Friday, August 22, 2014

Vivek Kapoor: Creative Labels…the bottom line will guide!

Vivek with his ECS Label Press
Vivek Kapoor, Managing Director of Navi Mumbai based Creative Labels, is the current and longest serving President of LMAI (label manufacturers association of India). With his office in South Mumbai and factory some 40 km away in Mahape, Navi Mumbai, one is left wondering how Vivek manages to control his one man show and still find time for the label association and also indulge in an extremely busy lifestyle.  “I operate by delegation” says Vivek, he further adds, “If I have to be in the factory all day long then I would not be able to do anything else”. It is interesting to note that Vivek‘s mentor and a close relative Surinder Kapur was the founder President of LMAI. The large extended family of Kapoors has given two out of the four Presidents to LMAI since inception. The Indian label industry is appreciative of their contribution. In April 2011 I wrote about Surinder Kapur whose grandfather Lala Jai Dayal Kapur, with support of his friend Lala Karam Chand Thapar founder of Ballarpur Industries, started their paper trading business at Amritsar where they had relocated from Lahore after partition of India. Around the same time Jai Dayal Kapur’s brother Ram Lal Kapoor also started his business in paper trading with distribution agency from the then British owned Titagarh Paper Mills. Today the large extended families of both the brothers are spread in various cities around India and well established in paper and printing business. Pyare Lal Kapoor, one of the four sons of Ram Lal Kapoor had six sons who were, in typical Punjabi tradition expected to join the joint family business but one of his son Shashi Mohan Kapoor who had pursued education in chartered accountancy, drifted away from family business. Initially it was out of curiosity to try his hand in practicing he moved to Mumbai as big business was there and eventually with a successful practice in place, he never actively returned to the family business, though he remains a part of it even today passively. Shashi Mohan wanted his son Vivek to also become a chartered accountant and take over his well established practice but it appears the influence of cousins in business and the traditional Punjabi business traits of a large extended business family prevailed. Punjabis are people who hail from the north Indian state of Punjab. Vivek completed one group of in Chartered accountancy and also prepared for the 2nd group but never appeared for the final exams, because he knew if he did, he would have to be a CA like his father. He did not wish to take up that career as he feels, “it is postmortem of accounts”.
Shashi Mohan like any caring parent was a worried man, now that his son Vivek wanted to be in business. He was worried because Vivek did not have any experience. It was only his interaction with his large extended family that this decision had been made. Initially they toyed with the idea of going into textiles but the number of processes involved to reach a finished product was a deterrent. With passage of time Shashi Mohan started discussing with family and friends the options available. It was when he discussed with his cousin Surinder Kapur who was already in production of labels that Surinder suggested Vivek also make labels. Shashi mohan had been very close to Surinder’s father and also took care of their tax matters. He thought since he was in know of their suppliers and customers this would be unethical. Surinder and his father assured Shashi Mohan it was not an issue with them and they even took upon themselves to train Vivek at their Taloja factory, R K Papers. With this decision made, Vivek trained for 4-5 weeks at R K Papers and thus started his journey into the world of labels. Vivek and Shashi Mohan to this date are indebted to Surinder Kapur and his father Raj Kumar for initiating Vivek in labels. Vivek took to the label industry as if it was made out business for him, the online converting in a single pass suited his temperament and appealed to him immensely.
In 1996-97 a young 28 year old Vivek Kapoor setup his startup venture Icon prints at Navi Mumbai with a cousin as partner.  They bought their first label press, a four colour semi rotary Iwasaki. Yet, he was a novice in printing. When he went to show a printed sample to one of his earliest customer, the customer asked him to bring LSD. Vivek was stunned, thinking the guy was asking for some drug! It was eventually explained to him that LSD in print meant “Light Standard Dark”. Another nightmare happened when he was on the verge of losing a pharma customer as each time he printed, the colour would smudge. The customer wondered if Vivek could ever get it right. The solution when it happened makes him smile at how simple it was. Instead of printing orange first and then black, he printed black first and the problem was over! He was a fast learner and thereafter progressed to buy their second label press and this time an Etipole in the year 2000. Initial years were tough for Icon Prints as they started to sell plain labels which were sold mostly in the unorganized market and had to be competing with small timers who sold without invoicing on cash. The very first year they ended up with a cash loss and considered closing the business. It was only when they started to print and add value to their product that the venture started to look up. Vivek is nostalgic about his first label that he printed was for a multinational consumer goods company. At that point of time FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies were importing labels and winning an order against quality coming from foreign lands was a very satisfying accomplishment. Vivek further draws pleasure in being first person in India to produce labels for seamless tubes for packaging “Brylcream” as the brand owners were finding it difficult to print the logo, this started the trend of tube labels in India.
Ten years after starting Icon Prints, restlessness and differences between the partners started to surface. Vivek wanted to expand against the wishes of his cousin who was his partner. Expansion calls for additional investment and borrowings. Most of the time partnerships come under stress due to such differences. One would want stability and the other, expansion and action. Family differences also started showing up. Finally in 2007 the partners separated and Vivek quit Icon Prints to start Creative Labels Pvt. Ltd. at a 4500 square feet rented premises in Navi Mumbai with a new LR3 7 colour Iwasaki. This indeed was a turning point in his career so far. It was struggle from scratch once again. Giving up all that was achieved at Icon prints and building a new customer base after a gap of almost six months was like establishing his startup venture all over again. Ethically, Vivek did not want to start a business in parallel, while the partnership was in separation mode at Icon so it became all the more indulgence and hard work to succeed when eventually he started his new venture. He soon realized that if he had to bring success to his new venture, he had to adopt and accept technological changes and developments in narrow web label printing. Initially he expanded his startup by installing a Gallus EM 280 but as Creative Labels got a foot hold in the marketplace, Vivek recognized the need for a short web path in narrow web label printing to reduce wastages and reduce operator intervention and thus he decided to buy a Gallus ECS label press. Vivek like most of the other label printers feels digital will one day change the scenario but yet it is time to keep a close watch on the technology and the plunge will be taken at an appropriate time. According to him, one has to change with time. When asked where he sees himself and his company in five years, he says, “We grow as we grow. We make our efforts and growth will come naturally”. However end of the day the Chartered Accountant in him, inherited from his father says it all, “The bottom-line will be the guide”.
In 2013 Creative prints acquired an industrial plot close to their first rented factory and built it to accommodate their expansion. They now operate out of a total production floor area of 12000 square Feet 7500 in the new factory and 4500 in the old factory. They employ a work force of 60 employees and possess three label presses. Vivek’s family also has partnership interest in Kapco Prints (Offset Printers) at Chandigarh and Baddi (H.P.) in North India. It is interesting to note that Vivek’s father Shashi Mohan and his brothers, all the six of them are still partners in the printing business.

