THE PER­FECT KITCHEN-MATE

There are many things in life that we take for granted and among them are the hum­ble pots and pans, with­out which our homes wouldn’t feel like homes. Su­nil Agar­wal the man be­hind Vinod Cook­ware, a lead­ing cook­ware man­u­fac­turer, un­der­stands this all too we

Marwar - - Contents - Text Joseph Rozario

Su­nil Agar­wal, the go-get­ting di­rec­tor of Vinod Cook­ware, has cap­i­talised on the mun­dane but in­dis­pens­able world of cook­ware to rake up a whop­ping 200 crore turnover in FY 201718. He now as­pires to dou­ble the fig­ure in the next fis­cal.

AS THE INHERITOR OF A SUC­CESS­FUL fam­ily busi­ness, Su­nil Agar­wal, like most scions of Mar­wari busi­ness houses, feels grate­ful to his for­bears for giv­ing a foun­da­tion and shape to it. The for­bear, in his case, was none other than his late fa­ther Ra­jeram Agar­wal, whom he also thanks for in­still­ing in him the val­ues of hard work, per­se­ver­ance and ded­i­ca­tion.

The germ of the idea of set­ting up a cook­ware busi­ness was planted in Ra­jeram Agar­wal dur­ing his years as an em­ployee of a pop­u­lar cook­ware firm, when re­al­i­sa­tion dawned upon him that a 9 – 5 job was not for him and that like most oth­ers of his com­mu­nity, his in­ter­ests too lay in en­ter­prise. With that, the foun­da­tion of his cook­ware busi­ness was laid by way of a small stain­less steel uten­sil man­u­fac­tur­ing unit at Bhandup, in Mum­bai, in 1962.

Scal­ing up

Though Ra­jeram Agar­wal’s unit catered to the un­or­gan­ised sec­tor, it did man­age to ac­quire con­sid­er­able renown. This had him set his sights on im­prov­ing qual­ity fur­ther and also im­port­ing tech­nol­ogy—some­thing no one in the In­dian mar­ket had thought of or at­tempted be­fore . With his busi­ness grow­ing, it should have been easy sail­ing for him, but the re­al­ity was dif­fer­ent. Like all other busi­nesses, es­tab­lish­ing him­self and then go­ing large scale brought its own set of chal­lenges for Ra­jeram too. “The most im­por­tant chal­lenge was ‘ac­cep­tance’,” says Su­nil Agar­wal. “As a new player in the un­or­gan­ised sec­tor, carv­ing a po­si­tion for him­self was the biggest chal­lenge. It was also a very price­sen­si­tive mar­ket back then and pro­vid­ing qual­ity ware at af­ford­able prices was the key chal­lenge. The ma­chin­ery also had to be im­ported and that added to costs and nar­rowed down the profit mar­gin.”

But de­ter­mined that he was to win, Agar­wal worked hard to first and fore­most build a ded­i­cated and pro­duc­tive team and si­mul­ta­ne­ously also started adopt­ing ap­pro­pri­ate mar­ket­ing strate­gies which helped him gain a foothold in the mar­ket. There­after, with stead­fast fo­cus on su­pe­rior tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tive prod­ucts, the brand was able to carve a niche for it­self.

Ful­fill­ing un­re­alised dreams

As for Su­nil Agar­wal, though he had been work­ing off and on with his fa­ther, his full-time en­try into the busi­ness hap­pened with his fa­ther’s demise in 2010. He has been work­ing at full tilt since then to take his legacy for­ward and ful­fil his un­re­alised dream which was to cre­ate a brand that would mod­ernise the In­dian cook­ware mar­ket. Thanks to his ef­forts and the head start pro­vided by his fa­ther, to­day Vinod Cook­ware boasts over 400 prod­ucts across seven cat­e­gories which in­clude state-of-the-art cook­ing tech­nolo­gies such as non-stick cook­ware, hard an­odised cook­ware and more. The brand was the first to in­tro­duce the ‘sand­wich bot­tom’ con­cept in pres­sure cook­ers. Backed by re­search and crafted with qual­ity raw ma­te­ri­als and a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of the In­dian kitchen, Vinod’s prod­ucts in­stantly con­nect with home-mak­ers. Very re­cently the brand has in­tro­duced ‘Ul­ti­mate Cook­ware’ that uses cold forged tech­nol­ogy for warp re­sis­tance and last­ing dura­bil­ity and ‘Plat­inum Cook­ware’ which come with a three-layer con­struc­tion and which have been de­signed keep­ing both do­mes­tic and in­dus­trial chefs in mind.

