SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Monday, December 26, 2016

Kimoha Dubai, continues to bring excellence to Xel-lent and beyond!

On February 25, 2012, I posted a story on Kimoha Entrepreneurs Ltd. lead by Indian entrepreneurs Vinesh Bhimani and Kiran Asher. The amazing path traversed by them and their commitment to grow the company with support of an inspired team has made me update their story to current level and post it yet again.

Under the patronage and in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, the DubaiChamber of Commerce and Industry successfully concluded the eighth cycle of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award, by honouring 20 companies during an award ceremony held at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena in Dubai on 27th of July 2015. One of the two awards in the Manufacturing category was presented to the leading label printing company in Middle East Asia; Kimoha Entrepreneurs Ltd. lead by Vinesh Bhimani and Kiran Asher of Indian origin.

Vinesh Bhimani’s Kimoha Entrepreneurs Limited, Dubai, UAE is a shining star amongst label
printing companies run by Indians in Middle East Asia or for that matter by anyone outside their homeland. His persistence and commitment to succeed has enabled him to bounce back to success from extremely adverse circumstances. With over two decades of relentless effort and dedication, he created his label brand “Xel-lent”. He achieved perfection by creating labels and print packaging products that would stand out in the market place. During my visit to his facility, I was overwhelmed by the way he accorded a welcome (which I gathered is a customary practice whenever any of the company’s stakeholders or important guests visited); All the TV monitors in the company (there were quite a few), had a welcome message for me apart from announcing various awards received by them. Chairman Kiran Asher has been honoured by the President of India at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (A day for Indians living abroad) at Jaipur in January 2012.  Carrying the hospitality further, my picture (commemorating my visit) was taken and gifted to me in an elegant folder along with customized gifts. He has experienced success and rejoices the fruits of bringing excellence to “Xel-lent” and also to all the businesses and operations at Kimoha.

Whilst Vinesh Bhimani’s  grandfather lived in Africa working for a private bank in Zanzibar,
The very first telex roll machine
his  father preferred to return to India and set up shop in a free and independent India in 1947-48.  Nizamabad in (AP) India became the family’s base and in partnership with his uncle bought a rice mill.  They did not meet with success and lost all that they invested, in a year’s time. However they were persistent and restarted a small floor mill (Atta Chakki, as they call it in India). This venture, by virtue of their hard work prospered to become a successful rice mill! In 1962 Sanjiva Reddy, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and later the President of India, conferred upon this mill an award for safety. 1970-71 saw Vinesh’s father parting ways with his uncle and in conjunction with his own brothers (whose responsibility became his after the demise of Vinesh’s grandfather) taking over the management of the rice mill. Vinesh then still young and attending school during the day would spend his evening and nights in the rice mill.

Vinesh graduated in Commerce from Nizamabad, and his father crafted different plans for him. He did not want him to join the rice mill, instead wished that he would take up the offer of RRL Jorhat, (Regional Research Laboratory) to use their technology to manufacture carbonless paper.  The seed for his involvement with Paper was sown and necessary equipments ordered from Kolkotta by the family.  Meanwhile Vinesh was sent to Mumbai for a one month management course. He was to stay with his uncle (mother’s brother). The uncle was the fifth generation from a family that was heading the 146 year old large and respected trading firm Khimji Ramdas, based in Oman. Vinesh’s uncle made him an offer to come to Oman but his family was ready to start the carbonless paper unit in Nizamabad. Unfortunately the equipment failed to perform and they lost all the money they invested into this project.

