We must have heard it many times that in business, patience is a virtue that defines its success. But, listening to it from the horse’s mouth made a lot of sense and actually simplified the whole thing. While interacting with Mr. Ajit Gupta, Founder, and CEO, Ajit Industries, we got to know how continuous patience and an eye on the opportunity to innovate can actually make a lot of difference. Commonly referred to as the ‘Tape Man of India’, Mr. Gupta talks about the business challenges and current market scenario and explains why the new-age entrepreneurs must practice patience to make their business successful. Here are the excerpts.
RM: You are known as ‘THE TAPE MAN’ of India. Can you please share the story behind this?
AG: Driven by a passion for bringing change, I am an entrenched optimist who believes in being a leader in its true spirit. I am a law graduate from the University of Delhi and an Alumni of Harvard Business School, my wealth of experience spans over 30 plus years in the adhesive & adhesive tapes industry. With my assiduous and earnest work, I have successfully transformed a small trading company into a professionally managed esteemed organization.
A colossal number of years of my life was dedicated to building the reputation of Ajit Industries which is synonymous to a pioneer in adhesive tape industry in India owing to which I am known as THE TAPE MAN of India. I have always put attention to details in my work. All my belief systems are religiously inculcated into my life and business. There has always been inclusion for people to walk along in my success journey. We value each soul associated with us and I strongly believe that there is a bigger purpose to what we all are spending many of our waking hours on. Even though the tough terrains of life I have never ceased wearing a smile on my face. I believe in being happy and generate the same. Our work environment has a culture of laughing out loud and dancing freely twice a day, which empowers and keeps us energized.
RM: How would you describe yourself and your role at AIPL? What inspired its creation?
AG: People see me as a born leader. Few of my leadership traits are to aspire and lead my team members to excel in their profession, and to provide them with opportunities that make them exercise their potential and hidden strength to the best.
In 1982, my father fell ill and it took the better of our life, to take a grip of our situation I took over the family business; due to which I lost a year of my education. But, besides putting my shoulders into the wheels, I still could not bring much of a difference in the growth of the business. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant state of life and I wouldn’t have settled for less. I don the hat of a winner. My mind was searching for new avenues to explore in business, and my yearning landed me on to a new product “Car Window Films”, this product was new to India at that time. I was in my salad years of life, barely 18 years old and with a limited budget of 10,000 dollars in the pocket, I traveled to the USA and got a contract from an agency. Bagging the contract gave me a kick, I could smell the possibilities of success. I worked day in day out as an ardent Salesman, Trainer, Manager, and a Buyer as well. The first year was not very fruitful but in business, patience is a virtue and I held mine tight! I traveled across India to create the need for the product amongst the customers; for not just cars but also for building glasses by providing an economical substitute for tinted glasses. In the following year, the wages of my patience paid me off with Success & Profit. With this breather, I could now re-think about completing my education and to cater to my passion for studies, I joined an evening college for law (3 years) post commerce graduation.
Through the ups & downs of life, I successfully established Ajit Industries, manufacturers of tapes and die-cut solutions (200+ types of industrial tapes), which deals in best adhesive tapes and die-cut solutions. As on date, our total group size is 400+ staff with factories in Sonipat, Mumbai & Chennai.
RM: That’s a very inspiring story. Put some light on AIPL’s Journey. How has it been through these years?
AG: As we might all agree that the only one thing constant in life is the “change” and I always believe in changing for the better, adapting to the new technologies, new ideas and by embracing the change we transformed our company to the next level. As on date, AIPLis one of the pioneers in India engaged in manufacturing and marketing of various types of Pressure Sensitive Self Adhesive Industrial tapes and Die-Cuts. The success was not accidental but fruits of our hard work and well-planned marketing strategies put into action by our efficient team members. Incorporated in the year 1998, I started with a team of 15 people with a vision of being a leader in tape Industry.
In 2000, our first production unit in Kharkhoda, Sonipat was settled with a manpower of 64 workers being certified as ISO 9001-2000 as the tape manufacturing company and signed our very first contract in Automotive Industry with Mothersons and Hero Honda for various tapes like PVC Tape, Masking Tape & D/S Tapes.
In 2005, installed our own coating plant with a vision of best manufacturers of tapes in India. In 2008, being first tape company in India installed our high speed automotive coating machine and increased our product range for tapes such as D/S Polyester Tape, Aluminium Foil Tape etc. installed one latest imported multipurpose coating machine, we also have a fully automatic slitting machines with the capacity to slit narrow widths as well as manual slitting facilities and increased our product range for tapes such as D/S Polyester Tape, Aluminium Foil Tape, etc. Also, we developed our in-house Research & Development Lab in 2011 with Stringent Quality Control Department. Moved to a bigger workspace in 2010 at Netaji Subhash Place, New Delhi as our Head Office and in 2015, the second manufacturing unit started in Sonipat.
In 2017, we got IAFT Certified to work in our new improved system as per Automotive Industry Standards. Also at the same time, started two more manufacturing units at Mumbai and Chennai keeping bigger infrastructure in mind along with advanced technologies. In 2018, started our own exports for business expansion at a rapid pace especially in the Middle East Region. We are manufacturing & marketing various types of Pressure Sensitive Self Adhesive Industrial Tapes & Die Cuts with 400+ staff spread across Industry Verticals including 40 plus sales staff Pan India.
Recently, we tucked yet another feather in our cap by bringing the legendary Mr.Kapil Dev onboard as our brand ambassador. He is the face on all our communication designs for various products.
RM: What steps do you take to maintain the quality and innovation of your product?
AG: Innovation is an essential ingredient in building a successful commercial venture. Quality and innovation go hand in glove, we never stop exploring with these two components. “Quality and Innovation” are the fuel to our business.
Definition of quality is well etched in our system. Being the no. 1 tape manufacturer in North India, our one big moto is that we adhere to “commitment to quality”. Our quality decisions have never been situational, rather our end of month quality is the same as the beginning of the month. Standards are set and the manufacturing is matched with it. In our organization, we train workers at all levels to look for ways to improve quality and to ameliorate problems. Training takes on several dimensions and at several verticals, we invest in our people hugely. Each product is taken through the lens of quality by our dedicated team.
RM: The adhesive market in India is continuously growing at an incessant pace. Are there any specific challenges you’ve found?
AG: The wind blows everywhere, the manufacturing sector, like so many other sectors, is also facing increasing regulation and compliance measures. Health, Safety and waste management are all in red tapes. It is undeniable that these regulations are essential. Keeping abreast of regulations and managing compliance reporting is an ongoing challenge. However, at AIPL we not only abide by the rules but have come up with environment-friendly products (tapes and WAT Dispensers etc). Our team stays ahead of the new rules and innovates accordingly.
RM: In the current market scenario where the construction sector is experiencing some slump, how do you plan to keep up your growth path? Are there any expansion plans on the card for the company this year?
AG: I understand the concern and in answer, there may not be extensive construction work happening in India these days but, our business model majorly works on renovation areas and not on the new construction. We are thankful to God for all our blessings. Yes, expansion is always welcome in our company, if we see scope for the same, we will take action immediately.