SMI Coated Products celebrated its 25th anniversary with joyous industry support and enthusiasm on 2 February 2019 in Mumbai. Apart from the stellar celebration in the city, bus loads of visitors were ferried to the SMI labelstock factory in Ambernath. This was a celebration of the entire Indian label industry which has come into its own in the same two-and-a-half decades – a landmark for the family-owned company and the larger Indian label industry family that have supported each other.
The SMI factory in Ambernath is built in a 25,000 square meter plot with a 13,000 square meter factory footprint. Seven coaters including two hot melt adhesive coaters, two acrylic emulsion adhesive coaters, two silicone coaters and a recently installed tandem coater together with a battery of finishing and material handling systems consume 1350 tons of paper each month. 100 million square meters of pressure-sensitive labelstocks are now produced each year.
The modern logistics at the SMI factory rely on an 8-story automated stacking system with optimum utilization of space. The ERP-aided system ensures smooth material movement from receipt to despatch. Well-equipped labs for testing and quality control of both inputs and finished materials is key to a quality system that touches 200 customers in 22 countries. SMI’s turnover is 50% from exports of over 300 SKUs.
SMI also set up a storage, slitting and supply facility in Dubai a couple of years ago. Led by Ajay and Rohit Mehta, the company which is growing at 20% annually employs 225. The story of SMI is one of persistence. A family business, the company has faced the many challenges and constraints of an emerging economy and democracy with fortitude. The company was started by Ajay Mehta’s father and named after his mother, Shakuntala, who took part in the celebrations.
We had the good fortune to meet with Ajay Mehta during Printpack as well that took part during the same days. Mehta pointed out that in our industry there are some products that are highly technical and challenging to both produce and service – inks and pressure-sensitive label stocks being just two. The irony which is not always appreciated by consumers is that these inputs are treated as commodities in spite of their specialized nature and applications.
Mehta is always optimistic and calm about the prospects of the label industry. However, he is constrained to add that, “Label stock materials are a highly technical and challenging input with high turnover but extremely low margins.While the Indian label industry is poised for quantum growth, this needs to be well fuelled with better margins instead of hypercompetition. Intense competition should be handled by creating innovative solutions, instead of just indulging in a price war.”