At this point of time Vinesh was sent to Oman to get a “feel” of things before returning to Nizamabad
and start something else there. That was 40 years ago and he never returned to settle down in India. Vinesh had joined Khimji Ramdas as a trainee and left at the post of a General Manager in 1988. From Oman he came to Dubai and with the experience gained in Oman he, with his brother in law Kiran Asher, started a trading company. They made their first deal of importing Turmeric from Hyderabad, India and exporting to an Iranian customer against a post dated cheque. The cheque bounced and they lost most of the money invested! Whatever stock of turmeric was left with them was brought by them and stored in a Jebel Ali warehouse. As luck would have it, that night, a water pipe in the shed burst and they lost all that remained. Vinesh Bhimani was a devastated and embarrassed man. He blamed himself for his brother in law and partner Kiran having lost money. He offered to sell his house in Mumbai to repay Kiran. Perhaps God had other plans for Vinesh. Kiran asked him to stay on and wait to let things settle down, they decided to stay together. It was now time to start “Kimoha”.  Briefly they started packing food items but soon shifted to manufacturing telex and fax rolls.  It was a humble beginning with a machine made by his uncle in Nizamabad. Nostalgically Vinesh reminiscences that they participated in an exhibition and Sheikh Mohamed, the current ruler of Dubai, visited their stand and asked them if they manufactured these rolls in Dubai. He then advised a big stationer accompanying him to buy from them. For many years this stationer remained one of Kimoha’s biggest customers. Business began to grow with exports to many countries and Vinesh started to travel extensively.  During his travels he would be fascinated by the baggage tags, each time he would check in at the airlines counter. He would study the tag at length and vowed to produce it one day. He went to Japan to visit suppliers of thermal paper as also to learn about the product. It was a matter of time now, his mind was made, “he would manufacture the baggage tags and self adhesive labels”.

Mike Fairley and Vinesh Bhimani
Vinesh Bhimani went to the first Labelexpo that was held in Brussels and also attended the presentation made by the international label guru Mike Fairley. All this effort was made to learn about the products that he intended to produce one day. He had a voracious appetite to acquire knowledge about the products that he intended to indulge in. At Labelexpo, machine suppliers were wondering who this man from UAE was and what all he was talking about. He was a new entrant and wanted a label press to have features that were not for beginners. He wanted a 24 inch repeat and three die stations, etc. Little did they realize how focused this man was. Before the show ended he was decided on the configuration of the press, it had almost everything on it, the repeat he wanted, print stations, turnbar, sprocket hole punching, fanfold, etc. It looked expensive but when he called his partner Kiran Asher, the answer was in the affirmative. Kimoha was on way to success.

Initial hiccups were normal. There were no operators so Vinesh had to go to India for recruitment. In 1995 Kimoha got their first contract for baggage tags from Emirates Airlines but with a rider attached. They were warned that if they do not deliver they would have to quit UAE! All appeared to be going smoothly when a nightmare struck, the die got damaged on line and all hell broke loose. They rushed a person to UK by the next flight and return immediately after collecting the die. They delivered and kept their commitment. Kimoha has not looked back thereafter.  At three Labelexpos thereafter, they kept buying new presses one after the other. With just two employees in 1988 in an 18 square mtr office, Kimoha has come a long way. They now operate out of a 20,000 square mtr brand new facility at Jebel Ali, Dubai. The factory is immaculately clean and systemized. They operate with 13 flexo label presses and one digital press alongwith a host of other finishing and converting equipments having capabilities for hot-foiling, Embossing, online numbering and applying registered holograms. The total workforce at Kimoha is in excess of 300 employees. Kimoha offers a range of baggage tags, label products, flexible packaging and stationery. With a sales turnover of multi million Dirhams, their products have presence in more than 35 countries. Their presence in the baggage tags segment is very strong with supplies going to over 100 international airlines, airports and ground handling providers over the world.

Purnima Bhimani married Vinesh in 1978, she was by his side in business that day and she is still there in office daily supporting him actively. She takes care of finance and planning of the interiors at Kimoha. She has given her best to the growth of this enterprise. Their only son Jay is 21 years old and studying. Jay may join the family business one day but the parents feel it is too soon to say as young people are quite unpredictable. He may want to do something else. After all the family has a history of drifting in diverse fields. The great grandfather was a banker and the following generations drifted to Rice mill, Floor mill, International trading, Food packaging and on to Labels, Printing and Packagings. Kiran Asher, Vinesh’s brother in law and partner who has been his staunch support, is the Chairman of Kimoha. Vinesh’s brother Rajesh has also been with Kimoha for almost two decades. He is responsible for besides other things the house keeping at Kimoha. His work shows! The facility is amazingly clean. Vinesh Bhimani works hard and his team is like his family. He tirelessly communicates with them to instill family values. His staff sometime receives emails from him that were written at 3am in the morning. He took 267 people one day to visit Burj Khalifa, in an effort to deliver his message of aiming high and having higher virtues in life and to understand how one feels when one “At The Top”. Each day starts with the entire Kimoha family (the workforce) joining in morning prayers. At lunch they are served a high-end restaurant catered meal and are allowed some extra time to play indoor games before returning to production. Education of employee’s children, medical expenses, insurance, etc., is areas where the company supports its employees.