Shveta & Vivek Kapoor with Lisa Milburn MD Labelexpoat Goa
Vivek Kapoor, the only son of Shashi Mohan Kapoor, is an alumnus of Campion School, Mumbai. He graduated in Commerce from H R College also in Mumbai.  His wife Shveta is a unique pleasant personality, always seen wearing the best jewellery… a smile! She is essentially a homemaker. After completing her education in commerce, she pursued an advanced course in Jewellery design. After teaching for some time at the Indian Institute of Jewellery, she now designs jewellery privately. Their only son Vidur is a fine young teenager. Though Vivek insists that he does not see him as a label printer in the future but it appears Vidur is already there. Vidur is a part of every label event and is recognisable by most of the established printers.  We will leave the prerogative for his future to be his very own for this young man!
Vivek has taken keen interest in industry association and as the President of LMAI has been
instrumental in creating a unique platform for the Indian Label Industry, “The annual LMAI label conference”. I remember when the first conference was being organized at Goa, the kind of effort put in was gigantic and sitting at Mumbai, Vivek was coordinating all the time. Since I was a member of the managing committee then, I used to get Vivek’s call every other day. He would talk endlessly on the planning and my family would ask, “Does Vivek have a free mobile phone?”LMAI has successfully organized two conferences at GOA with global attendance from most of the reputed suppliers. The LMAI Conference is now declared to be held regularly every two years. Under Vivek’s leadership the members of the label association LMAI have been able to get subsidies on investments, on travel and participation in premier trade shows abroad like Labelexpo, from the Ministry of MSME (Micro Small & Medium Enterprises) Government of India. Vivek has also taken initiatives with support from leading industry suppliers to support schooling of operators for label presses. This is an area that is a cause of worry due to shortage of trained operators to run the high-end sophisticated presses. If his efforts succeed this will help increase the operator availability in India.
Each time I interview a leading label printer, I ask a question that is important for us and our environment. Given the fact that 50% of all the label material that label printers use, goes to landfills impacting the environment adversely, I wish to know the initiatives that they have taken in this direction. The question becomes all the more important in case of Vivek as he heads the label association. He has tried various initiatives with industry suppliers on waste management but success has been evasive. He says,” We firmly believe that it is for the better of future generations that we leave behind a cleaner earth. I will continue to find ways to implement systems and environmentally friendly production processes.”
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 India, July 2014

