Naandika covers startups, tech, corporate and human interest stories. She holds a postgraduate degree from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM, Bangalore), with specialisation in Business and Investigative journalism. Apart from writing for the magazine, Naandika also handles social media, events and the Blogs section on forbesindia.com. Outside of work, you will find her traveling and exploring new places, volunteering for NGOs, rescuing animals, and mostly spending time around them.
Sandeep Engineer, founder of Astral Pipes, debuts on the 2019 Forbes India Rich List at No 98 with a net worth of $1.45 billion. “This is a proud moment for my hardworking team and me. We registered stable growth in spite of turbulence in the category, fluctuating oil prices and recessionary trends,” says Engineer, who founded Astral Poly Technik in 1998 (it was rebranded by son Kairav in 2011) after trying his hand at making pharma ingredients in the previous decade.
When Engineer launched chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) pipes, initially he found no takers as the pipes were not meant for plumbing. In 2001, Astral entered the plumbing sector, after which CPVC pipes were preferred over galvanised iron ones. The company hasn’t looked back since. Revenues of ₹15 crore in 2003 grew to ₹25 crore in a year. In 2007, when Astral had a top line of ₹60 crore, Engineer decided to take the company public. The IPO raised ₹35 crore, after which Astral completed its product line in the CPVC segment and kept growing at a 20 percent compound annual rate for the next 12 years. “I’m pleased that Astral has reached this level in a short span, has many eco-friendly and customer-oriented product lines, and has become a household brand when it comes to the construction industry,” says Engineer, who also made it to Forbes’s The World’s Billionaires List for 2019.
The company's sales got a shot in the arm after it roped in actor Salman Khan as brand ambassador in 2014. Engineer believes there are two things that work well in India: Cricket and Bollywood. This year, Astral was a sponsor for Rajasthan Royals, KKR and Sunrisers Hyderabad teams in the Indian Premier League.
Recently, Engineer acquired Rex Polyextrusion for ₹147.50 crore to enter the infrastructure segment; Rex makes double-wall corrugated pipes. “Astral gives significant importance to R&D and has started manufacturing many new products indigenously. This focussed approach towards better quality, innovations and product mix helps us grow and strengthen our market presence,” says Engineer.
Astral has 11 factories, including three in the US, the UK and Kenya.