Saturday, August 7, 2010
Raveendran, humble yet successful!
Some 25 years ago I heard of Mr. Raveendran of Sivakasi. I came to know that he was doing a good job in self adhesive labels in Sivakasi and I decided I had to meet him. There was a printing exhibition being held in Chennai so I called him and fixed that we meet there. When I arrived in that dusty ground where the exhibition was being held in tents, similar to those that were being used in India those days for weddings, I realised that I did not recognize him and had never met him. I asked an exhibitor about him and was told he was just here! Anyway I spent the rest of time looking for him unsuccessfully. I eventually met him later at another show. I was surprised at the simplicity of the man and to this day he continues to surprise me by his simplicity and humble nature. I continue to meet him at almost every important label event in all parts of the world. He has a voracious appetite to learn some more.
Descendent of a family where the grand father was in grocery business and father trading in chemicals for fireworks, matches and printing, all what Sivakasi is known for. The family’s foray into printing was by chance. An uncle who bought a Japanese flat bed press in seventies was unsuccessful. Raveendran’s family bailed him out and ventured into printing business. At that time they were printing unsupported stock or wet glue labels and garment labels. 1982 saw Raveendran visiting Drupa and witnessing the success of self adhesive labels in the west. He returned to setup his flagship firm “Seljegat Printers”. From the first flatbed label press, Seljegat began its journey into self adhesive labels. They imported their first flexo press a Mark Andy but were disappointed as the Indian agents sold to them an obsolete model. Raveendran proudly remembers that the company realized their mistake and replaced the equipment with a brand new Mark Andy 2200! Success followed them in form of customers like KIWI- TTK LTD AND RECKITT COLMAN & COMPANY. Seljegat has travelled a long way since then. Raveendran fondly remembers that they had to hang their labels on a drying line for hours to dry them. Today Seljegat is operating from a 40000 sq.ft. factory where another 25000 sq.ft. is under construction. With a capital investment of over Rupees 12Crores and 160 employees they spin out sales of over Rs.18 Crores. They have 13 roll to roll presses using a host of different printing and decorating processes.
Raveendran who is the face of Seljegat is a highly qualified person with an M.Tech, degree acquired after completing his B.E. in chemical engineering. Seljegat is a family run business and all three brothers jointly spear head it. They compliment each other and are proud that their parents motivated them to be honest businessmen. The industry today vouches for them. Jegatheesan the elder brother having overall control of the business, Raveendran is looking after the new product development and investment and Jeganathan is looking after the Finance and executions. The younger generation is also joining in. Jegatheesan’s son is an MBA looking after marketing operations. Raveendran’s son Prashanth who is a mechanical engineer is looking after the production and implementation of MIS Systems to bring professional management to this company. Before the year comes to end the following expansion programmes have already been put in place for implementation; A) ODRI (Offline Digital Reference Inspection) system with A2 Scanner (600 DPI) for ONLINE clearance of First printed label. B) Offline inspection slitting and rewinding system Rotoflex with NIKKA Inspection system. C) Esko Graphics CDI Spark 2530 Computer to plate system and Advanced software. D) Intermittent Feeding label printing machine – Iwasaki – Japan
I have had the opportunity to visit Sivakasi three times. The last time I visited when Anil Arora took a group on a southern sojourn as a part of his road shows to promote the India Label Show. Raveendran was there to receive us, take care of us and see us of at unimaginable hours! He was a perfect host to the Industry. Before that I went another time and I was surprised by his penchant and indulgence in quality control. I had to spend a lot of time in his lab to get my materials tested to his satisfaction. His yearning to learn more was evident from the amount of questions that he would ask. Now my first visit! I flew in from Chennai and he sent an ambassador taxi to pick me up from Madurai. That is the nearest airport. He is always a perfect host. He took me around to all his places of work. His office in the city, introduced me to his brothers, even arranged for me to visit other printers. When I went to his factory I was surprised to see a brand new elegant bus standing there. I thought like other enterprising south Indians he too had a transport company. No! It was a bus that ferried his employees to work in the morning and dropped them home in the evening. I was impressed. When we had finished with the factory tour and our discussions he asked my taxi driver to take me to a restaurant for Lunch and he would follow to join me there. So that after lunch I could leave straight to airport. As I got down from the cab and waited for my friend Raveendran, he came and I was surprised. Modest as he is, he came on a simple old motorcycle! This man provides for a brand new bus with reclining seats for his employees works hard, is a millionaire many times over, is successful and yet so humble. The success emanates from a mantra that Vanaja, his wife gave to him, “BE GOOD AND DO GOOD” automatically every thing will fall in line.