Published On: Tue, Sep 7th, 2010

Mr. Mahesh Shroff

mahesh_shroffGood Morning, today we have Mr. Mahesh Shroff of Novex Poly Films Pvt. Ltd. with us.

Plasticsinfomart: I would like to start with your background first, little bit about your educational background, from where you started till where you are today?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: I am a chemical engineer from UDCT, 1966 batch and then I went to USA for my masters in chemical engineering. I worked in USA with what was then known as an American Cyanamid. It was a big chemical company that time. And in 1971 I came back. We had several family problems. I never went back. I was looking to put up a small scale industry, because at that time, everybody thought of an industry and people without any resources had to settle for small scale. Looking around I found NOCIL people promoting small scale industries basically in PVC products. From there I started on my own. Our family members were basically Textile Traders, and business was not doing well. We had incurred heavy losses. So then I started this manufacturing unit in 1971. And I started with PVC Layflat tubings. But that product had lot of limitations. So, over the years, I slowly ventured into PE blown films manufacturing. I was manufacturing my products in Mumbai and in 1988 I shifted to Daman. So from Daman, the growth was faster. And today we have about 8 blown film lines, seven monolayers and one multilayer, about ten bag makers, one flexo printer and several accessories. Now we have three units in Daman.  

Plasticsinfomart: You started as an entrepreneur, what made you thought and plan your own venture?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: In 1971, jobs were hard to be found, because industry had not grown to any substantial extent, or were offering very poor salaries. I did try in couple of companies, but I found that this is not sustainable because my family by then had got out of textile business and we had serious financial issues. After meeting NOCIL people and going through a few meetings, I found that this is interesting as well as this was something where high investments were not required. We didn’t have money. So how do you start an industry? It has to be small and it has to be within limits. 

Plasticsinfomart: So what are the sectors of plastic you serve particularly?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: We are not into PVC anymore.. We are mainly into what are known as polyethylene blown films & related products. Specially, low density, linear low density and high density polyethylene films and we cater to several industries, mainly pharma, chemicals, textiles, few engineering, food industry, pesticides and all those. Our main products are polyethylene liners , bags, shrink films & some speciality films which go to the industry. We have no consumer products like shopping bags etc. We only cater to various industries. We now have stretch films also. We have food packaging films and related products.

Plasticsinfomart: Would you like to shed some light on key hurdles you faced to reach this level of success?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: The key hurdle in the begining was finance. No doubt about it. Secondly, the biggest hurdle that I would say, was the lack of manpower in the family. I was all alone. And not being able to employ people, due to financial restrictions I found that in the beginning the growth was slow.. And third issue was the marketing. I think that production is relatively easy, but to create market, to create customers, to meet their demands and to meet their expectations, were the real challenges. These issues take years, before you can say that, yes, now we have a business model which is self growing, customers keep coming, you make profits, keep investing and you grow. It takes time. But then, my son joined, 9-10 years back, since then I have found that things have been better.

Plasticsinfomart: How big is the size of PE blown films in India and what all are the geographies covered by you?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: Blown films started in a very crude way of manufacturing. I remember, we just used to make Layflat tubings but we did not pay much attention to the quality aspects, made bags and sold. Today it’s a very precise science. There are very sophisticated applications in blown films. Food packaging films have opened up a vast field &  various other speciality films are manufactured with close tolerences. Plus the agricultural field has opened up.. I don’t know in terms of the volume but it is one of the biggest polymer application fields, if not the biggest. You can judge the size in terms of turnover by noting that in a town like Daman, there are more than 200 units which are manufacturing blown films. So you can judge that in India there must be around 7-8 thousand blown film manufacturers and each must be doing an average business of at least 50 metric tonnes per month. More reliable numbers can be taken from Reliance and HALDIA people.

Plasticsinfomart: Do you think that growth in Chinese plastic Industry will have any effect on Indian Plastic Industry?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: I think they can have effect in standard products where it is not custom made. Like say what we keep calling “Jhabla Bags”, it is a standard product. Chinese can come and capture that type of market or say “ziplock” bags; they are standard more or less. There they can come and capture the market. But as far as we are concerned, we make products as per the customer’s specifications. So I don’t see in near future how China can come in this type of market.

Plasticsinfomart: Do you believe that global economic slowdown as experienced in last two years has impacted Indian Plastic Industry?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: In between, I think there were couple of quarters, let us say last quarter of 2008-09 and the first quarter of the 2009-10, where we felt the slowdown. I think the largest impact was during that period. After that it recovered slowly. And probably, we see a normal business today in terms of volume. Growth, we have to see now.

