Harish V Holalu
Founded in 1665 in Paris, France for manufacturing glass, Saint-Gobain group has been the pioneers in the glass facades since then. Over the years, the group has diversified into several products and gone on to become global leaders in sustainable habitat and construction markets that designs, manufactures, and distributes building and high-performance materials. Saint-Gobain group is a Fortune 500 company and ranked among the Top-100 most innovating global companies. Currently, the Group has presence in 62 countries, about 2 lakh employees and €42 billion in global sales.

The year 2015 marks the 350th anniversary of the existence of this French multinational. "The group has recently started celebration by reconnecting and avidly engaging with all the external stakeholders including architects and builders," said Mr. Harish V Holalu, Business Manager - Building Products & Solutions while sharing with MGS Architecture as how the group helped improve the quality standard of Indian building materials thereby maintaining its leadership position. Excerpts:

How has been the journey of Saint-Gobain group in India, so far?
Saint-Gobain set up its operations in India in 1996, and since then has achieved strong and consistent growth, emerging as a leader in all its major businesses with two companies being listed as well. The current turnover in India being over Rs.4,000 crore, the company has always laid emphasis on localization and indigenization of the efforts that led it to establish 20 manufacturing sites spread across country. Apart from pioneering the product in India; the group also established trained applicators and dealers all over India. We today have full-fledged team for technical support and extend 24x7 customer service.

LAR Moire Black Residence Thrissur
LAR-Moire, Black-Residence-Thrissur

The group is primarily known for its Glass and Gypsum products. Which other new building materials that the company has introduced off late in India?
In the recent past, Saint-Gobain introduced Roofing Shingles for its Indian customers. Branded as 'CertainTeed', this product is from Saint-Gobain's exterior-roofing division in the USA. This is the most widely used roofing product for external sloped roofs in North America and several other continents. Roofing Shingles are increasingly becoming the most preferred material for sloped roofs across India. Every reputed villa and gated community projects across the country are using Shingles, because it makes the roof waterproof, unbreakable, and highly durable.

What make roofing shingles suitable for Indian Conditions?
Roofing shingles has all the preferred features for roofs. They are waterproof, cyclone-resilient, algae-resistant, fire-retardant, and come with 30 plus years of product warranty. Moreover, there is 20 plus colors and 8 profile-designs to choose from. They ideally suit the diverse weather conditions in India, besides being preferred for their durability. Shingles can be laid on variety of roof substrates including RCC, fibercement boards, and marine plywood.

What are the recent technological advancements in this product?
In the recent years, a lot of focus has been directed towards developing sustainable and energy-efficient products. Shingles too were relooked on this front. Saint-Gobain's innovative technology raised the bar by introducing advanced roofing granules that reflect solar energy and radiate heat even when the roof is bright and colorful thereby enabling the roof to stay cool. The uniquely designed roofing product –Solaris range of shingles has got them fame and recognition. It was included in the 100 most technologically significant innovations of 2012 by R&D Magazine, USA. This award is a reference for industries as diverse as telecommunications, high-energy physics, software, manufacturing, and biotechnology.

Row House Project, Bangalore
Row House Project, Bangalore LAR-Atlantic Blue-Shillong

Saint-Gobain has recently introduced cladding material called Vinyl Sidings; can you share more information about the product?
Following the success of Shingles, Saint-Gobain came with its cladding product - Vinyl Sidings for its discerning Indian buyers. Christened as CertainTeed, these sidings have, in fact, been rated No. 1 brand by building professionals in USA for the past 14 years. It is a zero-maintenance product with anti-fading technology for external wall cladding. They come in the form of PVC panels in different profiles and shades. This product ensures 100% waterproofing, resistance to colour-fading, and can withstand cyclones. Sidings render a very pleasing aesthetic appeal and are increasingly being preferred by the residential, commercial, and hospitality segment across the country.

PS: Shingles basically are a composite material made up of asphalt, with fiberglass mesh inside and ceramic coated granules on top surface. Available in mat-form, Shingles are about 4 mm thick roof sheets for application on sloped roof substrate. Product features include choice of colors & patterns, its' waterproof, flexible and highly durable; making it an ideal product roof surface material for sloped roofs.