The above article can be reproduced by publications after taking permision and giving due credit to author.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Metro Label Toronto:‘Green’ firm marks milestone 40th Anniversary!

This is a very interesting story of an Indian Sandeep Lal and his family from Allahabad, a city in the most populous North Indian state of UP. They left India after having lost their business and travelled to foreign lands where they worked their way up to glory from scratch! I wrote about Sandeep Lal President Metro Label in Canada  in April 2009 for a magazine, but somehow it escaped my attention to post it on this blog. Metro Label is now a celebrated company headquartered in Toronto Canada. Recently they celebrated their 40th anniversary which was covered by the world press. I reproduce first the article printed in newspaper "Toronto Star", a link to the video on them and then the article that I wrote on them in April 2009. 


 At the last labelexpo in Brussels 2013 many of our Indian label printers attended a dinner at my apartment alongwith Sandeep, it was a fun evening when we cooked ourselves and exchanged stories of our inheritance and the way forward. I also reproduce one of the pictures of that evening.








‘Green’ firm marks milestone 

Scarborough’s Metro Label completes rebuilding job after being hit by U.S. economic woes

 As one of the country’s leading label manufacturers Scarborough’s Metro Label has a lot to celebrate as it marks its 40th anniversary.

AARON HARRIS/TORONTO STAR Metro Label president Sandeep Lal, left, vice-president Nandini Chaudhary, Curran Chaudhary in charge of marketing and design, and chairman Narinder Lal are part of a family business that has become a top player in label manufacturing.
 
