In essence of exports Processor Essen Speciality Films is a rarity in the Indian plastics industry – it not only exports most of its output, it is also helmed by a woman, which in a male-dominated industry is a pleasant change!
ccording to the Indian Plastics Industry Vision 2012 study, conducted by Mumbai-based infrastructure advisory firm Crisil and sponsored by the Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment, one of India’s weaknesses is its heavy reliance on polymer output, thus negating the value of processed plastics. The report says that India not only exports a negligible amount of processed plastics but that the exports are of low value. Essen is working towards changing the above scenario. One of the pioneers in the Indian sheet extrusion industry, it makes 14 different types of products, including table/ place/drawer mats, shower curtains, food containers, trays for packaging fruit and meats and disposable and foam plates as well as signages and banners.
Printing is done in-house for most products except for the table mats
About 95% of its output is for the export markets and it counts major multinational retailers like H&M, Ikea and Office Depot in its customer base. Having etched a success in supplying these multinational companies, Essen says it has been accorded the Best Supplier Award over the last two years. Driving the performance of Essen is Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, who started her career in the industry 13 years ago selling sheet lines for Indian extrusion machinery maker Rajoo Engineers. Speaking to PRA recently, Lakshmi says her fascination with sheet line products sealed her fate to becoming the CEO of Essen. “I have The company counts large retailers as its customers, making products like placemats
OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2011
Essen plans to expand its facility to cater to its new project for PET punnets
gone from selling to buying lines from Rajoo,“ she said candidly, explaining that Essen is a subsidiary of Rajoo. Lakshmi is amongst a new breed of women CEOs in India who are changing the face of the corporate scene. According to a 2010 study conducted by international search firm EMA Partners, which covered 240 big corporations in India, only 11% of Indian companies are headed by females. And Essen has gone on to tap the female talent further, by employing three female directors and a majority of female workers, an uncommon set up in Rajkot, Gujarat, where the company is based and certainly not a common phenomenon in the plastics industry. But carving a presence in the plastics industry has not been a tough task, according to Lakshmi. “We have had no problems dealing with (male) clients and business partners,“ she says, adding, “It is because of our professional approach and the open-mindedness of the industry.“ The feminity aspect does play a part in the company’s business. A year back it started producing expanded polystyrene (EPS) sheet (Rajoo produces the machinery in India, in a collaboration with US-based Commodore). “Essentially used in food packaging, PS containers have become a lifestyle in India,“ said Lakshmi (who better than a lady to know this!). With 100% of its capacity sold already, the company is acquiring a third line to beef up its output. Other projects include the manufacture of PET punnets for grapes, to capitalise on the fact that India is the single largest producer and exporter of grapes (with 40,000 tonnes exported in 2009). A large proportion of the grapes are grown in the Nasik district in Maharashtra (in 2010 there were around 13,000 grape growers in Nasik who contributed to 95% of exports). The punnet manufacturing will be taken over from Nasik-based thermoforming machinery maker Wonderpack
Plastics and Rubber Asia October-November 2011 electronic issue