|Marks Emballage factory at Baddi
In May 2018, the Indian label fraternity was amazed to read the news of an upcoming relatively young label company Marks Emballage announcing the confirmation to buy two Gallus Labelmaster presses in one go. This one step would take this nondescript label manufacturing company into the big league. The author has been in the Indian label industry for over four decades. As far as memory recollects, there have been instances when two presses have been ordered by printers to be delivered one after the other with a gap of time, but the unique instance of two presses to be delivered and installed in just one go is a first one such occurrence so far, this is history for the Indian label industry! By rough estimates, a 4 billion Dollar labels industry (not label stock but finished labels) growing at an average of 10-15% per annum surely needs such investments regularly to meet the 400-500 million Dollar growth in demands of labels. Leading Mark Emballage, Aadtiya Kashyap, a former international banker, is the courageous one who made his foray into the Indian label industry and announced his first significant expansion investment with a bang.
|Aaditya and Khushboo
Aaditya was born and brought up in Mumbai, an Alumnus of St. Xavier’s School Mumbai (He prefers to call the city Bombay as he has called it all his life). Later he finished his graduation from the prestigious Ruia College, Mumbai, in Mathematics. He had considered a career in computers and did a couple of courses in that, but he graduated in the subject since he was good in mathematics. While in Ruia college, he fell in love with Khushboo Singh, who was pursuing BA in the same college. After a courtship lasting almost five years, they decided to tie the knot and got married in 2008. After graduation, Aaditya got his first job in the international bank J P Morgan, where he worked for the next seven years. This job was a good learning experience in how systems in business work and how different departments work. He was the only one in the organization at that time who got four promotions in seven years. Those were many learning years that added to his experience. Looking back, he is happy that he worked there, as the experience has been helping him when in business.
Aaditya’s wife Khushboo belongs to a successful business family involved in pharmaceuticals, so it was a matter of time that his In-Laws prompted him to consider entrepreneurial options. The suggestions ranged from indulging in pharmaceutical products to items connected to pharma. Khushboo’s grandfather Samprada Singh took it upon himself to mentor Aaditya. Samprada Singh, the founder of Alkem Laboratories, had a significant influence on Aaditya. He was a true visionary and an impactful leader whose life was full of beautiful lessons of courage, resolve, hard work and indomitable willpower. His journey from a tiny village in Bihar to establishing India’s largest pharma company is just an extraordinary one. His life story portrays the old English adage, “From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks.”
Initially, Aaditya spent time in Alkem Laboratories to learn various aspects of the pharma business. First, he spent time with the purchasing team before moving on to “Doctor’s gifting”, a concept that was a contact-building and promotional cum marketing exercise undertaken by pharma companies to stay connected with doctors. A year down the line, he moved to Galpha laboratories owned by his Father-in-law N K Singh taking care of the same portfolio of doctor gifting until a government notification limited the scope of “doctor giftings”. At this time, he faced another change of job profile or considered another line. In his time spent with the purchasing team at Alkem & Galpha, he had gained much knowledge about packaging and its nuances. Khushboo, being born into the pharma business family, was a natural fit to take up professional responsibilities. As business was in her blood, she joined her father’s company, GALPHA which she had joined immediately after college in 2004-2005, primarily taking care of production planning, purchase of packaging and raw materials. The circumstances, as they evolved, led Aaditya to consider making a foray into packaging.
Meanwhile, Aaditya and Khushboo decided to move to Baddi to set up a pharma unit extension of GALPHA, manufacturing formulations. Aaditya’s experience as a banker kept bringing to him the realization that if two people are doing the same thing, then the output is restricted. He started looking at some other venture. His brother-in-law Dr J P N SINGH (Khushboo’s sister’s husband), who also is looked upon as a mentor by Aaditya, was making pet bottles, suggested label manufacturing and that, eventually led him to decide on labels. JPN had prompted, “all the bottles I make will have labels made by you on them”. His father-in-law NK Singh and grandfather Samprada Singh all agreed that labels were good business. So, in 2011 the decision was taken to set up a label manufacturing unit. The initial two and half years were spent trading in labels, outsourcing them from different vendors and supplying to group companies. During this period, he spent much time with the printers at their factories, getting the right kind of labels and in the process learnt the basics of label manufacturing from prepress to plate making and finally converting. He is indebted to Datta Ram Fulsundar of Aarya Printpack – Mumbai, with whom he had confided about setting up his unit, yet the printer agreed to teach and train him all about manufacturing labels.