The company, which Narinder Mohan Lal founded in the family basement in 1974, has blossomed into one of North America’s top players. In addition to the main 132,000 square foot Progress Ave.-Hwy 401 facility, the 180-employee firm also has locations in Vancouver and Napa Valley.They produce pressure sensitive labels for a wide range of consumer goods, including internationally known cosmetic and liquor brands and the private labels of big Canadian grocery chains.“They have a very good reputation as progressive and eco-friendly manufacturers; and a tremendous reputation for customer service,” said Canadian Packaging magazine editor George Guidoni.
“The label market is roughly a $35 billion market worldwide, but there are hundreds of label printers around the world trying to get a piece of that market, so they do have to be competitive,” said Florida-based packaging strategist Michael Ferrari, founder of Ferrari Innovation Solutions LLC, who lauded Metro’s “culture of innovation and constant renewal.“There are mergers that happen all the time in this industry and obviously they are strong enough to stand on their own rather than either going under or having to sell out. Mergers and acquisitions have been rampant in this industry in the last four years.”
The family business, which transitioned from wholesaling to manufacturing on the strength of a $15,000 machine in 1976, realized exponential growth in the 14 years ending 2006 when revenues peaked at $63 million. The firm’s holdings include a golf course and residential development in Panama where they are considering launching a label business. But there have been hiccups. Business fell when the economic decline, price deflation and competitive pressures forced the 2011 closure of a fourth location in Montreal.“The U.S. recession cost us a lot of jobs; many of our customers got acquired which also cost us business,” said Sandeep Lal, who took over as president from his father in the early ’90s. “In the last two years we’ve grown our business by 30 per cent again. We’re climbing up to where we were and to get past that.”
He identified growth areas as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and beverages, more so than supermarket perishables — meat, deli, bakery — which once commanded as much as 85 per cent of their output.
The offerings have also expanded to include glue applied labels, seen on water bottles; mould labels which are part of the container like on detergent containers; and shrink sleeves typically found on beverages.Differentiation is tough in such a competitive industry, noted Lal.
“Being green was one way to do it and the rest is all about service; and today price is also important; it never used to be,” he said. “We’re trying to be more efficient in manufacturing with newer product lines that can operate at higher speeds and then produce lower waste.”But there’s no compromise on environmental aspects. The 999 Progress Ave. HQ, completed in 2005 for $13.5 million, was designed to cut energy use and emissions. Among the initiatives: rainwater is collected to flush toilets; the use of waterbased inks instead of solvent-based inks; and exhaust from printing machines is filtered to heat the building in winter. The firm is currently awaiting building permits to install solar panels on the roof.“We wanted a green plant because we wanted a good place for our employees to work,” said Lal, 59. “It may sound corny but as an entrepreneur I feel I’m responsible for the health and welfare of the people that work for me, that I have a responsibility to them.”The eldest of four children, he dropped out of university to work with his father who had been a pharmacist in India, but couldn’t get similar employment here.
“As immigrant families we all arrive here and you want to somehow get to a point where there’s some financial security for the family. I remember late at night when my parents didn’t think I could hear them talking about how the bills were going to be paid this month or next month. “Those are difficult discussions to hear. You make choices to be part of the solution. For me working in the business rather than continuing in my studies was being part of the solution.”
Narinder, 85, comes in for an hour or so each day. He signs cheques, mingles with the staff and lights incense. His daughter Nandini Chaudhary is vice-president and her son Curran Chaudhary, who joined the company full-time in January, oversees marketing and design.
“Time will tell whether he has the skills and the motivation and the determination, but definitely it would be good if he does,” said Lal of the recent graduate and only member of the third generation at the firm.Curran, 23, has been pushing Metro’s online presence through social media, search engine optimization and Google advertising.“I want to see how it goes; obviously I’d be more than happy to continue the legacy but it depends on what’s best for all of us,” he said of his tenure.
His grandfather’s daily visits are a constant reminder that “hard work is everything; and determination and perseverance are enough to achieve anything.”


http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/08/14/metro_label_40th_anniversary.html 

What I wrote in 2009:



Recession or slowdown…it is time to innovate!

In 2002 I was on a trip to Toronto, Canada and had the opportunity to visit Metro Labels, owned by my friend Sandeep Lal. It was an impressive factory with a huge investment, latest presses and a great setup, producing an equally innovative and awesome product range. One of the many labels samples he gave to me was an interesting shampoo bottle label. On the very face of it, it was a very normal looking well printed and decorated label. It had all the statutory information, along with good branding on it. The interesting part is that it had a small diagonal half-cut on one of the top corner. Once a user had bought a shampoo bottle having such a label on it and had placed it on the counter in the bathroom, the user could lift the corner and peel off the top layer of the two layered label. With the top layer came off all the commercial information and the branding, leaving behind a nice bottle having a label with just a good looking floral design on it, nothing else! It served the need of such users who did not wish to make their private domain an advertising space for the manufacturer of toiletries. This maybe an issue for debate on label related laws but the point I am making is the innovation involved. Such endeavors appear to be the need of the hour in the present market conditions.
At this point of time, recession is hitting the global economies and making adverse impact on industry. In India it is cautiously being referred to as a slowdown. The economic figures being reported for our country do not put us into that category falling under the definition of recession. Fortunately our GDP is still showing positive growth. However still in the present circumstances most printers, press suppliers and industry suppliers maintain a restrained optimism on revival of the markets. It is a situation that generally appears after a bout of rapid growth and expansion. I would term it as time for consolidation. There was a spate of investments in label presses during the last couple of years much beyond what had been invested in the preceding years. This seems to have led to a state of overcapacity and fierce competition. When you look back and assess the situation, you are left wondering if it is really the recession or the slowdown or the after effects of growth in installed capacity which happened because of the euphoria of inflated projections of the rate at which the market was expected to grow. Anyway, it is time to consolidate. Label printers at this juncture should use the opportunity to innovate and use the full capabilities of their equipment to develop new products that would add value for them as well as for the users.
From being a country where traditionally labels were printed on conventional flatbed presses, we have seen the gradual shift to rotary flexo printing. Lately printers have indulged in high-end combination presses with a variety of advanced printing, decorating and converting capabilities. Ironically many of them have not exploited the full potential of their equipment. This is so because of their imperative need to break even and keep their machines running. In such a situation they continue to produce the same labels that they were producing on their older equipments. Now when it appears that they have a little time on their hands, they need to indulge in development and innovative products that will give the much needed profitability adding to their bottom lines. At the time of the last LMAI Label Awards, we noticed a vacuum in many segments of the label industry. While there were a lot of entries in the letterpress and flexo segment but when it came to offset there was only one company for all the awards. The case was same in the booklet label segment and the ultimate was when there was no entry in the electronic label segment and the award was given to a company who made a pioneering investment in an HP Indigo label press to produce labels in roll form. Evidently there is still room for investments in new segments as also the need for new products. It is time printers invested in new research and developments and spent some quality time quality time with professionals involved in packaging product development to create innovations in labels.