Kimoha has been honoured as one of the top 100 SMEs in Dubai in the first ever ranking initiative in 2011 and then again in 2013. 

In 2011;

  • They were in 38th rank in the overall top 100 SME companies in Dubai
  • 3rd in the top 10 SME in the INNOVATION category
  • 10th in the top 10 SME in the GLOBAL ORIENTATION (EXPORT)
  • 6th in human capital development

In 2013,
  • They were in 27th overall rank
  • 5th in innovation
  • 4th in human capital development
  • 15th in growth performance
  • 26th in international orientation
  • 34th in corporate governance

Kimoha has also been fortunate enough to be conferred with:

  • CSR Label from Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (3 consecutive years)
  • Leed Gold Certification from United States Green Building Council for Kimoha’s new state of the art office-cum-factory-cum-warehouse building.
  • Many international awards for printing excellence from FINAT, FTA (FlexographicTechnical Association, USA) etc.

Additionally they have the following attributes;
  • They are an ISO 9001 - 2008 certified company
  • 24 / 7 Air Conditioned Factory and Warehouse 
  • In-house Flexo and Digital Pre-press Facility – CTP
  • Laser labels produced from recycled label stock and packed in recyclable boxes when demanded so by buyers.
  • Converting photopolymer plates from 1.7mm to 1.14mm, thus reducing Carbon footprint by 17%
  • Ensuring that the new Premises meets the rigid green standards set by USGBA and EHS, viz. among other things, Over 900 tons Air Conditioning with aid of 410 A Refrigerant.  Minimal CFC emissions
  • Occupation and Movement sensors
  • Recycling 95% of plate-making solvent
  • Installation of LED light in office and factory
  • Ongoing project to install solar to run factory and office using 100% solar energy

When asked about his vision on what his venture will be in future, Vinesh Bhimani is pensive in his thoughts. He firmly believes that whatsoever is done and will be done in future, will only be according to the "Will of God". He says, “We are like robots operated by this Master sitting above all of us with controls”. 

Vinesh Bhimani is non-committal on what Kimoha will be. He firmly believes that he has to be doing something different and specialized. Kimoha will continue to expand and diversify. He wishes that his entire Kimoha family remains bonded together and involved in creating something special. Size is not what matters. The goal is, to be unique and achieve a status where the entire team has contributed, to bring excellence to Xel-lent and beyond and be the part of a global network!  “This is what we pray in a morning-prayer that we make with all our employees at our premises on all working days”, Bhimani concluded.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi exclusively for Label and Narrow Web Magazine USA (LNW) in July 2016.

Printing magazines may reproduce the story by giving credit to the author and to Label and Narrow Web USA.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Images from Labelexpo India!

My story on Labelexpo India held recently at the Expo Mart, Greater Noida, India some 37 Kms. away from the traditional venue, Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, will be published in the forthcoming issue of Narrow Web Tech, Germany. Meanwhile I produce images of the show as I saw it.

The LMAI stalwarts!

Delhi Priters Association President, LMAI President-Sandeep Zaveri, Hon.Secretary LMAI Rajesh Nema & Managing Director Labelexpo Lisa Milburn

The Show begins.
UPM Raflatac Stand

HP Stand

With Jakob Landsberg at the Nilpeter Stand
Digital Finishing Machine at Brotech Stand

Omet iFlex

Avery Dennison

FINAT Membership registration Counter at Weldon Stand

With Josep Roca-Bobst
Manish Hansoti- Zonten

Amit Sheth & team at Weigang stand

India's leading Label Press manufacturer Multitec

Kodak Stand
Xeikon Stand

Vetaphone and Lartec at Weldon Stand

India's Label association LMAI's stand

Flint Stand

The lighter moments!

The awards night:
Sandeep Zaveri President LMAI

Anil Sharma of Avery Dennison

Lisa Milburn with the packed house behind her.

Hemanth Paruchuri (Pragati Pack) with his trophy

Anygraphics team with the special Jury award

LMAI management team onstage with Labelexpo organisers


Delegates on the dance floor

The Mudrika team receiving their trophy from Marco of Omet

KD Sahni with Anthony Murphy of Flint

Compiled by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi, India. December 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Maharshi; Integrating forward from applicators into labels!

