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Corporate Report

Published on: July 26, 2021, 1:23 p.m.
Dhruv takes a pole position
  • Dandawate with daughter Tanvi: taking a long term view; Photo: Sanjay Borade

By Lancelot Joseph. Executive Editor, Business India

“We are migrating from the SME platform to the main board on the BSE,” explains Pandurang B Dandawate, promoter and founder chairman of Dhruv Consultancy Services Ltd. “Dhruv in Sanskrit means stable polestar which resides 20 degrees latitude in the north direction,” says Dandawate who christened his company in 2003.

Dandawate is a civil engineer who joined the Maharashtra Public Service Commission and was selected as a Class I officer in PWD, Government of Maharashtra as a deputy engineer at the young age of 23. He served in the government for 23 years. “In my tenure I was instrumental in the construction and commissioning of 16 flyovers on the Eastern Express Highway including Sino flyover and a trendsetting elevated structure – The JJ Flyover”, says Dandawate who took voluntary retirement from PWD and start Dhruv Consultancy Services as a Pvt Ltd. beginning with 200 sq ft. of rented office space at Vashi with four employees and with no experience of entrepreneurship. “My mentor was the then CMD of IRB, the late D.P. Mhaiskar, who also left the service as junior engineer in BMC and built the empire of IRB and MEP.”

 Hurdle to get eligibility criteria

“I faced many challenges during this period of transition and the major challenge was to build a team of capable and vibrant individuals to achieve the target of excellence” says Dandawate. With just four projects in the first year of incorporation which yielded a revenue of Rs25 lakh, he started slow. However, the fighting spirit instilled due to challenges faced earlier in life kept going and becoming strong day by day.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome was the eligibility criteria set out by government agencies for appointing consultants. “We dealt with it in a surgical fashion, building the credentials of the firm step by step by bagging private and sub-consultancy works. While doing this we made a name for the firm and our team. I kept it clear and brought to the mind of the team that we have to maintain a highly professional attitude in dealing and completing assignments of varied complexities,” he says.

Dhruv bagged the first large work of design and project management consultancy work for the project of the Bhiwandi-Kalyan Shil Road amounting of Rs210 crore in 2006. The work included converting an existing two-lane road into a four-lane one on State Highway No 4, including one creek bridge of 269.8 metres long, one road overbridge (ROB) 475.14 metres long, inclusive of design.

“The alignment of the existing road was two lanes which passed through a densely populated area where land acquisition was a very difficult task and this was completed overcoming unusual difficulties; a toll plaza was constructed at two locations. The road proved a major link between the Bhiwandi junction and Shilphata. The client was PLUS Expressways Berhad (KL) Malaysia. The work was completed in 2009 on BOT basis,” adds Dandawate. 

This was the first milestone of the company as it got international exposure. The completion of a large project which posed many challenges and the sizeable fee helped the company a lot in building its credentials, net-worth and experience.

Now, with the company’s credentials growing and the vision of diversification shown by the Dhruv team, it started venturing into projects of bridge inspections using mobile bridge inspection units (MBIU). Based on the technical expertise and highly qualified manpower, Dhruv bagged two out of the 12 packages floated by MoRTH for bridge inspection using MBIU in 2015. The company was also the first of all the consultants to bring MBIU to India. It now has two MBIU from one of the most reputed international manufacturers and inspects bridges in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Basically, any infrastructural construction project has two stages; namely the pre-tendering stage and post tendering stage. For both the stages the government requires a qualified and experienced group of individuals so as to ease the already over-burdened government officials. This requirement is addressed by infrastructural consultants like Dhruv Consultancy.

It has been working with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), NHAI, State PWD (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh) and other state governments, City Industrial Development Corporation, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, UP State Bridge Corporation (UPSBC), Indian Highway Management Company Limited (IHMCL), Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and other government organisations. It has a presence in 23 states and union territories.

“A quality and cost-based system (QCBS) of evaluation emphasises the technical score of the consultant more than the financial score. And in this aspect of technical score, Dhruv is ahead of the competition, which enables it to bag projects with higher profit margins than the competition,” says Dandawate as he moved his daughter, Tanvi Auti into the company and listed the company on the BSE SME exchange in May 2018.

The company raised Rs23.19 crore at a fixed price of Rs54 per share (CMP:Rs26.) which was oversubscribed by 2.64 times. Meanwhile in financial terms, the company, for March 2021, clocked a turnover of Rs59.76 crore (previous year: Rs48.74 crore and reported a profit after tax of Rs2.64 crore (Rs1.06 crore) working to an earnings per share of Rs1.85 (Rs0.74).

 Strong order book

“Currently, we have bid for 153 works in calendar year 2020 amounting to Rs1,000 crore and have won 13 of these works amounting to Rs82 crore with success ratio of 8 per cent”, points out Tanvi Auti, 29, MD of Dhruv Consultancy talking about the current order book of Rs300 crore.

“We are planning to bid Rs2,000 crore worth of works in calendar year 2021 with increased financial and technical strength, hence more score, and we are expecting a success ratio of 15 per cent”, adds Auti as the government has reduced the performance security from 10 per cent to 3 per cent for all old and new government assignments. “This has increased our bid capacity and increased cash flows. There are increased opportunities in the highway sector due to the large size of works and new opportunities in port/water resource engineering.”

Meanwhile the company is looking at solid waste management (SWM). Yes, the Indian waste management services market is in its growth stage and is gaining global attention. “Due to the high cost involved for a sustainable SWM, government along with urban local bodies (ULBs) are increasingly participating with the private sector through public private partnerships to find sustainable solutions for the waste management industry,” says Auti.

  • I faced many challenges during this period of transition and the major challenge was to build a team of capable and vibrant individuals to achieve the target of excellence

“The emergence of waste management market can be directly attributed to the following: growing urbanisation with influx of rural population to towns, high standard of living demanding quality services and living spaces, mounting pressure on local government bodies with stringent environmental regulations and increasing levels of awareness in society of the ill effects of improper disposal of solid waste,” reasons Dandawate, using the bio-mining technique. 

As per a Frost & Sullivan analysis, there is huge scope for bio-mining projects since most of metro, tier 1 and tier 2 cities have dumping sites with 15-plus years and need to clear the legacy waste for new waste dumping in the site which will attract more organised companies to invest for bio-mining projects across India.

Talking about the solar consultancy services, Dhruv, through an associate firm, has experience of installation and commissioning of a solar system of 5 MW costing about Rs20 crore. “They have developed India’s first solar rooftop for Mumbai metro. There are many opportunities in this sector, but project sizes are as large as 10 MW demanding more capital, particularly in PPP mode”, says Dandawate and for reaping the benefits of these opportunities he has signed an MoU for jointly bidding for the projects where Dhruv will act as lead and financial partner. Thus, the project will come into the balance sheet of Dhruv.

Lastly, Dhruv is eyeing the small structure works and structural repair works. “There are many opportunities in this segment development of small specialised structures like arches for cable stayed bridges, repair works of existing structures and repairs to concrete pavements,” says Auti.

“The diversification is planned with a long-term view of tapping a new untapped segment and also improving the position of Dhruv in the currently established segment,” sums up Dandawate.

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