The pressure sensitive adhesive labels industry is growing at a steady and rapid pace in India. It is now time that the contribution of those who have achieved success is chronicled so that those who wish to move ahead have a platform to look for information and news. This blog intends to provide inspiration and reference.
SMI Labels and Packaging Materials
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Women who endeavored in the Indian Labels industry.
When Shakespeare said, “Frailty, thy name is woman” he probably did not realize the strength that women generate when in a seat of power, cannot be matched by men. The level of mental endurance women have has made many a strong men in an otherwise male dominated society, lean on their feminine and delicate shoulders in hours of distress. Women have risen from being mere homemakers to world leaders. Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi lead their countries and made the world realize that women can lead from the front with an iron hand. Over the ages women around the world have been given lesser opportunities to literacy and technical education as compared to men. It is a fact that countries that have invested in educating their women and have promoted their empowerment have seen their economies and rate of development grow faster. Across the world more and more women are now acquiring expertise and capabilities similar to their men folk. They strive hard to excel in their selected areas of work. We are seeing that change happening in India as well. A society that insisted on restricting their women to household chores is gradually transforming. With government spending heavily in bringing public awareness on the need to also educate the girl child and empower women, the results are evident. Walk into any big company’s office and you see a lot of young and bright women carrying on their work with confidence and crisp efficiency. Women are now more educated and capable of involving themselves in more and more arenas that were earlier the mainstay of men only. Whether it is police or army, flying aircrafts or travelling into space, heading businesses or governments, they are not restricting themselves. Our Indian label industry did not have active business women managers till not very long ago. All that is changing now, Indian women are acquiring technical and management skills to lead high levels of investments in the label industry that is in a growth path. It is thus that I felt it is time to recognize the contribution of these women.
In 1989 my friend Sushil Bhatia, who used to work for Avery Dennison before he started his own business, introduced me to a young and vibrant Honey Vazirani, working at Paper Products Limited, Thane. That was almost the beginning of this wonderful girls’ journey into the world of labels. From being a management trainee in1989, she rose to be the head of the labeling division of this 700 Crore company which is heavily into flexible packaging. It is truly a decorative and colorful travel. Ever since then Honey has been at the forefront of PPL’s foray into production of labels which began in 1991. Her job involved client servicing, marketing, product development and leading the labels team at PPL. She has handled key customers who are a virtual who is who of the fmcg sector. Servicing demanding customers like HUL and Dabur and bringing to them the most premium and modern labeling technologies has been a passion for her. In words of Torsten Jung Lenz, who in those days worked for Jacstadt Germany, “Honey is married to labels!” Her ambition is to excel in everything she does. Having spent 21 years in the industry she took a sabbatical in 2009. She spent a whole year consolidating herself by travelling, reading, spending time with friends and relatives and enjoying good food. Yes, she is a self confessed foodie! In 2010 she returned to PPL, which has four plants and 1500 employees, to head the company’s HR department. While she is contented and enjoying her new role in HR, yet you can see the twinkle in her eyes when you ask about her future in the labels industry. Her advice to others in the label printing and packaging industry is that it is a pity that for most in the industry, “Good enough is enough” She motivates people in her company by her mantra, “ Good enough is not enough”.
In the late eighties, I had the chance to meet a very talented screen printer Kartar Singh Dunglay of Goodwork Co. which had started to print in 1955. He is one of the elders in our industry from an era and class of people who were in love with their work as the youngsters are today with their girlfriends. They would think work and dream work. It was during that time I met his dynamic wife Kusum Dunglay. Kusum is an MBA from London University and lead Goodwork's entry into label printing. She first bought a Mark Andy press and followed it up with a fully loaded Gallus for specialized and decorative labels. She now heads sister concern Reydunn Label Printing Pvt. Ltd. With a work force of 80, she is handling clients like ITC, L’Oreal and other leading FMCG groups in India. Given the experience and innovative heritage that her husband mentored, she was one of the earliest ones to invest in a combination press. Kusum Dunglay is quite excited at the prospects of tapping the growth emanating out of the Indian indulgences in retail marketing. In 2002 at one of the roadshows at New Delhi for promoting the India Label Show, in my presentation, I talked about the two women who were heading successful label printing companies at that time. Both are like sisters to me. One is of course is Kusum Dunglay, while the other is Amila Singhvi. Amila Singhvi heads the large IPP at Noida. Since her print packaging business is growing multifold at a fast pace, she has decided to gradually exit from the label business and concentrate in the packaging business.
Soft spoken gentleman of the label industry Bharat Mehta is both, the history and present of the Indian label industry. He is one of the first label printers in India. I could sit with him and chat for hours about our time spent in this industry which has evolved like a family for him and me. Bharat Mehta’s Super Labels is one of the leading and respected label printing companies in Mumbai. His two sons have joined business in recent times after completing their management studies. Silently but emphatically, providing vital inputs and support is Bharat Mehta’s wife Meena Mehta, a B.Sc in Chemistry. For over 20 years she has been driving the organization through motivation, enthusiasm and participating in all decision making.
