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GRI Executive Sees 2021 as 'Year of Growth'

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"We are currently in our best position to grow, integrating vertically and horizontally," says GRI's Subasinghe.

Prabhash Subasinghe, managing director of Sri Lanka-based Global Rubber Industries (Pvt.) Ltd. (GRI), is looking forward to the new year. "I see 2021 as a year of endurance and growth for GRI," he says.

Subasinghe says GRI's sector of the tire industry - which encompasses ag, construction and industrial tires - "has done well, but we must look at the world and global economy at large.

"Our hope for 2021 is that COVID-19 would end. However, the economic recovery and the aftershocks will take longer to overcome and have already left adverse effects on the world.

"I look at 2021 as a year to build and grow on the strong foundation we laid in 2020. Last year was our year of resilience. This year will be our year of rapid growth."

GRI has diversified its business, says Subasinghe. It also continues to build its North American dealer network. (GRI has a sales presence in 50 countries overall.)

"In our material handling business, we have operated in 14 different states for the last 15 to 20 years," he told MTD this past September. "In our newer business, which is our (ag tire) business, our plan is to be successful at the regional level.

"We’ve increased the number of dealers we work with to almost 10. All of them are more localized and are operating more at the local level. We’re still predominantly operating in the Midwest, the Northeast and the South. Our ambition is to move towards California, which will become an important point for us." (Click here to read the full interview.)

"We will also look at expanding in new geographical areas in 2021 and widen our B2C business footprint worldwide."

In addition, to meet growing demand, GRI is investing to boost capacity at its radial ag tire manufacturing plant.

Focus on sustainability

"Sustainability continues to be an important part of our growth vision," notes Subasinghe. "I don't think sustainability is a choice anymore for businesses. You need to understand its importance and build it into your business. If not, I do not think you have a future, and many don't realize this, or they don't see the value or (they) talk about sustainability as something superficial and not a way of life.

"Consumer behavior around the world is changing and no matter what 2021 brings, the importance of sustainability will only grow."

GRI will continue to develop its GreenX Circle initiative, which includes a number of natural rubber collection centers, the latest of which opened last summer.

"The ideology behind GreenX Circle is to build connectivity between the farming community and the farmer on the other side, who is producing to feed the world," Subasinghe told MTD last year. "We are even looking at some of the United Nations sustainability goals as part of this initiative."

The GreenX Circle program "leans on Sri Lanka’s rich agricultural heritage that spans over 2,500 years of sustainable agriculture and connects Sri Lankan farmers with farmers worldwide. Our manufacturing plants also keep sustainability at its core by minimizing waste, maximizing energy efficiency and incorporating eco-friendly materials in production. In 2020, we were one of the first companies in Sri Lanka to introduce an eco-friendly solid tire into the world.

"We need to be thankful that we have operated without disruption, that our employees are all with us and that our customers have business. Our ecosystems have not just survived but grown in many ways.

"We should consider ourselves fortunate," he continues. "We got through 2020 – one of the worst economic times in the world – and emerged stronger."

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