In the beginning of this column, I mentioned my friend Sandeep Lal of Metro Labels, Toronto, Canada. It is the success story of an Indian who travelled to foreign lands and worked his way to glory. Long years ago, Sandeep helped his father at their chemist shop in Allahabad, UP. Being the only successful and reliable chemist in that area, their business was good, growing and flourishing. Many smaller shops tried their hand in the same business but never succeeded in competition. They were envied by those who wished to copy their success but were unsuccessful. Then came a day when a protégé of a local politician managed a complaint against them and they were raided for drug law violations. Their business was sealed and they had to fight it out for six months before they could get to reopen their shop. Meanwhile the damage had been done! The competitors had firmly established themselves. The Lal family was dejected and disgusted, they just locked up the shop as it is and left for Canada to try their luck in foreign land. That was sometime in the early seventies. They started by selling labels sourced from other label printers. They worked hard to make their business grow and eventually started to produce labels themselves.  The first flexo press that they had used was displayed as a show piece in their reception area when I visited them. They have since moved to a much larger facility which has to its credit a host of awards.  By far it is perhaps the most impressive label factory setup in recent times. The unit has been recognized by the city of Toronto and TLMI in 2007, FTA and Label Expo in 2009 for environmental leadership awards. The company now ranks amongst the largest Label companies in North America and the largest producer of pressure sensitive labels in Canada. Recently they have been recognized as one of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies for 2005, 2006 & 2007. They have taken over other units and are now operating from many locations. With Sandeep Lal aggressively heading the company, Metro Labels continue to grow and make worthwhile acquisitions. I wish more and more Indians work hard to take their companies the Metro label way!

Written by Harveer Sahni in April 2009

Story collated by Harveer Sahni Managing Director weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi Indian August 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hansol Paper (South Korea) acquires Telrol Group in the Netherlands

Hoessein Hadaoui
Some years ago Hoessein Hadaoui of Telrol and I were in an inconclusive discussions for a deal to supply self adhesive paper to Telerol. Thereafter he visited us at the Labelexpo India and we have been friends ever since. 











At the last Labelexpo in Brussels while I and Dean Scarbrough, President & Global CEO of Avery Dennison were congratulating Tomas Rink, Chairman Ritrama, on his receiving the Life time achievement award, Hossein almost ran across to take a memorable picture of us. Then last year Hossein, while informing his expansion  plans also expressed his desire to consider investing in India. Yesterday he sent to me the following press release;

