SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The growth of one of the biggest labelstock manufacturers in India

Ajay Mehta, Mg.Dir. SMI

Evolving from a business doing lamination jobs for sheet-fed offset printers founded in 1961, SMI Coated Products Pvt Ltd developed into one of India’s leading labelstock manufacturing companies. Harveer Sahni talked to the company owner about the reasons for this strategic realignment, referring to some particular conditions of the Indian label market.

The beginnings
 In 1956, Om Prakash Mehta started his own trading business at Kolkata by importing cosmetics and watches but due to cumbersome and restrictive licensing procedures prevailing at that time, he left that business. In 1960 he started to make 3D photos that were quite a novelty in those days and also made gift items.
A year later he saw potential in the print lamination business as glossy posters and catalogues became a very important selling tool. Therefore he started doing lamination jobs for sheet-fed offset printers. Due to terrorist activities of the left-wing Naxalites in the latter half of the 1960s and the resulting unstable local situation, he decided to relocate in Mumbai (known as Bombay in those days).
Once in Mumbai, Om Prakash Mehta started his enterprise SM Plastic Industries at rented premises in Nargis Compound, JB Nagar, Andheri, continuing the same print lamination business that he was doing in Kolkata. Initially it was a very difficult time and one of the first deals he remembers is that when he got a very big lead through Ajanta Printarts. They asked him to approach their biggest competitor and tell them Ajanta’s lamination job was done by SM Plastic Industries, the gimmick worked! He got the order and was soon doing jobs for printers across the nation. The customer base grew and in 1977 he bought his own premises in Shiv Shakti Industrial Estate and moved his operations there in 1982. In the following three to four years the sheet lamination business started to become localized and bigger printers preferred to do the jobs in-house.
Leaving the print lamination business in the hands of loyal workers, who till this day run the business with support from his son Ajay Mehta, who did his initial schooling at St. Lawrence School Kolkata and later at St. Teresa High School, Bandra, Mumbai. He then completed his B.Sc (Chemistry) from Mithibai College, Mumbai. In 1983 Ajay Mehta completed his studies and joined his fathers’ business.
Om Prakash moved on to establish another enterprise in 1987 doing fabric to fabric lamination like silk to flannel or cotton to cotton for shoe uppers using EVA for bonding. He developed triple fabric laminates for shoes, bags and accessories. Ajay comment “The laminates were very good and gave long life to the products they were used in. As a result of this in just one and a half year we were without any orders”. Therefore, in 1991/92 he decided to quit the fabric lamination business.

Setting up labelstock manufacturing

In 1993 he setup labelstock manufacturing facility SM Industries at Daman with the help of a 20”
width coater laminator running at just 15 m/min (49.21 fpm). The location was chosen because Mumbai was too expensive and moreover there were tax incentives available at Daman. It was difficult to run that unit initially because road conditions were bad. When the thought came to Ajay to also become involved in printing, his father would not allow forward integration because he envisioned that they would not compete with their customers. They initially made only sheeted materials and a lot of hard work went into making the unit a success.

This article is  exclusively written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India for Narrow WebTech Germany in January 2015 The article should not be used or published without the permission of Narrow WebTech Germany.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The life of a label-III

A close look into label creation and development

Booklet label for wine application

Part one of this series of articles referred to the general importance of labels and the second part picked up on the issue of the imperative, that the label design has to be a parallel creation when the package is being designed. The final deals with the converting process and how labels support the promotion and protection of brands.

The converting process
Creating a label is a designer’s job which requires passion and creative indulgence, but converting it to a label that will deliver the envisaged results of communicating with the consumer, is the job of a converter. If the designer has taken care of the converters capabilities and challenges, the result is close to being as desired. However if at the design stage the eventual converting process is not revisited, converting may become a nightmare and may call for more time and involvement to make changes in the design.
Let us consider a label that is not one of the regular shapes like a square, a rectangle or a circle. If it is like a star, a flower or an odd shape with sharp corners, it will be a challenge at the die-cutting stage and will greatly slowdown label conversion bringing up the cost of label production. In such a situation label dispensing may also become erratic. I am not suggesting that such shapes should not be considered, but if the product and its marketing warrant’s it and can support a higher conversion cost, it may even become a necessity to create such complex labels. Also when new products are created for a specific customer segment, the challenges in conversion speed sometimes have to take a back seat.
 Be very strong and bold in branding!
Labels are one part of the package that contributes to brand promotion. While the aesthetics and decoration of the label tempts the consumer, to impulsively lift the product off the shop shelf. It is the brand promotion in-built into the label that will bring customers back to make a repeat purchase. A product may have been created with lot of skill and effort and may also be the best buy for the discerning consumer. Its commercial success will depend not only on repeated purchases by the buyer but by his spreading the message by word-of-mouth to others about the product.

This article is a part of the three part series that was exclusively written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India for Narrow WebTech Germany. The article should not be used or published without the permission of Narrow WebTech Germany.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

RIP Hanumantha Rao, Founder Pragati Offset. My tribute!

Hanumantha Rao, the founder of Pragati Offset who passed away peacefully on the 2nd of March, 2015 was a man who grew from grass root level and became a legend in his lifetime leaving behind a legacy for his enterprise to excel in print and for generations to follow! The inertia for growth that originated with inception of the enterprise by him, has not only been carried forward by his two sons and grandchildren but has actually received further impetus from their passionate dedication to print. When I visited their home in 2011, it was indeed a very warm and eye opening experience for me. It was an ideal situation, with family bonding and respecting traditions. There, I found the true meaning for, “Athithi Devo Bhava”(The guest is like GOD), this; from the respect that the family bestowed upon me and my son Pawan that evening. I too come from family owned business but this was class! Four generations in the same room in perfect unison. Hanumantha Rao’s grand children were playing around while I enjoyed the evening with him, my friend; his son Narendra Paruchuri and his grand children. Hanumantha Rao took immense pleasure in telling me that his great grand children accompanied him to the press some afternoons after school. This was amazing foresight this man had, motivating the fourth generation as well. I am always sure that this enterprise will stay indebted to its founder in laying the path to continuous growth and excellence by personal indulgence!
On the 1st of September 1962, Hanumantha Rao who after completing his BA Hons. (philosophy), a short stint as a journalist with Visala Andhra and five years as manager of Sarathi Cine Studios also doing small roles in films out of which some even with the late N T RamaRao, set up a small printing press with one treadle press and three workers. The three men that he employed were a binder, a composer and a machine man. Surprising as it may sound two of these men are still associated with his company even after almost 50 years, though only in advisory capacity.

Hanumantha Rao had some basic knowledge of printing from his time spent at printing detective novels written by his friend Narayana Rao in Chennai. Also he was a quick learner and does not shy from saying that he learnt and grasped well from his otherwise trained workers. He fondly remembers the first job he printed was a folder with Ganesha on it! The first big order that came his way was the 1973 voters list. Thereafter it was always the way ahead to be traversed and soon he bought his first offset press, a second hand single colour OM-4 Russian Offset Press. He vowed to be a quality producer and set standards that would be the way forward for his company. The foundation had been laid and the journey into excellence in printing had begun. It was time to induct more working hands in this business.

The ensuing generations of this family are not resting on their laurels, they strive hard to retain the saga at Pragati, “Winning awards for print excellence, is a way of life for them!”

Author: Harveer Sahni, Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi March 2015