Garware Technical Fibres Ltd – Leading with innovation, quality & talent

FIBRE Technical Textiles

To be a global leader, a company’s products have to stand up to the highest benchmarks. In that sense, GTFL is considered a pioneer in HDPE aquaculture solutions for the salmon farming industry globally. Garware Technical Fibres Limited (GTFL), engaged in the technical textile industry, was set up by Abasaheb Garware, a visionary entrepreneur who started several family-owned companies from very humble beginnings. He was able to build engaged and passionate teams and was often the first to get into new areas of business and applications. He founded GTFL in 1976 to meet a need in the Indian fishing industry for polymer ropes and cordage. The original name of the company was Garware Wall Ropes Ltd. His son, Ramesh Garware, significantly expanded the product range and the company’s global footprint. He initiated the value-addition journey and set up a plant at Wai in Maharashtra to further vertically integrate and deliver more innovative products to end-users. GTFL’s business activities fall under what is broadly known as technical textiles. Within this the company is more focused on Agro-Tech, Sport-Tech and Geo-Tech GTFL is considered a pioneer in HDPE aquaculture solutions for the salmon farming industry globally.

It is also India’s leading sports nets’ solutions provider. The company is a recognised leader in the mechanised fishing industry both in India and overseas and focuses on providing products that improve the catch and reduce diesel consumption. A few years ago GTFL developed and introduced a range of solutions for protected cultivation in the agriculture space. These are being quickly adopted by farmers to significantly improve yield and reduce pesticide use. The company also provides various technical solutions to the transmission, shipping, construction and other industries. Its geo-synthetics businesses help in coastlines, railways and roads. By and large, GTFL has a well-balanced portfolio of which almost 60-70% is finally sold to industries that provide food & the rest to other industrial applications.

Presence in Technical Textiles

Vayu Garware, Chairman & MD

One of the biggest differentiators which set GTFL apart is its obsession with the customers’ pain points related to the application. “With our vast investments in research and development coupled with our expertise in fibres and manufacturing, we are able to address these customer requirements and in many cases exceed their expectations. We have 23 patents granted and we continue to focus on designing solutions that are highly relevant to our customer’s needs. Our products are often of smaller value in terms of the overall operational costs of our customers but they tend to be mission-critical,” says Chairman and Managing Director Vayu Garware.

These products can be for a fisherman, an aquaculture farmer, agriculture or even industrial applications like safety nets for construction or single point mooring systems in offshore oil drilling. “If our products fail, the consequences can be significant. A fisherman may lose his entire catch or a salmon farmer may have the fish escape even as wild fish mixing is a key concern globally. A failure of the SPM system may result in oil spillage with in turn can cause serious environmental challenges for offshore oil companies. Our brands are built over years of dependable and reliable delivery – day in and day out. Along with this, innovation and delivering better value to our customers further builds the trust and brand of our company,” Garware adds.

Operational Strategies

The company has two large integrated manufacturing plants, one in Pune which was the first plant of GTFL and another at Satara where it employs approximately 4,000 people and provides employment to approximately another 4,000 families through subcontracting and other such operations.

One of the biggest advantages of both these facilities is that most of the machinery is flexible and modular, thereby allowing it to cater to and balance the demand and supply situations across various applications. GTFL has a range of over 20,000 SKUs and produces almost 7,000-8,000 different SKUs each month. This leads to a lot of complexity in the manufacturing system. To deal with this there is a strong focus on manufacturing excellence across both these units with various LEAN initiatives in place.

This allows the company to manage the flexibility required with a very high degree of reliability. “We also have a strong engineering and materials team who are continuously upgrading equipment and also testing new materials in extrusion. Finally, fibre technology is at the core of our innovation and product development and the manufacturing, marketing and research and development teams work closely together to innovate and bring new products to life,” Garware informs. Over the last 10 years GTFL has evolved and changed significantly. The journey started by having a common mission or reason for existence to which the entire organisation is aligned. Elaborates Garware: “As a top management team we realised that we are a B2B company and therefore our reason to exist is to ensure that our customers make more profit from their investments. Whether it’s a small farmer or fisherman in India or a global salmon farming organisation, we truly believe that our only way to survive and grow is to ensure that we deliver better returns to them with our products.”

“This mission was communicated and imbibed in every team member at GTFL. It then drove a number of organisational changes within our company, including building a very dedicated research and development team with our best resources allocated to it and giving application-focused innovation top priority in everything we did. It took some time to get this established in everybody’s daily walk and talk, in the planning processes and in everyone’s strategic thinking but once it became the norm it produced magical results. Along with this, new senior management members joined our team, including our CEO Shujaul Rehman. They added drive and energy to this change”, he added. “We also focused a lot on employee engagement and moved towards becoming a ‘great place to work’. Finally, the company is all about people – only happy and engaged people can think in an innovative way, overcome the many challenges that innovation poses and ensure customers are served with passion and dedication,” Garware says. With these changes, the company was able to move away from selling just products to truly delivering solutions to its customers. About seven years ago, value-added solutions formed only 30% of the sales, which has rocketed to over 70% now. As of now, GTFL provides solutions to customers spread across more than 75 countries. In the area of aquaculture it provides differentiated solutions to all the key salmon aquaculture markets like Norway, Scotland, Canada and Chile, just to name a few.

“Similarly, we are catering to requirements of the global fishing industry and serving markets across Asia and Oceania. On the domestic front we are market leaders in the mechanised fishing industry and also the farmers’ preferred brand of choice in the field of protected agriculture. We are also a leading solutions provider in many other areas including, shipping, transmission, defence and other industrial applications,” Garware adds. The credit for such success can be attributed to well-understood mission and values that bind the team together. “A lot of the credit goes to our HR team for implementing new practices to ensure that every employee feels valued and respected for what they contribute to the organisation,” Garware points out. “We try hard to provide our team with a healthy work environment which allows them to grow and show their talent. We have employee development programmes in place which also help them in learning new skills and growing in their professional life.” he adds.

The Way Ahead

The near term goal for GTFL is to ensure that it continues to keep our teams and their families safe through the pandemic and continues the current momentum of growth. “We have made good strides across the global and Indian markets in all of our key segments by bringing new and innovative solutions to the market which have been well-appreciated by the customers. In the end our endeavour is always to be recognised as a leader in all the key segments that we operate in and we are confident that through our focus on innovation, quality and talent we will be able to achieve the same,” Garware concludes.