Mario Schmidt, Managing Director, Lingel India and Germany, is considered a pioneer, technical expert, and marketing whiz, having steered the success of the Lingel brand across India in a span of about 14 years. He is today the face of the company for leading developers, interior designers, and architects. His passion and dedication towards growing his company and his focus on bringing the latest technological advancements in his products have brought about a marked modernisation of the fenestration system. This feature highlights the lesser-known facts about his professional journey, his business acumen, and his strong customer-centric approach that has won him accolades in his field of work and many friends too in the fenestration fraternity.
Growing the Lingel brand in India
My journey was not an easy one. In 2006, when I came to India, the market was just emerging for UPVC. Since very few companies were aware of UPVC as a fenestration material, I had the Herculean task of creating awareness for the product, and later on, with a meagre workforce I established a factory in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan.
It has been oven 14 years in India. We have been one of the pioneers of UPVC in India, when there were very few players in the market. Since then we have created a niche and have a well-defined customer base. We are well known in the industry for our technical expertise. Since I have been with the company since its start, I have built a strong market for Lingel products and a long-lasting connect with our customers.
Challenges I encountered in the Indian market
When I came to India, I did not even know English, but I learnt it and also adapted myself to the country’s traditions and culture. And now I am adept at travelling around the country and I have created a customer base pan India.
Leading by example
Mario Schmidt has been leading the Lingel brand for uPVC and Alu windows and doors since 2006. He is passionate about his field of work, forward looking, well-aware of technological advancements, and totally unassuming. A stickler for time, he leads by example, and his team follows suit.
Over the years he has built a strong core team that manages end-to-end solutions for customers from generating leads to installation. He believes in imbibing and sharing knowledge and inspiring his team to explore new fenestration technologies. He holds a dealer meet (online) every Saturday where he discusses the products and the technologies in detail - for the learning experience of his team and the dealers.
My academic portfolio includes a Bachelor’s with a German certification for ‘Master Craftsman for Windows and Furniture Design’ and an MBA in Business Economist from Handwerkskammer Chemnitz Germany. After completing Mechanical Science in the year 1944 I realised I had an inclination for fenestration, so I pursued it. I was also the youngest GM at the German state Saxony, when I joined the fenestration industry in 1994. In 2016, I also completed a Global Management course at the University of California, Berkeley.
His specialties include management, corporate development, product development, business operations, strategy, and developing customer relations. His company works closely with Indian government bodies BIS, BEE, MSDE as well as German government bodies GIZ and DEG.
The fenestration market of India was very disorganised and there were many players selling UPVC. I was one of the pioneer members of UWDMA (a non-governmental organization formed by industry leaders to promote and propagate uPVC windows and doors and its benefits to the Indian construction industry and the public at large). Since the inception of UWDMA in 2008 the unorganized market size has reduced significantly, and the market share of UPVC window and door manufacturers has increased. Over the years, the Association has become stronger with more members keen to follow the guidelines to create quality products.
Currently, the Indian market for windows and doors is around ₹14,000-15,000 crore. For the past few years, the market for aluminium windows and doors is also gaining popularity. As per our research, the marked size for UPVC profiles and UPVC windows together in India is around ₹2000 crore.
Making an indelible mark on India’s fenestration industry
Someone with little or no knowledge of the English language, the Indian market, and the culture and traditions of the country, when he first came to India in 2006, his achievements in growing the Lingel brand across the country in a span of a little over 14 years is indeed commendable.
Today, Lingel ranks amongst the top ten companies in the industry. It is hardly surprising then that Mario has been honoured with several prestigious awards like India’s Top Mind 2020 by The Brand Story; ACETECH’s Design Wall Gold Winner Award in 2014 and again in 2016, the Franchise India’s Magpie Estate Awards, Realty Fact, ZAK Award 2017 and 2018, and more.
He was a founding member of the uPVC window and door manufacturer association UWDMA in 2008; technical head between 2008 till 2016 and has been its President since 2016. Given his deep knowledge of products and of various industries, and his oratory skills, he is invited to numerous discussions and conferences as a panellist. The modernization of India’s fenestration industry can be duly attributed to him.
I am of the belief that growth can only come through innovation
The opportunities are endless, and one has to be farsighted to achieve a greater result. During the past 14 years I have contributed by knowledge and expertise in the field of fenestration to the industry, and have innovated with systems like Lingel alu 6.0, Smart Li (wi-fi operated windows) to the latest in glazing and hardware. The Lingel Security DAYS 2020 is the latest product that I have introduced as due to Covid-19 customers became more concerned about protecting their homes from potential negative external forces, including pollution. These security windows make our customers feel more secure at their homes and keep their loved ones safe too. We have achieved this from the right combination of glazing, hardware and locking system in the windows.
For security glazing systems we offer options like LPG 14 Lingel Panzer Glazing 14mm multilayer security glass; LPG 18 Lingel Panzer Glazing 18 mm superior performance glass; Lingel Safety box 2 (LBS 2), which is Lingel’s highest point of locking security. The introduction of the mortise locking system is an additional feature that can be provided.
The customer always expects new products, and we have to ensure that we can offer the best solutions. I have often told my team and even my customers: “Easy projects anyone can do but if you have something challenging and difficult then come to me.” I enjoy challenges and finding solutions to them!
I can proudly say that 50 percent of our orders are repeat orders
I want to see Lingel become a company that is known for its quality and expertise. Every Lingel family member has to rise to the challenge of keeping the customers happy and selling not just windows but building a relationship with them – a relationship of trust. Today, I can proudly say 50 percent of our orders are repeat orders.
But here again I would like to position our company with all our high-end individual designs differently. Our in-house R&D and our designers working on their computer systems with the best available software are the backbone of the signature projects which we are working on.
What India means to me
I love this place and for 14 years now this is my home. I have been fortunate to have come across so many people because of my work and the friends I have made are going for be there for the rest of my life.
Lingel’s country-wide presence has made me visit almost all the places across the country. From the Himalayas to Tamil Nadu, from the north east till Gujarat, each region has its uniqueness. I have invited many of my German friends to discover with me the beauty of India.
What I like about India: The warm welcome and the respect given. With an open heart I have been welcomed at so many places and since I am always positive and usually very funny I found many friends in the industry as well as my customers.
Why I will continue to stay and work in India: I consider Lingel India as my own child, since its inception till date. It’s now at the age of being a wild teenager and still needs a lot of attention and guidance. In short, I think I found my destiny when I came to this country and along with Lingel India there is a long, long way for me to go.
Most of my time is dedicated to the company and I am passionate about its growth and advancement. And when I am not working or travelling for work I surely love to listen to some music. I used to be in a music band in my college days and I enjoy strumming the guitar off and on. I speak both German and English fluently and I enjoy pastas, burgers, and iced tea.