Plasticsinfomart: So do you think the impact was mild, low or high?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: I think it was quite mild because only two quarters we suffered. I don’t know how to relate those two quarters, with the American meltdown. But two quarters, say six months, it’s not very strong impact.

Plasticsinfomart: Do you think Indian government is taking good enough steps to support the Plastics Industry in India?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: I don’t know their angle, I understand Plastic Industry’s angle. They have rightly raised the environmental issues but without understanding the implications on the industry. They have created hurdles in “jabla” market, and now as we read newspapers, they are now creating hurdles for plastic pouches, which they find environmently unfriendly. Their measures for small scale industries or say medium scale industries, are not percolating down to the industry, in terms of easy finance availability, lower interest rates, some setup where they would help the small industries to market their products. I don’t see them. Much more remains to be done to help the small scale industry.

Plasticsinfomart: If anybody would like to start a business in plastics, what are the three applications of growth you would like to suggest?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: In plastic film segment, one of them is stretch film by cast film process, second is the geo-membranes and third is the agri-films. These are the three applications which a new entrepreneur can look at.

Plasticsinfomart: Can you suggest what kind of financial capability will be required to enter these businesses?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: All of these will require high financial investment; there is no doubt about it. But if I have to give you a right amount, I have to make a study but it must be above Rs. 5 Crore in plant machinery.

Plasticsinfomart: But this is still large investment as per small industry terms, what do you suggest for small entrepreneur?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: Stretch film can be started by a small scale manufacturer. He may not go for the cast line. He can go for the blown film line. That has a good future. And in agri-films he can manufacture mulch films which I believe would not require very high investments.

Plasticsinfomart: Would like to share any thumb rules which can make or break success for any entrepreneur?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: I would now definitely say one thing, that he has to develop his business model in such a way that he should fall into the growth mode. It may be small, medium or big. He must see to it that somehow he must fall into growth mode. And when I say growth mode, I mean the assets, those assets have to produce profits, and from those profits his further growth has to come. He cannot keep borrowing money all the time and keep on growing. That is going to be very expensive for a small scale entrepreneur. He has to create profits in his own organization and grow. But he must grow, he has no alternative. In today’s market I don’t see he has any alternative. But this is a subject by itself. How he falls into a growth mode is a subject by itself. This interview cannot cover it. But we can discuss about it later.

Plasticsinfomart: If you would like to suggest a change for the Plastic Industry of India in current scenario, what it would be?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: If we talk specifically of blown film industry, I think, the unhealthy competition by trying to slash the competitors selling price, this is something which I feel is wrong. And again, when you talk of growth, this will relate there. Because by cutting selling price, you are not getting any growth. Yes he can compete, at some point of time if volumes are large enough. This is a fair game, but he cannot just say that because his price is X let me reduce it by 5% and I sell my product. This is what is happening, so they are under cutting. This is one thing I would like them to realize.

Plasticsinfomart: What is your vision for Plastic Industry of India in 2020?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: Before we talk of 12-15% of annual growth, I think there is a large enough market. We keep saying that per capital plastic consumption in India is around 6kg and even China has 20kg per capita consumption and western countries have much more than that. This one thing clears that there is a tremendous scope and the very fact we see that double digit growth we see in the plastic industry, so we can just look at this scenario and tell ourselves that the markets are there. It is for us to capture that market and keep growing. There again we come to the same word ‘growth’.

Plasticsinfomart: Any message you would like to share with your clients?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: We are constantly trying to improve our quality standards. Our own service factors and we are trying to give a reasonably priced product. I would like to emphasize here that we are not there to give them a cheap product. That is not something which will sustain us or which will help them, because the cheap product will not have the quality matching. So, we are trying to give them quality products at reasonable rates and in time frame so that they can appreciate that our services are good. So we would like to grow with them in this way.

Plasticsinfomart: Any message you would like to share with the stakeholders of Indian Plastic Industry?

Mr. Mahesh Shroff: In plastic industry, I have been there for 35 years and I have now come to believe that there is enough growth and there is enough profit. So do not worry about the volatility in the market today in terms of raw material prices and all that. If you focus on growth, there is enough scope to grow, make profits and reach levels that only you can decide for yourself. This is the message I would like to give.

 

Thanks a lot sir, we had Mr. Mahesh Shroff of Novex Polyfilms Pvt. Ltd. sharing his views on Blown Film and Plastic Industry of India.