Build­ing a brand

“Vinod Cook­ware is syn­ony­mous with in­no­va­tion and our of­fer­ings have been our strength,” says Su­nil Agar­wal, re­flect­ing on the brand’s suc­cesses. “Our prod­ucts have been able to stand the test of time and our sub­stan­tial re­search has en­abled us to un­der­stand the mar­ket and the con­sumers well and to bridge the gaps. Also, evolv­ing and chang­ing with the times has helped us re­main rel­e­vant in spite of new com­peti­tors en­ter­ing the mar­ket ev­ery day.”

That apart, spe­cial fo­cus on af­ter-sales-ser­vice and of­fer­ing qual­ity prod­ucts at best prices have also helped the brand con­sol­i­date its po­si­tion in the mar­ket which now in­cludes both met­ros as well as tier I cities. Of late, the brand has also started mak­ing in­roads into tier II and tier III cities and con­sol­i­dat­ing them­selves in th­ese mar­kets fea­tures promi­nently on Su­nil Agar­wal’s to-do list of things.

So how big is Vinod Cook­ware re­ally to­day? “Start­ing out from a small fac­tory in Bhandup, Mum­bai, to­day we have a world­class man­u­fac­tur­ing unit in Pal­ghar, which is In­dia’s largest stain­less steel uten­sils fa­cil­ity. It’s spread across 1,10,000 square feet and pro­duces 8,000 pots ev­ery day! We are set­ting up a base in Gu­jarat as well,” says Agar­wal.

In terms of brand build­ing too Vinod has come a long way since its Bhandup days

and to­day en­joys ex­cel­lent brand re­call. The Agar­wals’ un­wa­ver­ing fo­cus on ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, in­no­va­tion, un­com­pro­mis­ing prod­uct qual­ity and com­pet­i­tive pric­ing have un­doubt­edly paid off, which shows in its im­pres­sive rank­ings as one of the top five cook­ware brands in In­dia. Fur­ther, the brand en­joys No 2 po­si­tion in non-stick kitchen­ware and ranks No 3 in the pres­sure cooker seg­ment. But far from be­ing con­tent with hav­ing achieved th­ese dis­tinc­tions, Su­nil Agar­wal as­pires to scale still greater heights.

A man of the in­dus­try

Fam­ily busi­ness apart, Su­nil Agar­wal has had the over­all wel­fare of the in­dus­try next to his heart and this shows in his be­ing re­cently ap­pointed the pres­i­dent of Met­als & Stain­less Steel Mer­chants As­so­ci­a­tion (MASSMA), the apex body that rep­re­sents the stain­less steel in­dus­try and works towards its devel­op­ment in Mum­bai. As its pres­i­dent, Agar­wal looks for­ward to be able to en­sure that its mem­bers’ voices are heard and that they are in­volved in shap­ing the fu­ture of the stain­less steel in­dus­try. Ear­lier, his fa­ther has served the or­gan­i­sa­tion as its pres­i­dent as well.

Away from the world of busi­ness, Su­nil Agar­wal loves trav­el­ling and ex­plor­ing new places. The con­stant quest for up­grad­ing his cook­ware ap­par­ently also has trig­gered a pas­sion for food in him, for he loves to col­lect new recipes and keep abreast of the lat­est hap­pen­ings in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. As re­gards the fu­ture, he is all geared to keep up the good work and take his brand to the No 1 po­si­tion some­day soon.

Above: Deep fry­pan and dosa tawa from Vinod Cook­ware's Zest In­ducto se­ries

Top: Pic­ture show­ing Vinod prod­ucts along­side plant ma­chin­ery at the man­u­fac­tur­ing unit; Left:'Clas­sique Deluxe' Combo cook­ing pots with riv­eted han­dles from Vinod Cook­ware

Top: (L-R) Ar­jun Agar­wal (son of Su­nil Agar­wal), Anisha Agar­wal (daugh­ter of Su­nil Agar­wal), Su­nil Agar­wal, Ishika Agar­wal (wife of Su­nil Agar­wal), Malvika Agar­wal (daugh­ter of Su­nil Agar­wal); Bot­tom: Stain­less steel GeNext "Zoom" drink­ing wa­ter bot­tles from Vinod Cook­ware

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