Since Aaditya had made up his mind to invest in a label press and print labels himself, JPN mentoring him on, suggested; that to test the heat, one should check with just a finger touch before putting your hand in, meaning start the operation at a tiny stage and go thereon. In November 2013, Aaditya, with his wife Khushboo as a partner, launched their maiden startup venture, Marks Fine Printers in Baddi Himachal Pradesh, in a 2000 square feet industrial shed with just one Chinese stack type flexo label press. While Khushboo continued to look after GALPHA Laboratories Baddi, Aaditya got full time into setting up the label unit. The first order, even though it came from a family-owned company GALPHA laboratories, the experience was, as Aaditya says, “Exhilarating! It was like scoring a maiden cricket century.” For the next two years, they catered to family-owned pharma companies. The biggest challenge was getting the suitable operators and people to run the press but then time elapsed, which has taught him to manage that. 2 years after initiation, Aaditya seemed to have tested the heat and confidence, invested in a Bobst label press. Once the operations were well set, it was time to get customers beyond the family companies. The natural step was to rope in companies that were contract manufacturers to the group. Subsequently, they ventured out to service customers outside the family reach, initially it was all pharma as they had much experience in the segment, but later, they got into all segments like Food, FMCG, Liquor and others. He remains indebted to the four mentors that including his father. It is their advice that made this possible. Aaditya always wanted to be like his father, who taught him; “The name that you earn, always has more value than the money earned”. Walking on his father’s footsteps, Aaditya has ensured a good name for himself along with setting up a successful business. Once established, it was time to get experienced professionals in and systemize the whole operations. They looked around and slowly got their team together.
|C K, Aaditya with Ferdi and Sameer of Gallus
In packaging requirements for pharmaceuticals, the size of labels is relatively small, but when Aaditya started to look at other segments, the label size was much bigger, which meant that with the same inputs and infrastructure, the costing would be different, turnover would grow bigger. This was an exciting realization, and the vision to expand started getting more precise. Initially, Aaditya had planned to add a press every three years, but this new realization prompted him to grow exponentially. He established the new company Marks Emballage Pvt. Ltd. in 2018 to invest in two Gallus label presses in one go. Hoping to make a substantial impact in the Indian label industry with their big move, however, as luck would have it, they started printing on these two presses in April 2020 when the pandemic hit across. Covid has been a difficult time for Marks Emballage. The first few days were a mixture of too many different feelings inside, from the fear of the unknown, concern for employee’s safety, responsibilities to serve the customers. Despite the uncertainties, they gathered themselves and planned to navigate through the difficult time. This was possible only with the total dedication of their team, who put up great courage and kept the business going and growing. They realize that going into the future, leaner companies and more automation will be the way forward. Cloud technologies, robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality combined will reduce human physical contact and dependence. This will be the biggest shift for all businesses and Marks is no exception. This goes on to validate their investment in the right equipment, processes, certifications, and team.
Besides having residence in Mumbai, Aaditya and Khushboo now stay in Chandigarh with their 8-year-old daughter Kiara. While they complement each other in work yet look after different businesses. Marks Emballage Pvt. Ltd. is a fast-growing company headquartered at Chandigarh and operates out of factories at two locations in Baddi. The plant is spread over 30,000 square feet and equipped with some of the finest equipment like print kits from Gallus, Bobst, AVT, Prati , Pantec and Xrite. A team of 60 people is creating a work culture of excellence. Talking of new ideas and projects and the vision for the next five years, Aaditya says, “We have too many ideas to implement. I am working on many exciting new projects in technology, consumer products, packaging, and pharma. We aspire to roll out at least one new project every year for the next five years. This is the time for us to spread our wings before getting into a consolidation mode in 5 years.
|CK Gadhia of Marks giving student of year awards
The journey has just begun”. Marks Emballage has, as a part of its CSR initiative, invested in sponsoring the annual “Printweek Student of the year” award. They are very keen to backup educational initiatives for encouraging the new generation to take up print as a career.
As he plans his way forward in the label and packaging field, Aaditya makes a fervent appeal to peers, “I would like to appeal to all the fellow label printers that we should all work with better collaboration and work with each other rather than work against each other. Together we can have great strength to backup print education to ease our recruitment needs, have complimentary print technologies to avoid idle capacities, and have a better say in purchase or sales negotiations. The advantages are just many. It is time to team up and grow the industry together. We need to increase the overall pie. While we are all doing the basics of waste management today, the need of the hour is to attack the problem from the very base. We are studying and closely following linerless labels and believe that they can be a game-changer for our industry. As per industry reports, only 5% of the laminates and self-adhesive label stock is reused or recycled. This area demands our closest attention.
Marks Emballage is a company to watch, as an ambitious team aspires to grow 10-fold by the end next five years. With a young, dynamic leader like Aaditya Kashyap at the helm, hoping the pandemic’s after-effects soon end, this company will be moving fast to achieve targets and move tangentially, investing in technologies in synergy.
Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2021