Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Tailored, innovative solutions with focus on energy use reduction

Adopting IoT and SAAS like never before, it is an exciting time to be part of the HVAC industry

Published: Dec 21, 2020 10:52:57 AM IST
Updated: Dec 30, 2020 04:18:10 PM IST

Tailored, innovative solutions with focus on energy use reduction
KNND Associates Private Limited offers a range of HVAC solutions having directed business units including Residential Systems, Commercial Systems, Contracting Solutions, HVAC Fit-out Solutions, Energy & Retrofit Solutions and Aftermarket support. KNND Associates was founded in the year 1996, by 5 bright minds, with a vision to offer high quality engineering-based HVAC contracting solutions. The company later restructured as a Private Limited Company in the year 2000. For over 2 decades, KNND has led the way in HVAC quality & innovation. With heating & cooling systems destined to become smarter, KNND remains on the cutting edge of technology, applying the newest innovations to create more sustainable solutions.

KNND has enhanced its ability to offer tailored, innovative solutions using the latest technologies with a clear & concise focus on Energy use reduction. KNND has a manufacturing arm called CAM DUCT located in the industrial belt on the outskirts of Bangalore specializing in manufacturing of Air Distribution products. KNND contributes to about 60% in volumes for Camduct and was established more like a backward integration as its go to market strategy for HVAC fit-out solutions. CAM DUCT also caters to the open market and is a fairly well-known brand in the region. KNND directors have 60% stake in Air Distribution products company by name Ventura based out of Free Trade Zone in Dubai. KNND has executed projects overseas in Antigua, Malaysia and the middle-east.

Manjunath M D is the Managing Director & CEO of KNND Associates Private Limited. Manjunath has managed diverse functions in multiple roles with 21 years of career having experience in P&L accountability, profit centre operations, managing company and business portfolios. Manjunath’s previous assignment was heading the HVAC Energy solution vertical of Carrier “AdvanTEC”. Job profile primarily involved identifying customers from diverse market segments, establishing the energy savings potential by conducting energy audits and offering Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) backed with sustenance packages using IoT and Remote Monitoring tools.

Manjunath has handled diverse portfolios like HVAC, Construction Equipment sales and finance, Material Handling Equipment with proven excellence in providing innovative ideas for growing sales. Also, developed Construction Equipment Rental Business model at Ingersoll Rand. Has presented Technical papers at Industry events organized by Greenotels, IGBC, ISHRAE, CII on HVAC Energy Solutions. Has Overseas (Sri Lanka) work experience managing Commercial Applied Equipment Sales business for Carrier.

Whale Done approach, catching people doing right

System Integration companies barring the big names are generally unorganized. When Manjunath joined KNND it was semi-organized. The founding Directors after two decades of running the company wanted professionals to take over and elevate the company to the next level. Prior to joining KNND, Manjunath had worked with corporates like Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Volvo, Citi Bank, Godrej who are very professional in every aspect of their business operations.

When he took over the administration at KNND, his primary goal was to bring in corporate culture and process transformation in an organization which had a direct force of 300 members and in-direct work force (Sub contractors) of over 700 members. Setting processes, creating marketing content, adoption of automation, “having a shared vision”, Value system, creating codes for ETHICS, EHS and operating systems was challenging. “However, two years down the line am happy with the transformation that we have achieved in our organization”, he asserts.   

Working for corporates, he had the chance to attend several training programs in India and overseas. The most notable ones are the Key Account management program at Singapore, Miller Heiman Training, and Dale Carnegie Course programs. Also, participated in Carrier Global Engineering Conference, Las Vegas.

“To me having a training calendar with a good annual budget and making the programs mandatory for every employee would bring about the desired positive changes in the outlook of the company. I have ensured this through EHS, ETHICS and operational excellence programs, have parked budgets for technical and soft skill programs”, he says. His personal style of management is a “Whale Done” approach, catching people doing right. Directing their energies and efforts towards the organizational goals.

Lowest attrition rate

The company boasts the lowest attrition rate, the average experience of people in the mid-level management level is over 12 years. “What I am also proud of is the fact that with a combined turnover of over 165 crores, we have consistently maintained Zero debt, our finance costs are negligible and have a reasonably good reserve”, Manjunath rejoices.

HVAC & R industry has stiff competition, probably being the second largest industry after the automobile sector. There is a big divide between the organised and the un-organised segment. Competing with new-entrants who do not have any entry barriers is a challenge. “There are overseas investments especially from Japanese companies into system integration companies pumping in cash and putting pressure on self-sustained organisations like us”, Manjunath asserts when asked about the challenges. 

Next, there’s a shortage of skilled labour in the HVAC industry. The trained manpower with a few years of experience tend to migrate to greener overseas markets like the middle east. In a business subject to seasonal swings in demand in the residential segment, managing skilled frontline workforce is the biggest challenge.

However, a positive mental attitude & passion for doing something significantly valuable has been the biggest guiding factor for the company. “The Company has to grow in size and geographical footprint. We want to do this through an aggressive organic growth and also by infusing capital thru PE funds / listing”, Manjunath says.

Rewarding effort and not just success

Manjunath believes in rewarding effort and not just success as an approach to encourage creative thinking. Also, he recognizes and appreciates every idea however small. “Creating forums for new thoughts and documenting them is what I believe encourages people to be more creative”, he says.

HVAC & R is an exciting industry, there is a whole lot of innovation happening. In a very short time frame, we are going to look at air-conditioning in an entirely different perspective. The traditional methods of cooling solutions with use of compressors and refrigerants may soon become a thing of the past in the residential & light Commercial segment. Seven out of Ten shortlisted participants of Global Cooling Challenge have proposed alternate technologies. The Pandemic has created a sense of absolute need for a) Compliances to ISHRAE & ASHRAE air-conditioning standards b) Innovative ideas to avoid air borne contagion transmission in conditioned spaces.

“We as an industry are adopting IoT and SAAS like never before, it is an exciting time to be part of the HVAC industry”, he says. Manjunath has a message to consumers, he says, “HVAC industry is at its peak of innovation, you can expect energy efficient and cost-effective technology implementation”.

When Manjunath is not at work, he loves spending time with family, relatives and friends. Also, reads a book on self-improvement or fiction book, attend a course on Udemy or Coursera or watch a series on OTT.

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