Hansol Paper today announced the acquisition of the shares in Telrol B.V., a European leader in self-adhesive labels from Telrol Management B.V. The founder  ( Ton Jacobs ) will leave the company for retirement and Hoessein Hadaoui will remain CEO / part owner of the Group. Together with the Schades Group which Hansol Paper acquired in September 2013, this additional acquisition will create a one of kinds in the servicing of POS receipts and self-adhesive labels for the retail business across Europe.
Mr. Sang-Hun Lee, CEO of Hansol Paper: “The objective of this acquisition will be to enter into the fast growing label business and to ensure Telrol’s further growth with Hansol Paper’s experience and core competency. To strengthen its business portfolio,  Hansol Paper became the first Korean paper manufacturer to enter into European market after acquiring the Schades Group, a European market leader in POS  thermal paper converting and label manufacturing.  As its future business plan, Hansol Paper aims to grow its label converting business to its core business all along with the paper converting of the Schades Group.”   
Hoessein Hadaoui, CEO of Telrol Group: “This acquisition will enable the company to further strengthen its competitive position and become a part of a significant pan-European group, as well as Hansol’s competitive advantage and high quality standards will strengthen our position. Our growth strategy will include large scale national and international acquisitions in the label industry and the current employees will be retained and new opportunities for job creation are part of the future growth strategy”.  
Peter Møller, CEO of Schades Group: “The acquisition by Hansol will clearly strengthen the competitive advantage not only for Telrol but surely also for Schades and with the two legs in POS paper and Self-adhesive Labels, Hansol Paper will become one of the leading and most progressive partner for the European retail business. It will surely be beneficial for all parties; customers, employees and shareholders”.  About Hansol Paper Hansol Paper is the largest subsidiary of the Hansol Group, which was spun out of the Samsung family in 1991. Having operated for 50 years, Hansol Paper is Korea's largest paper manufacturing company with annual revenue of USD 2 billion and total assets of USD 3 billion as of Dec 2013. Hansol Paper has made vast amounts of plant and equipment investments and now has become a global top 3 thermal paper manufacturer.
Hansol Paper is capable of annually producing approximately 2 million tons of Printing & Writing Paper, Duplex Board, Container Board, Specialty Paper, Thermal Paper and several other types of papers. 
Hansol Paper has successfully grown to become a global paper manufacturer. Hansol Paper exports more than 50% of its products world-wide. Its mid-term goal is to generate sales revenue of USD 3 billion by 2016 through differentiated products and services.
About Telrol  The Company was founded in 1995 with its headquarter based in Almere, the Netherlands. The Telrol Group comprises of Peha Labels, BioLabel, HACCP Label, LMG Ribbons, Kolibri Labels and Q-Tronics, and  is the market leader in the Benelux in self-adhesive labels. It services the markets for food, retail, cosmetics, pharma, home and personal care, logistics and the chemical industry.
Leveraging years of experience and an extensive range of converting machinery, the Telrol Group has the flexibility to succeed in these markets. The Group operates on a national and international level. 
The Telrol Group now employs 230 people and features over 60 printing and converting machines and virtually unlimited technical possibilities. 
About Schades The company was founded in 1916 in Skive, Denmark where it is still headquartered. 
Schades Group converts thermal paper for its customers, including receipt paper rolls for cash registers and self-adhesive labels and enjoys a market-leading position in Europe and with a unique customer base including; retail, office stationery, distributors in food and non-food retail as well as logistics. During the past many years, Schades has invested heavily in production facilities, and combined with a strong local presence in the major European markets this has enabled the company to build competitive strength. Schades Group manufactures its products and serves customers from highly advanced factories in Germany, Denmark, the UK and France. The company also has sales offices in Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Belgium. 
Currently, the combined group of Telrol and Schades represents an annual turnover of approximately EUR 150 million, employs more than 400 people, converts approximately 1 Billion square meters of paper annually and has offices in Germany, Denmark, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden.
Video's about the Hansol group are available on our website www.telrol.nl or at The Labelmakers Group YouTube channel. 
For more information, please contact:

Hoessein Hadaoui, Telrol Group CEO        Peter Møller, Schades Group CEO 
Hoessein@Telrol.nl                                     pm@schades.com
Tel: +31 (0)6 51458997                               Tel: +45 28 45 19 20
Web:        Web: www.Telrol.nl                     www.schades.com 
Hansol Paper www.hansol.com/english/ www.hansolpaper.co.kr/eng/