Renuka Raj, an MBA from IIFT Delhi, spent the first three years of her career in a paints company. Later she moved on to promote and run a pharmaceuticals business. A friend proposed for them to join in starting a label printing business, Renuka found it interesting as it was a backward integration for her pharmaceuticals business. That was the beginning for her labels venture Ra Labels at Hyderabad. She has been heading that business for the last 10 years. According to Renuka it was the first flexographic label printing company in Andhra Pradesh. Renuka has ambition to increase investment and grow in this industry to become leaders in Andhra Pradesh.
Delhi based Shaikher Kaishiv of Krishna Halftone Pvt. Ltd. Is also one of the earliest entrants into the label industry in the decade of 1980’s. In recent times he has handed over the reigns of this company to his daughter Divya Keshav, the present Managing Director. Divya works hard in this male dominated industry to carry forward the good work done by her father. She is post graduate in marketing and an alumnus of the India School of business, Hyderabad. She is recipient of “Rising Talent 2010” award given to 25 women entrepreneurs below the age of 40 across the globe by the “Women Forum for Economy & Society” France. Her company operates from two locations in New Delhi and Noida with multiple label presses. There are other women entrepreneurs who I am aware of but have not responded to my emails requesting information to cover them in this article. Shweta Sheth, an alumnus of Amherst, Massachusetts USA, is actively involved in the working of Primark labels as a director. Primark is a part of the General Metallisers Group. Anjali Deshpande, wife of LMAI General Secretary, Ramesh Deshpande has been the driving force behind the success of Renu Prints, Aurangabad. She has been honored for her work by the ministry of MSME (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises). Then there is the enterprising Ramesh at S K Labels in Chennai, who has also put his daughter in command.
After completing her post graduation course from IIM Lucknow, Priyata Raghavan joined the FMCG division of ITC Limited, before moving over to Sai Security Printers, a company owned by her father, Vijay Raghavan. Sai had invested in an imported press for producing scratch lotteries but a sudden ban on lotteries made them to sit up and rethink. The growing label segment presented the opportunity and they decided to enter this field. At that point of time Priyata took over the complete operations of the company in North India. The company has another unit in Bangalore. Priyata has lead the company’s label printing operations to profitability and an emphatic presence in the high quality label segment. Sai security printers surprised all at the last Labelexpo in New Delhi by announcing purchase of two Gallus Label Presses, one for their unit at Faridabad and the second one for Bangalore. Priyata sees tremendous scope in the growing label industry. She says, “There is a lot of scope for well managed vendors of high-end labels and packagings”. She is leading Sai Security Printers to be a leader, by offering well defined levels of services and technical competence.
Sandhya Shetty and Santosh Shetty
At the end of an industry meeting called by Roger Pellow, Managing Director of the UK based Labelexpo group in early 2008, to promote the next India Label Show, as I came down to the lobby of Hotel Grand Hyatt in Mumbai, I saw Manish Kapoor of Nilpeter in a serious discussion with a young man whom I did not recognize. Manish introduced him as Santosh Shetty Managing Director of Surface Graphics, a company founded by his father H G Shetty and involved in manufacture of cartons. Santosh was considering purchase of a Nilpeter press to expand into the label production. The venture was to be headed by his sister Sandhya Shetty. Sandhya is a graduate in Chemistry and Masters in management Studies (Marketing). On completing studies she had spent 8 years in the field of business research and analysis. She worked on projects involving Government contracts, Defence sector in the US and in the hospitality sector in India. When her brother Santosh brought the idea of producing labels to Sandhya, her feminine instincts went to work. The yearning to create products that would be decorative, add to aesthetics, have scope of innovation in design came to the fore. She called it a day for her research and analysis job and decided to be a “labels girl” from day one. Labelexpo 2008 was held in very traumatic times. Mumbai had suffered a dastardly terror attack and the global economies were in crisis mode and nose-diving. Sandhya’s new Nilpeter was being showcased at the show in New Delhi’s Exhibition Center Pragati Maidan. A confident brother sister team of Santosh and Sandhya were at the Nilpeter stand all the time meeting fellow printers, prospective suppliers, and other colleagues in the label industry. The industry found an instant friend in the ever smiling Sandhya. Despite the difficult economic scenario, she was determined to do justice to the MD’s chair that she was occupying in her company, Synergy Packaging Pvt. Ltd. and lead the company to its vision of success. In just two years of starting, Sandhya and her team produced their first award winning label. She aspires to take her company to global standards and global presence.
It was extremely difficult for me to write on so many women in one go. When I decided to do this article, I assumed that it would be a relatively simple job for me, given the knowledge and experience in the industry. Once I started to gather more and more information on these women and their capabilities, I was confused. I was wondering how short sighted Shakespeare may have been while calling women as frail. Well, that was his personal opinion and may have been true at that point of time. These are intelligent women with amazing capabilities and their craving to excel is unique. They are all educated and technically capable to talk the language their customers and their team will understand. Silently and efficiently they have worked their way to a position of strength. I wonder if I have done justice to their work. I could have written a separate article on each one of them and their achievements. These women are homemakers, mothers, sisters, and friends besides being the successful business persons they are. The more I tried to discover the more there was to learn. Maybe another time I will try to write on them separately but at this time it was necessary for me to write on them collectively, because it is my tribute to these women in the label industry, “The women who endeavored!”
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 6th March, 2011.