Kusumgar: Pioneers of technical textiles

Technical Textiles

With innovation and technology being the key factors in its operational strategy, Kusumgar Corporate Private Ltd. has emerged as an icon in the field of technical textiles and has been awarded premium contracts for making specialised parachutes for the Indian defence forces

Siddharth Kusumgar, Managing Director, and Ankur Kothari, CEO, Kusumgar Corporate Private Ltd.

Back in 1970, the technical textile sector was still in its infancy, undergoing a revolutionary phase. And it was around this time that entrepreneur Y.K. Kusumgar rightly recognised the potential that lay therein, which is what prompted him to set up Kusumgar Corporate Private Ltd. (KCPL). Kusumgar was a visionary of his time, understanding fully well that the demand for textiles is dynamic in nature and that the subsequent years would see an upsurge in the requirement for this unique fabric. Starting small, he worked hard, experimented, and laid the foundations for a successful company.

Today, KCPL is almost 50 years old and is regarded a pioneer in the entire industry, synonymous with the production of technical textiles. The vision with which the company was started was ‘to transform the lives of people through innovation in textile’ and the company has certainly lived up to that philosophy. At the helm of its operations are Managing Director Siddharth Kusumgar and CEO Ankur Kothari who are now leading KCPL into its next generation of activities. The structure of its business is set up across three different verticals of defence, industrial and consumer.

Customisation is Key

These divisions specialise in customising the products as per the needs of the consumers, thereby giving KCPL an edge over its competitors. For instance, the unit that focuses on the requirements of the defence sector provides fabrics for military clothing. These are made with specific properties such as ultra-light in weight, quick to dry, anti-bacterial and UV-resistant. The company also supplies such specialised fabrics to the aeronautical sector. KCPL also went through a significant upgrade in its product line in 2019 when the company, which was mainly into manufacturing of fabrics, was offered a transfer of technology (ToT) by the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India for manufacturing parachutes for the Indian Army.

These parachutes are made under the aegis of the Gaganyaan Human Space Programme, which is all set to be launched in the year 2022. The role of the company in this venture would be to make parachutes which will be used while landing in order to prevent the space capsule from crashing. Further, the transfer of technology agreement also includes the manufacturing of combat free-fall parachutes which will be used to jump from a height of 10,000 feet. One of the special products will be the drop parachute which will have the capacity of carrying up to 20 tons to be used for carrying and ensuring safe landing of heavy cargo and large vehicles such as jeeps and tanks.

Highlighting the importance of this venture, Siddharth Kusumgar states: “We are humbled by the trust that the government has shown in us and our products. At present, we are assisting them in completing the 70 tests that will be done before launching of the said program, which is scheduled to take place in 2022. We will play our part with complete dedication till the very end of this initiative.” Such a valuable partnership has no doubt been the result of the long-standing consistent performance that KCPL has been delivering since its inception.

Partnerships of Value

Overall, it has been a very exciting year for the brand with the opportunity to explore new avenues and also contemplate about expanding their product base, especially in the US market. “The company is looking at partnering with a few family-managed businesses which are based in Europe or the US. Special skills of like-minded companies such as technology, certifications standard and qualifications will be acquired or partnered with under this initiative,” Kusumgar informs. KCPL’s previous joint ventures such as Saati Kusumgar (P) Ltd. and Toray Kusumgar Advance Textiles with leading companies across the globe have proved to be very successful. They have added capabilities to their portfolio and significantly increased the quality of services.

Elaborating about the company’s operational strategies, Ankur Kothari says: “The company strongly believes in the fact that we as an industry need to work together as partners so as to provide the manufacturer with profits while giving the best quality products to the consumers. This exercise of acquisitions and joint ventures is fundamental for innovation to occur in the industry.” Given this approach, KCPL has been consistently upgrading its production processes and investing heavily in technology. For instance, it has recently invested in hot melt lamination technology and has started working on new applications like inflatable technology with relation to its application in the medical sector.

Leading from the Front

KCPL has been a market leader for years now and has been setting examples for others. “For any product manufacturing company, it is necessary to understand that raw material forms the basic yet the most important component in the process of manufacturing. However, time and again a lot of companies have complained about the shortage of raw material or that their demands are not being met as a result of which the turnover is affected. In such a scenario, we have a very interesting approach of treating our raw material suppliers as our business partners rather than just suppliers,” Kothari says.

“We work very closely and cohesively with the raw material suppliers because the company understands their value to the business. However, one thing that the company has noticed is that procuring raw materials when there happens to be a sudden need for it does prove to be a very difficult task. This is something that we together as an industry need to think about and come up with a solution for,” he adds. The company has three integrated facilities set up in Gujarat which begin with yarn modification and are followed by other processes such as weaving, dyeing, coating, finishing, bleaching, scouring, calendaring and lamination. Currently the facilities are operating at 80-85% capacity and the company has made elaborate plans to achieve much more than this in the subsequent financial year.

The production facilities are equipped with advanced conventional shuttle looms, Dornier rapier looms, water jet looms, and Sulzer flexible rapier looms and weaving machines. Being a pioneer in its field, KCPL happens to be the only technical textile manufacturing company to have bagged the National Award for Indigenization from the Government of India for performing stupendously and providing strong, sturdy, and great quality nuclear biological warfare clothing and zero porosity fabrics for parachute applications. The other accolades that the company has received over the years include the Gold Vendor Award by Garware Bestretch, Supplier Excellence Award by Parker Hannifin and Quality Promise to Zero Defect Award by Johnson and Johnson.

“The company has persistently worked towards expanding its applications so that they can make a difference to the lives of more and more people. We have the perfect combination of an innovative approach to solve problems, a dedicated team of employees and workers, and experienced and visionary leadership which makes it a dream team to achieve various levels of success. Even after 50 years of operation, the company has not lost its zeal and courage to expand and try out new ventures,” Kusumgar says. KCPL’s ambition is to achieve a turnover of Rs. 1,000 crores in the next few years. “We are definitely moving towards achieving this target,” Kusumgar states.

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