Apparel Online - - Perspective Story -

Ac­cord­ing to Ex­port Pro­mo­tion Bureau (EPB), the Bangladesh ap­parel in­dus­try – the world’s sec­ond biggest af­ter China – has around 40 ven­tures/en­ti­ties (mostly medium and large) formed over the years that are led by re­tired de­fence per­son­nel, and their num­ber is on the rise! On the other hand, In­dia may not have such large num­ber of armed per­son­nel in gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, but there are some in­ter­est­ing ex­am­ples of peo­ple who started their jour­ney from army and have proven them­selves in ap­parel in­dus­try also. The first that comes to mind is Ma­jor B.P. Singh of Singh Ex­ports, which in the early 1980s, was the only re­puted buy­ing agency serv­ing the C&A Group of stores in Europe. Though Ma­jor Singh is way past ac­tive busi­ness, his bunch of fresh­ers are now spread all over the in­dus­try, im­bibed with a sense of pur­pose and ded­i­ca­tion.

Among the more re­cent ones, some pop­u­lar names in­clude Ma­jor GS Madan, MD, Madan Trad­ing Com­pany, Delhi;

Col. K. Christo­pher, CEO of RB Knit Ex­ports, Lud­hi­ana; Cap­tain Kavita Ah­lawat, Co-Founder at EMBiQ Tech­no­va­tions, Gur­gaon; and Group Cap­tain Mo­honto Pang­ing of Elam In­dus­tries. Ap­parel On­line dis­cussed with some of them and found that spe­cial­iza­tion in man­ag­ing the man­power and strong dis­ci­pline is some­thing of an ad­van­tage for armed per­son­nel when they work in ap­parel sec­tor.

Ma­jor Madan, a vet­eran of ap­parel in­dus­try and also as­so­ci­ated with many trade as­so­ci­a­tions, gave 17 years of his life to Indian army be­fore tak­ing pre­ma­ture re­tire­ment as a Ma­jor. He also served as an in­struc­tor in Gun­nery School and Indian Mil­i­tary Academy and soon left as his fa­ther asked him to join busi­ness. Shar­ing his phi­los­o­phy with AO, he said, “I never went af­ter money in my life, but pre­ferred ‘qual­ity life’. The biggest ad­van­tage of hav­ing an army back­ground is that we are trained to deal with peo­ple, and in gar­ment ex­port busi­ness also, one of the ma­jor tasks is deal­ing with peo­ple only. Like, in my com­pany, I have at least 50 peo­ple who joined with me and are still on the roll even af­ter al­most 4 decades. Now I am plan­ning to give them a ‘golden hand­shake’. Apart from this, ‘dis­ci­plined life’ is also one of the biggest as­sets.”

Not only as en­trepreneurs, but some exarmed pro­fes­sion­als are also work­ing at top lev­els in some good fac­to­ries. One of the best ex­am­ples of the same is Col. Christo­pher, who is also a vet­eran of 1971 war. Hav­ing a strong army back­ground, he joined RB Knit Ex­ports, Lud­hi­ana as CEO on the very next day of his re­tire­ment (nearly 10 years ago), and till date is man­ag­ing the busi­ness very well. In fact when Christo­pher be­came Colonel, there were only 600 Colonels in the army. Very clear about his vi­sion, he shared with AO team: “I have been man­ag­ing and lead­ing 20,000 peo­ple or even more, so for me man­ag­ing a fac­tory and its labour is a ‘left-hand job’. In army, we mo­ti­vate our peo­ple to fol­low us, and even die for the coun­try. So it be­comes very easy in civil life or any­where to tell them to do this job and get this (salary/award).”

Christo­pher fur­ther con­tin­ued, “Army is a beau­ti­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion; it gives you not only the ex­po­sure of man­ag­ing the en­emy, but also teaches you how to man­age civil­ians. And for that we had a civil­ian per­sonal man­age­ment school in which a to­tal dif­fer­ent ap­proach and sys­tems were taught. I was part of Col­lege of Ma­te­rial Man­age­ment (CMM), Ja­balpur where

I did my course of Civil­ian Per­son­nel Man­age­ment. You have to get con­ver­sant with rules and reg­u­la­tions, be­cause one has to know how to gov­ern the armed forces per­son­nel, and for which there are set rules and reg­u­la­tions. Like­wise, there are many acts as far as fac­to­ries or civil­ians are con­cerned. I stud­ied all things re­lated to fac­to­ries, cus­toms and trade af­ter I joined. So, I am man­ag­ing very finely.”

He con­cluded by say­ing that when­ever a prob­lem or is­sue arises, one must know whom to con­tact. Indian Union has a beau­ti­ful sys­tem to se­lect its of­fi­cials, and they are com­pe­tent enough to do their job. They are also well aware that if they will not do their job, some­body else will do it. I fol­low the pro­ce­dure prop­erly which I learnt from army. ‘Hu­man touch’ is very im­por­tant and one has to ap­ply for the same, un­der­stand­ing their feel­ings and prob­lems.

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