Rajesh Shah
Rajesh Shah heading the Ahmedabad based Maharshi Group with a conspicuous presence in the label industry, manufacturing label applicators and labels, is a deeply religious man with strong family values. Son of an eminent lawyer, Rajesh finished his mechanical engineering in 1976 and left for Germany to work for a contractor company having office in Germany and sites in North Africa. In 1978 while still in Germany, he was summoned by his family to return to India due to his mother’s serious illness. Being the eldest of the four siblings, they are three brothers and one sister; he felt that it was his responsibility to be home by his mother’s side in this hour of need. In 1979, Rajesh returned to India and soon thereafter got married and decided to settle down in Ahmedabad. His wife came from a business family, who was involved into textile machinery. While Rajesh was contemplating the way forward, he was suggested by his in-laws to try and get into engineering industry. He accepted the suggestion and started a business of manufacturing Stainless Steel Vessels, Process equipment and other needs of the pharmaceuticals, Cosmetic and chemical industry fabricated in a small set up  and supplying. The small size of the operation and slow progress soon made him restless and he started to look around for something that was bigger and more innovative with quicker turn around. Some friends suggested him to make conveyors, the idea appealed to him.  At this point of time he set up his maiden industrial startup venture Gopinath Engineering Company for fabrication of stainless steel vessels and conveyor systems. This brought him in touch with more pharmaceutical companies and he being a sharp observer was looking around for synergies that would support his venture. In the early 1980s he saw the opportunity come his way that would shape the way for his future growth. Ahmedabad based Core Pharmaceuticals wanted to install automatic Self adhesive Label applicators on their packaging lines but found the imported equipment way too expensive. Rajesh knew from the word go that this was his chance and he grabbed the opportunity. He offered to develop the label dispensers and applicators for them. To understand the product intricately, Rajesh left for Germany and visited Guhl and Scheibler AG, a company manufacturing automatic labelers. He also visited other similar European manufacturers to understand their technology. 

On visiting different manufacturers, he understood the technology in detail and concentrated on the best available. On return to India Rajesh developed his first label applicator and once it was successfully installed, there was no looking back!

The Labeling systems manufacturing facility is now a part of the Maharshi group and known as Maharshi Udyog. It is perhaps the largest labeling systems and applicators manufacturing company in India. This part of the group is operating in a factory with 100 employees on a plot area of 100,000 square feet and built up shop floor of 60,000 square feet. Another 90,000 square feet of land has been acquired adjacent to the factory for further expansion. Rajesh’s other brothers, Bhagwat Shah and Hiren Shah also joined in to manage the growing group. While Rajesh looks after overall activities as a Group Chairman. Bhagwat, a commercial person, looks after finance, administration and personnel and Hiren, a Mechanical engineer, looks after design and manufacturing at Maharshi.  Hiren’s brother in law, Jigesh Dani takes care of sales and marketing under the guidance of Rajesh. The next generation is already in business. Rajesh’s son, Harshit, a mechatronics engineer, is already actively involved in the group activities taking care of automation systems, sales and marketing. Bhagwat’s son, Dhrumil has completed his MBA from Nirma and is under training in sales and marketing.

Maharshi Udyog’s sprawling shop floor is a sight to witness. It has a huge number of machines in various stages of completion. The variety of equipment is so diverse that one remains in awe at the possibilities they have created for themselves. The range of products they offer is from simple label applicators to print and apply systems for variable data labels, incorporating barcode inspection, missing label detection, bottle neck inspection and automatic segregation. It is an amazing array of equipment that they produce. They are also entering into production of packaging machines that include machines for automatic filling, capping, labeling, carton erection, product insertion and whole gambit of automatic packaging. The unit is complete with design, electronics and quality control departments. The spare part storage is all meticulously systemized with computer support and it is easy to trace the spares instantly when a customer is in need. The whole process of customer service support is planned at the manufacturing stage itself. Since they cater to the food and chemical industry, most of the fabrication is done with recommended grades of stainless steel. The shopfloor is clean and systemized with workers widely spread out and working on the equipments allotted to them. All equipment on completion undergoes strenuous tests before the customer is called in for the FAT (Factory Acceptance Test).

