The Indian plywood and laminate industry is rapidly growing due to strong growth in the housing sector which is been the primary focus of the current Government at the center. As per IMARC Industrial Insights, a study has estimated that the Indian Plywood market is around Rs.208 billion in 2022-23 and is growing rapidly and in the next five years with a CAGR of 6.74, shall touch around Rs.306 billion. The industry being so huge, is dominated by unrecognized sectors largely and offers a challenge to organized players. Amongst the organized player, Amulya Mica is one such brand that stands for its quality, innovative designs, and customer service.
Amulya Mica was founded two decades back in 2004 by Rakesh Agarwal, as a company offering a single product, Plywood, today has grown into a multi-product group that offers almost all products for the interiors of home, office, or commercial spaces. Currently, it boasts of manufacturing High-Pressure Decorative Laminates (HPDL), PVC Laminates, PVC and WPC Panels, Laminates, Flush doors, PVC Door frames, and Cladding Laminates for external applications, besides the original product line of Plywood, which continues. The journey so far has been the result of one man’s vision, farsightedness, and business acumen that has led to the creation of a multi-product organization, and has become a brand of repute and preferred choice by Architects and Interior Designers.
Rakesh Agarwal, in an exclusive chat with Industry Outlook, shares his perspective and views about the challenges and opportunities in the plywood and laminate industry and the changes in the manufacturing process that he has witnessed over the last two decades.
Kindly take us through your educational journey and prior industry experience that equipped you with the required capability to succeed in business.
Well, I was desirous of becoming a Chartered Accountant and establishing my own practice, hence pursuing B.Com. However, fate had something else in store for me and circumstances led me to venture onto my own business. Having grown and being surrounded by forest, my entrepreneurial venture probably automatically veered towards forestry products, thus I established the first saw mill at Dimapur, Nagaland and my entrepreneurial stint began right when I aged 20.
My extended family, uncles, and cousins were in the same business, which was probably another influencing factor in the selection of the industry for my first venture.
Having no prior experience was probably an asset to me since I learned everything on the job and I didn’t have any preconceived notions while making decisions. Also, I have always tried to attend lectures, and workshops by eminent personalities from India and abroad. Relatively, I have completed a short-term course from IIM, Ahmedabad, and have become a proud alumnus of the same.
What are the most important business challenges that you face today in your current role? How do you overcome them?
Market dynamics change quite rapidly. Today, where it’s easy to reach out to consumers through social media, it is also critical to operating avoiding any negative feedback as that too seems to spread rapidly and is difficult to control and more damaging. Apart from that the changing consumer taste has its own challenge, and one needs to monitor trends to avoid the reduction of the product life cycle, by easily providing for the design requirements through managing raw material as well as finished goods inventory.
While constant innovation in every aspect is the challenge, we lower the overall age of the team to be in sync with consumer trends. Also, decentralization in decision-making is helping the business to react fast, making it more agile.
Tell us about the expertise you possess in the Plywood and Laminates field. How are you driving growth within the company?
As I mentioned earlier, I established the business from scratch which gave me the opportunity to have worked on every aspect of the business be it the purchase of machines, production, selling, raw material sourcing, and accounting, to name just a few of the functions, while establishing the business. Today, that experience comes in very handy in decision-making. As an MD, I’m able to anticipate potential issues that may arise and I’m able to guide the teams proactively. This proactive action is giving us an edge over the competition. Anticipating consumer needs, we have upgraded the manufacturing processes and added state of art machines, which offers quality products. We source our critical raw material for laminates from Europe and Japan which gives us a completive edge in terms of designs, and textures.
We’ve adapted consumer analytics and forecasting tools which allow us to build up an inventory of products as per the trends and anticipate the consumption patterns, we stock inventory at locations closer to the consuming markets. Our investment in software and tools in IT is offering us cutting edge to fight competition and grow our market share.
Believe in yourself, keep the hope alive, and don’t rush. Hard work pays but it takes its own time
As a business leader, how do you inspire your workforce to perform better? Reveal your guiding leadership philosophy.
I feel that success is not an individual aspect, it’s teamwork. We encourage decision-making at every level. Decentralization in decision-making is one aspect that is the philosophy I believe in and practice it. The second-generation family members have their on-the-job learning, and each of my children have been assigned responsibility for which they are accountable. Mentoring at all levels, is what we do, including I have mentors whom I regularly meet, which allows each individual to improve and overcome his/her shortcomings.
How do you keep yourself well aligned with the periodic advancements happening in the industry and the tech world?
Upgrading skills at all levels is a constant endeavor, if we have to become market leaders and be ahead of the competition. This philosophy I learned long back when I ventured into the business. Thence, we encourage continuous learning culture within the organization.
I being a member of bodies such as FICCI, CII, FOKIA, GCCI, and AIMA to name a few is a learning ground for me. In the meetings, I often listen to issues, and discussions of other members, and this gives me ideas that I bring into my work. Former training, workshops, and MDPs are the regular practice that we follow. Also, we have a Learning and Development (L & D) team that manages ‘Gurukul’ a training set-up within the Amulya Mica which regularly conducts need-based programs.