In 37 Years, The Most Important Lesson I Have Learned Is – Perseverance Pays

Tex Tech Industries (India) Pvt Ltd. was started in the year 1975 as a partnership company in Coimbatore, by Late. S. Srinivasan to manufacture spare parts for cotton combers. It was the first company to manufacture new nipper assemblies in India. His son, S. Malligarjunan, Managing Director, has added many more firsts to the list. Proud to be making in India, he shares his experiences of how he has made a global footprint in comber spare parts. And his son, M. Eshwar Srinivas, Executive Director, Tex-Tech Industries (India) Pvt. Ltd., has recently joined his father to take this legacy forward, bringing in futuristic materials and technologies in comber spare parts. Excerpts of an interview with Reena Mital. What new are you showing here at India ITME 2022? Tex-Tech has been specialising in cotton combs for the last 45 years. Today, we have a good reputation worldwide, as a reliable spare parts manufacturer for cotton combers. We also upgrade 2nd and 3rd generation combers to the latest 4th generation combers, so that valuable noil is saved and production rates increase, improving cotton spinners’ quality, productivity and competitiveness. Besides showcasing our latest offerings and services, this time we have launched combs for linen, flax and jute. Today, a mill using this fibre has to import the uni comb or top comb or brush from Germany, Switzerland, Japan or Italy. We have now ventured into this segment, with quality offerings. To what extent have you helped in import substitution with your combs and other products? We started making in India many years ago, venturing into the manufacturing of circular and top combs. These combs were usually imported from Switzerland, Germany and Japan. Tex-Tech is the only other company that is making these in India, matching the best in the world. We enjoy a good market share globally. We achieved this with a lot of hard work and perseverance. In those initial years, we supplied a lot of combs to spinning mills, they conducted trials for 3-4 years, and once they were happy with the quality and consistency, we started getting good orders. How did you convince those first few companies to try out your products? We are basically a service industry. When we started upgrading the combers of the spinning mills, we also wanted to maintain their combers in perfect condition throughout the year. So we struck AMCs with these mills. And this helped them gain confidence in our expertise and our company. But changing the mindset is not so easy. Tell us about some of your experiences here. In 37 years, I have learned only one thing – Perseverance Pays. In 2003, we exhibited our products first time in ITMA Birmingham. We had the opportunity of meeting with some Egyptian companies. And our agent in Egypt took us to his country to meet with potential customers. I visited one of the largest textile companies in Egypt, a completely integrated composite unit with spinning, weaving, knitting, processing and dyeing, garmenting. The MD was a 72-year old gentleman, a textile technologist, with vast experience. He asked me about my work, and I said I upgrade combers of 2nd and 3rd generations to the new versions. He did not seem convinced, or maybe I did not communicate clearly. He was almost on the verge of dismissing us. I asked him if he could spare one minute of his time. He said - `I have all the time in the world provided you talk sense’. The reasoning in my head was that we both are technically sound – he is a textile technologist, I am a mechanical engineer specialising in machine designing. So on a piece of paper I drew the nipper geometry of the 2nd generation combers and the 4th generation combers, to explain to him what I was doing. His next question was - `What is your plan for lunch?’. It was my perseverance, my expertise and knowledge, my confidence in my machines that helped me convert that one minute to a lunch meeting, to eventually a strong and mutually beneficial business relationship. Eventually, this company placed some very large orders with us. It’s been 17-18 years, and we continue to enjoy a strong business relationship with them. Today, we enjoy a 50% market share in Egypt. Another difficult market to break into was Argentina. All their machines come from Europe and US, India is nowhere on their list of suppliers. Mindset and language, both were a barrier for me. I did not have an agent in Argentina. I hired a translator and travelled around the country. I met the owners and directors of various mills, and eventually struck some good deals with big companies there. Today, they have confidence that Tex-Tech is a good supplier. There have been similar experiences in other countries, with successful results – Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Uzbekistan, etc. Today, 40% of Tex-Tech revenue is from exports. We are also an OEM supplier. Your take on B2C and OEM business? Both have their advantages, and both are much needed. Supplying direct to the customer helps you to gain better understanding of your product’s performance, where improvements are needed, what challenges are faced by the spinner. To elucidate, when we do the upgrades of the machines in various mills, the requirements of each mill are quite different. Some customer needs higher speed and productivity, another customer wants to reduce wastage, others want quality improvement. So we have been able to make our kit as a three dimensional version - PQY – Production, Quality, Yield. So our kit got fine-tuned with supply to different customers, and to different countries, that process different varieties of cotton. So we supply the same kit, but finer aspects of the kit, of the retrofit, are fine-tuned for different counts, processing different cottons. OEM is also needed. It’s proof that my product performance is world class. And when you are an OEM supplier, the value you get with the customer is totally different. Your reliability increases even further. So, both are important. Which of your products are you really proud of? Ciruclar combs and top combs – it took us almost 10 years to develop the perfect technology. Circular comb project we started in 2000. And we could come out with a good circular comb by 2011-12. It has been further fine-tuned for different models. There is no ready machine or equipment in the market for making circular combs. So we had to develop our own machine for this. I am basically a machine design engineer, so development of special purpose machines (SPMs) is my core competence, and it was a lot of hard work and perseverance to develop the right machine to make a superior circular comb, with consistent quality. We are proud that we have started exporting our circular combs not only to Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan, but also to the US. How do you compare in technology with conventional leaders? We have an excellent infrastructure and impeccable knowledge and expertise. So, we are not far behind the leaders. The reason I say that we lack just a wee bit is because the metallurgy is still not available in India. The metallurgy, the base material, steel alloy, the core – the best is still in Europe. But the process we have been able to master, to be at par. So, performance wise, we the best in the world. Circular combs from Europe have got a slightly better material finish, which helps avoid running-in period. Our combs sometimes need a running-in period. We are now developing coatings for the wires, where the running-in period is very, very low. And in this aspect too, we will be at par with the best, within the next one year. Besides offering world class performance, our combs have the advantage of price, and value for money too. Do you believe Indian TEI can be a strong competitor in world market? Indian textile engineering and technology is not far behind. We are at par, and in some cases even better. The mindset of the textile industry, in India, and globally, is also changing, there is more acceptance to Indian technology. Again, hard work, perseverance, R&D, investment – all this will pave the way to success for the Indian textile engineering industry.

'Bringing In Futuristic Materials In Comber Spare Parts'

You have studied in some of the best universities abroad. And you came back to a textile-related business, which is usually not attractive to the younger generation. So, what made you come back to India? Eshwar Srinivas: Tex-Tech was started by my grandfather, with whom I was very close. I want to continue his legacy further. Morever, I don’t prefer staying abroad. I love India, our people, our culture. How are you applying your education and training in composite materials, to textile technology? Eshwar Srinivas:I believe composite materials is the future, and my goal is to bring that into textile technology. One small contribution I think I have made is the new spool that we developed, made completely with composites. This has a number of advantages – the life of the spool has increased 2-3 times, composites offer better structural soundness, it allows us to tune the end product to our requirements. And the life of the machine itself has increased.

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