It is obvious that on entering a new industry one has to ensure that proper raw materials are available.
Jigesh Dani and Rajubhai
In the 1980s Indian labelstock manufacturing was still in its infancy. Availability of labelstock in roll form was still scarce and not of the quality as desired. For this reasons the label rolls produced from them were also not as desired. The web when running on these label applicators would break due to improper punching or the matrix would keep breaking due to uneven release values. Most of the conversion of stock to labels was done on slow flat bed Japanese label presses. The release base paper availability those days was difficult and what was available had caliper variations causing erroneous die punching. Where the release paper was thin the die would not punch and the label would lift with the matrix and where the release paper was thick there would be a through cut causing web break increasing downtime and wastages. If the release was too tight, it was another nightmare with matrix breaking and its removal was a cumbersome exercise.  Silicone chemistry that time was still the old, which is now outdated, the tin catalyst curing system with post curing process. This always resulted in uneven release values causing problems in label dispensing on applicators. When Maharshi faced these problems in the late 1980s, they developed vendors who could understand their need for labels that would work on their applicators. It initially appeared to work but then due to reasons mentioned, while this problem was being attended yet another cropped up. The market for labelers grew and with it grew the demand for labels in roll form. Their preferred vendors could not deliver the desired quality in time. So that the applicator business does not suffer, a decision to integrate forward was taken at Maharshi to produce labels themselves. It was time to set up Maharshi Labels.

In 1995 the Shah family invested along with investments from Bhagwat Shah’s friend Rajendra Gandhi (fondly called Rajubhai) and Jigesh Dani to initiate the enterprise Maharshi Labels. Rajubhai was to look after production and Jigesh would take responsibility of marketing of not just the labels division but the entire Maharshi Group. From setting up shop in 1995 to 1997 they invested in 3-4 presses. These were the flat bed Onda and Changi presses. In those three years, as the population of their labelers grew, the Maharshi team realized that these slow flat bed machines will not support the growth in demand for labels. In 1997 they added a ten inch rotary flexo Acquaflex label press to augment their label production capacity. The decade of nineties and later, saw a sea change and growth in the label industry in India.  Flexo printing, plate making, inks and pre-press was evolving. Usage of self adhesive labels in India was on the rise. Automation in the packaging industry became not just a process but an imperative need to meet deadlines. Growth bug hit Maharshi. Between 1997 and 2012 they bought a label press every alternate year. They were a Mark Andy customer and when the MA-LP-3000 was launched, they bought it within months. Then the change of heart! They sold all the Mark Andy presses and one by one replaced them with Gidue’s. Today they operate with 5 Gidue (Now Bobst) 370mm label presses. They still use the old flatbed machines for the real short runs and as the duo of Jigesh and Raju says, we enjoy using them.

Lord Ganesha
It is traditional and almost all label printers, when they commission a new press, the first label they print is a religious label. Mostly it is picture of the God that they worship. This is to seek HIS blessings for the new equipment.  At Maharshi they follow this even today, each time they buy a new press, they print the picture of a deity. When I asked Jigesh if they had any nightmares, the answer was quite simple, “we are deeply into machine building and know how to troubleshoot. So we had no real nightmares!”  One of the earliest labels they printed was that of Vasmol, a popular brand. The most challenging and satisfying job till date remains the Signature whiskey label that needed to have micro embossing, foiling with three different foils and printing with special pantone shades. The job became extremely challenging because the customer, who was using their labelers, did not give any artwork. They just handed over a few labels to copy and produce identical. Accepting the challenge the Maharshi team developed a special multi-foiling machine in-house and imported the blocks from UK. The challenge was successfully met and brought immense satisfaction. Rajubhai and Jigesh continue to efficiently run the label enterprise with active support of the Shah family. Rajubhai’s son is a qualified chartered accountant and planning for some expansion in related products. 

Jigesh’s only son, Yash has no interest in the father’s activity, he is deeply into music. He is a fine Tabla player (Indian drums), who has entered the Guiness book of records for the longest Tabla playing performance. 

At the moment Maharshi’s expansion plans are under wraps. They have the space and resources to expand.  Maharshi Labels has the scope to expand and they have access to the market but the intense competition and shrinking margins makes them cautious. However still, the growing market size does confuse them, tempting them to consider producing to economies of scale and cutting down on wastages and increasing volumes. Their label unit operates from a land are of 50,000 square feet and a shop floor of 30,000 square feet with 70 employees. The total group turnover of the Maharshi is around 15 Million US Dollars. They have their hands full at this moment and it is a matter of time before they will divulge their plans for next expansion. As for their intention to foray into packaging, Jigesh says, “The day we can convert it on a web press in-line cost effectively, we will also be into packaging.”

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi India August 2016 exclusively for Narrow Web Tech Germany. 
The article maybe published with the permission of Narrow WebTech Germany giving credit to them and to the author
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