September 24, 2007 (Malaysia Star) DATUK Vinod B. Sekhar is headed for a bigger stage after having just recently addressed an audience of nearly 400 global chief executives at the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore. There, he promoted Green Rubber Global as the world’s first commercially viable waste-free way to recycle the over one billion discarded tyres.
In the middle of this week, he will attend the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in New York. The working sessions of the meeting, which is held from Sept 26 to 28, will focus on education, energy and climate change, global health and poverty alleviation.
This time around, Vinod may spring another surprise by announcing a proposal for grand-scale farming of jatropha plant based on the smallholders concept.
The jatropha seeds can be crushed to create a cost-effective substitute to petroleum diesel.
His proposal may be timely as oil prices are racing to hit new highs and The Petra Group’s entry into the biodiesel sector is to further commercialise the jatropha seeds.
Judging from his actions, this man is riding the green wave bandwagon as the world becomes more aware on the need to protect the planet.
“The timing is right to expand into the global marketplace with the green revolution and we have the technology and formula that helps us recycle, save money and help humanity at the same time,’’ said Vinod, who is president and group chief executive of The Petra Group. He is also CEO of its subsidiary Green Rubber.
“It is my strong belief that no programme, project or technology that has been created to solve the problems of the world can succeed globally unless it is commercially viable,” he added.
Petra has a formula to recycle old rubber via the De-Link compound, and Green Rubber has the technology to turn recycled rubber into many rubber products, from tyres to shoe soles, while maintaining the durability of the rubber compound.
Jatropha oil as a fuel has existed for sometime now, but not on a large commercial scale. He said grand scale planting of the plant in several countries could result in economies of scale to further commercialise the seed extracts into biodiesel and at the same time, provide social economic status.
Whether prominent businessmen and celebrities will feature in Vinods’ venture into biodiesel is not known. However, some bigwigs are his partners in the Green Rubber business.
Actor Mel Gibson recently expressed that “the potential is mind boggling’’ for Green Rubber, in which he is a shareholder.
Green Rubber and jatropha are just two of the many things that Petra is involved in. Others include technologies/solutions such as DeProtin that addresses latex allergy, Scallar Technologies that uses scalar waves to treat HIV positive patients, and Petra Financial, which develops software for the banking industry.
To go global, Vinod said, Petra had set up offices in London, Albuquerque in New Mexico and Los Angeles. “The strategy for us going forward is to strengthen the technical support and marketing team from 10 to 25 people. More distributors would be appointed in Europe, the US and Asia, especially in China and India,’’ he said.
The company’s De-Link compound, which is used to turn old rubber into “new”, is sold commercially in Thailand, Indonesia and China, and it would be extended into more markets.
Green Rubber has also teamed up with some parties to manufacture and sell rubber products made from recycled rubber wastes. A plant is expected to be built in Gallup near Albuquerque and another jointly with US-based Apache Mills in the US. Apache Mills is a supplier of rubber products to Wal-Mart.
With the green wave catching on fast globally, Vinod hopes that one day, Green Rubber would become a trademark for most rubber-based products. He likes the idea of “Intel Inside’’ for computers and hopes to emulate that for rubber products.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen, as these are still early days for Green Rubber, which may want to get on the fast lane.
The biggest challenge for Green Rubber is to educate consumers and rubber product manufacturers on the need to recycle and that recycled products are as good as those using virgin rubber.
Vinod knows the challenges too well. But he is also the man who, at the age of 20, had built his business from scratch (unfortunately, he suffered the wrath of the Asian economic crisis). He is making a strong comeback with the new offerings and remains confident that “the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.’’
Time will tell whether Petra or Green Rubber will be successful. For now, he is working hard with a team of experts cruising the world to spread the word on green.