On the 2nd of February 2019, India’s largest indigenous labelstocks manufacturer Ajay Mehta led SMI Coated Products Pvt. Ltd. headquartered in Mumbai celebrated their 25th year of existence, in grand style. Over two hundred guests who were shown their impressive factory were in awe of what they saw and felt proud that their industry mate could set an example of success impressing the mantra; “Make in India”! The event also exhibited the typical Punjabi will and firm resolve to work hard and find success even while starting from scratch. Ajay’s father Om Prakash Mehta suffered the first jolt of leaving home in Multan, now in Pakistan, empty handed he came to Delhi after the partition of India and then moved to Kolkata where he set up his print lamination business. He had settled down well there with business growing when the second jolt hit him, once again he had to leave everything in Kolkata due to the turbulent days of Naxalite movement in the 1960s. Leaving behind all that he had made he with his family moved to Mumbai when his son Ajay was just 10 years old. Om Prakash Mehta was a very brave man and took all the adversity in his stride and moved on in life. He re-established his print lamination business as S M Plastic Industries in Mumbai named after his wife Shakuntala Mehta. In 1983 Ajay joined business and they started fabric lamination but when the business stopped growing the Mehtas decided to quit that business and establish a new business in 1993 producing self-adhesive labelstocks in their new enterprises S M Industries which was later renamed SMI Coated Products Pvt. Ltd.
They started production with a 20inch coater. Ajay Mehta, his son Rohit, wife Swati and daughter in law Saloni. All contributed their efforts in growing SMI to where it has reached today. Ajay and Swati’s daughter Nikita, after training in vocal music in USA is pursuing a career in singing also in USA.
For the 25th year celebration SMI invited the virtual who is who of the label industry to showcase their manufacturing facility. The outstation guests were all put up in the iconic ITC Grand Maratha Hotel. On the 2nd morning multiple groups in different buses were taken to Ambernath for factory visit. Earlier in the preceding days they had arranged for the local label printers of Mumbai and surrounding areas to visit their factory.
The event was extremely well managed so that smaller groups were taken around for a one-hour factory tour so that everyone got a chance to visualise and understand the capabilities and manufacturing as well as quality control systems employed by them. On arrival the guests were first given an impressive presentation of SMI’s journey, achievements and awards. SMI has been recipient of over 20 domestic and international awards.
The factory is set up in a 25000 square meters plot with a 13000 square meters shop floor. With seven coaters; two hotmelt adhesive coaters, two acrylic emulsion adhesive coaters, two silicone coaters, one recently installed tandem coater and a host of finishing and material handling systems they consume 1350 tons of paper each month to produce 100 million square meters of pressure sensitive labelstocks per annum.
The Tandem coater recently installed is capable of coating silicone and adhesive in-line in a single pass with automatic turret reel changing for continuous production.
Eight story motorised movable stacking system helps the store material with optimum utilisation of space. An ERP aided workflow ensures smooth storage and movement of materials from receipt to despatch.
Well-equipped laboratories for testing and quality control of both inward materials and finished goods guarantees delivery of perfect quality material in each reel supplied to their 200 customers spread in 22 countries. 50% of SMI’s turnover comes from exports that constitutes over 300 SKUs offered by them.
Besides the Ambernath factory they also have a stock point and slitting facility in Dubai, UAE. The father son duo of Ajay Mehta and Rohit Mehta, with their dedicated team of 225 team members work tirelessly to achieve a steady growth rate of 15-20% per year. Commenting on the future Rohit wants to consolidate strength and expand into new areas of self-adhesive materials. While they see potential in exports of their products, yet they intend to cater largely to the Indian market which with a large population, is growing at a fast pace. More so in the face of a fast-growing organised retail spreading into remote parts of the country.
On the evening of 2nd February 2019 SMI arranged a gala dinner for all the visitors who came to share the celebrations of SMIs 25 years of growth. Speaking about the future prospect of the Indian Label industry Ajay Mehta says, “Label stock materials is a highly technical field with high turnover and low margins.
Global players need to work together to improve the financial health of the industry.” He further adds, “The Indian Label industry is poised for quantum growth. This needs to be fuelled well with better margins. Intense competition should be handled by creating innovative solutions, instead of just indulging in a price war.”
Ajay took time to honour and felicitate his team at SMI.
It was a memorable moment when Ajay called his mother to the stage and recalled her contribution towards the growth of their business over the years.
Suppliers and customers too spoke on their appreciation of SMI’s journey in the past 25 years.
Besides investing and contributing to social causes, SMI has also been an ardent supporter of the India’s Label association LMAI, Label Manufacturers Association of India. They have been regularly sponsoring LMAI events promoting fellowship and networking in the industry and supporting technical seminars for the benefit of members. In a magnanimous gesture Ajay Mehta has agreed to provide space in his Ambernath facility for setting up of a LMAI training centre for operators and a lab for providing testing facilities to LMAI members.
Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi February 2019