling point in that it offered a replaceable metal seal and seat combination in kit form. “This has a great advantage over the usual fixed seat, which forms part of the valve and cannot be removed and replaced. If it is damaged, the valve has to be repaired by being remachined – an expensive and time- consuming operation, compared with our solution,“ Schmikal explains.
“This proved to be a decisive advantage and was chiefly responsible for our almost meteoric rise from being a virtually unknown company to one of the frontrunners as a supplier of metal-seated valves into the global market. The other important factor that worked in our favour was our willingness to customise the product to best suit specific applications.”
The company’s first sale came from a Germany-based company for a specialised valve for an oil refinery in Mexico. Its next large order came from Thailand for a water application and then the company secured a variety of other sales from Australia for mining, oil and gas, and power generation applications.
Further orders from companies involved in large projects in various countries, mostly in the oil and gas industry, followed and, by 2000, the company’s export sales accounted for about 25% of its turnover.
Its overseas sales continued to rise as its name and reputation spread. From 2000 onwards, its exports rose year by year, peaking at 60% of turnover in 2008, but at the end of that year, they began falling off steeply as the world recession took hold and many major projects were shelved.
Between 2000 and 2008, the company gained entry into the Indian and Brazilian oil and gas markets, as well as those in Kazakhstan and the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, Oman and Abu-Dhabi, which became its biggest export customers.
Among other geographical areas and countries it sold into during its successful export phase were South and Central America, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Italy and the UK.