Zero debt Update growing at 20%

The Gurgaon-based label printer has been spreading its arms over the years. The father-son duo of Rajesh and Aditya Chadha, directors at Update Prints, share the secret of its success to Ramu Ramanathan and Rahul Kumar.

During a panel discussion as part of the LMAI Conference in Jaipur last year, we had noticed how Rajesh Chadha, managing director of the Gurgaon-based label printing company Update Prints, was unusually quiet while rest of the panellists were waxing eloquence. We were intrigued by Chadha’s unusual stoicism at the industry event held on 16-18 July 2015.

For one thing, the conference was organised to identify the changing trends and help gear the Indian industry to meet those challenges. Meeting challenges have been Update’s forte. Today, Update is a force to be reckoned with in the Indian label segment, with a 200,000 sq/ft state-of-the-art premises in Gurgaon, equipped with the latest high-end printing technologies.

When we visited the Update facility in February, what impressed us most was how affable Rajesh Chadha and his son Aditya, the director of the company, were. They made us completely at ease with their genuine personality, a complete contrast with Chadha’s stoicism in Jaipur.

“There are limitations when you share a stage with your colleagues,” Chadha senior explains the reasons why he kept his own counsel at Jaipur. “When you speak on behalf of the entire industry, sometimes you tend to sound artificial. Hence, I thought it would be better to keep quiet.”

Artificial Chadhas are certainly not. In fact, what impressed us most about Update was the simplicity of its owners. We were also impressed with the company’s focus. Over the years, Update has discovered its own rhythm, unperturbed by market trends and competition.

Rajesh Chadha is happy to be a part of the label industry. “It is an interesting industry,” he says. “There is lot of work and room for creativity and innovation.” He is also proud of his achievements. And why not? He has led the company to consistently achieve an almost 20% per annum growth rate, which is above the perceived industry rate. He beams when he says, “Growth comes naturally to my company because of the quality of our work. It is not fuelled by huge borrowings from banks.” No wonder he heads a fully family-owned successful and growing zero-debt company!

A historic legacy
Update Prints came into existence in 1994. However, the family has a long history of print. Rajesh Chadha’s grandfather initiated the journey into print in 1924, with PC Chadha and Company, which was into transfer printing on sewing machines and for railways. PC Chadha spent some time in Kobe, Japan, where he picked up the art of printing, and started his own business when he returned to Rawalpindi in British India. After the partition, the family moved to Delhi and set shop in Patel Nagar before shifting to a bigger factory in Naraina Industrial Area, New Delhi and then to Gurgaon.

The family started Update Prints in a bid to diversify into other businesses. The focus was on hardcore automation. In 2002, PC Chadha and Company and Update Prints merged into one entity. Now, the company supply labels to all segments in self-adhesive category. “We are the specialist in labels printing and we want to continue with it. We want to invest in our strengths. The label market is growing at about 10-15% every year and that growth can be captured easily,” Chadha says.

He joined PC Chadha and Company in 1976. “We were in the paper transfer business like sewing machines and the ceramics. During my stay abroad, I picked up new printing techniques. So, when I joined the company, I brought screen printing and lithography. Very few people started screen printing then and we were one of them. We used to import materials from America. In 1994, we brought one flexo machine with UV from Focus and then from Orthotec,” Chadha recalls.

Meanwhile, Aditya Chadha, the fourth generation of the family, an MBA from Rutgers University in the US, with a specialisation in marketing, has been involved in the family business since his college days. After a stint in AT&T as a marketing manager, he returned to India in 2005, and joined the family business.

Current concerns
According to Aditya, customer retention is a real concern in the industry. “At a time when competition is so stiff, customer loyalty is difficult to expect,” he says, adding, “We have to look at ways to retain our customers.”

More labels with short-run are another concern. “In fact, competition and end customers both have increased. Brand owners are tempted to bring in more products and to introduce more products from time to time. This necessitates going into test products and test marketing. Obviously, short-run is a big concern. Digital printing presses may be a solution, but in India, digital has a long way to go. Digital is very expensive,” explains Aditya.

In 2001, Rajesh Chadha bought an Orthotec intermittent letterpress at Labelexpo Asia held in Singapore. Two years later, he impulsively bought a Rotatek displayed at a New Delhi print exhibition, on immediate payment basis taking his industry colleagues by surprise. Update Prints under his leadership has been acquiring new state-of-the-art equipment at regular intervals. From the single 600 square yards factory, the company was operating three different plots, one of 1,000 square yards and two of 600 square yards, it was now time to consolidate for a few years.

In another strategic move in 2013, Update Prints moved all their manufacturing operations under one roof to a facility admeasuring almost 250,000 square feet in land area and 32,000 square feet covered area. This exercise required the involvement of a huge amount of money, time, effort and commitment. The land was designated agricultural land. Setting up an industrial project on it was illegal. Many people in the area have done it but Rajesh Chadha is committed to tread the straight path. He got the land use changed to industrial. Any Indian will know the kind of effort and time this takes.

Infrastructure was another problem. The nearest power feeder was far away and to expedite the matter of bringing power to the unit, Update Prints had to install 50 electricity poles at their own expense. The approach road to the unit was in shambles. It had to be re-laid at their own expense.

Reminiscing about his work in the initial days in labels, he says, “The first label I created was for Yardley Cosmetics.” In those days, he had bought two Newfoil three station hot-foiling presses. He used to love working with them creating innovative products. It was the most satisfying part for him because he could imagine and then create labels that would get appreciation from buyers.

He has, over the years, equipped Update Prints with diverse technologies in label printing, decorating and finishing. Whether it is offset printed labels printed on his Rotatek Brava or labels created on flexo, letterpress, hot or cold foiling, screen printing, etc, his company is never left wanting the ability to create. “I deliver quality, service and satisfaction to my customers and for this reason, work comes to me automatically. I do not have to waste time in running after work,” he says confidently.