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January 17, 1999

4 Min Read
Bursting at the seams


Production is growing so fast at Alkon Plastics
in Mumbai that boxes and materials are
stacked everywhere, even outside.

Alkon Plastics Pvt. Ltd. of Bombay (Mumbai) is a growing company. Its success has a great deal to do with Alkon Plastics' virtual monopoly over a fast-growing domestic market in India--office supplies. Alkon Plastics manufactures its own product line that includes office filing and storage systems, stackable trays and bins, containers, organizers, and computer accessories. It sells its products either through a network of more than 80 stockers all over India or directly to larger customers, and it is aggressively pursuing export opportunities. Meanwhile, it has a 70 to 80 percent share of the domestic market for such products--products and markets new to India. Alkon Plastics is enjoying an annual growth rate of 30 percent, and average annual sales are around IRe 80 million (US$ 2,240,000). Business is good.

However, sometimes, business can be a little too good. Alkon Plastics is growing so fast it is running out of room. It ships trucks filled with boxes of its products two to three times a day, but there are filled boxes everywhere. There are boxes on the mezzanine, in hallways, in the courtyard--even in the lift. And, where there are no boxes, there are bags of PS, ABS, PP copolymer, and other resins waiting to be moulded into more products to go into more boxes. But the two Marwaha brothers running the company have no intention of slowing down.

They run advertisements and exhibit at regional trade shows through their stockers. They put out somewhere between 200 to 250 mailers a day, from which they receive a "very good response." They are even building a website on the Internet to investigate the usefulness of the new media in promoting their attractively priced products to the world market. "I never refuse any order. You grow by order booking," says Trilochan Singh Marwaha, managing director.

Starting out in the early 1980s as an offshoot of a company that manufactured stationery products for offices and schools, Alkon Plastics began to introduce its innovative lines of professional office products just as the liberalized Indian economy started to boom and create the need for such supplies. In addition to Alkon Plastics, the Marwahas also operate two other companies in their crowded West Bombay industrial park: Alkosign Display Systems, makers of products like display boards and nameplates for the desk; and Marwaha Investment and Trading, which sells planters and dustbins for the office. Altogether, they operate six plants and employ 150. The plants are run in three shifts, 30 days a month with no holidays. One of the plants was once robbed during a holiday shutdown. The Marwaha brothers say they do not intend for that to happen again.

Alkon Plastics runs four moulding machines, ranging from 75 to 300 tons, from DGP Windsor India and Niigata. They run them around the clock, in fast cycles, performing two or more mould changes a day, and using some 25 tons of resin a month, 70 percent of which is usually PS. Scrap ranges from 1 to 2 percent per year. The scrap is ground beside the press and immediately recycled. Mastip hot runners are used, though Alkon Plastics is designing its own. It employs five mouldmakers and builds most of its own tooling in a dedicated toolroom in one of its six plants. "It is very important that we build our own moulds. Production cycle quality depends on mould quality," Marwaha says.

Computers keep track of all inventories and accounts, and a colour coding shipping system is presently used. More sophisticated technologies, like barcoding, will come into play as the company continues to grow. It will grow, as the demand for office products intensifies with the economy's development.

The Marwaha brothers intend to specialize in office supply products and resist diversification. And they intend to pass along any benefits in productivity gains and possible excise tax reductions to their growing global customer base, keeping the prices of their products attractive. Everything seems to be falling into place . . . everything but space. They are actively shopping around for more real estate.

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