A Family Affair

By Brand new Synergy Packaging looks forward to a bright future in the label business. | January 14, 2009

Brand new Synergy Packaging looks forward to a bright future in the label business.

When discussing industrialization in India, and specifically the rise of the label industry, there's often a focus on start-ups, opportunities, technology, quality, improvement and change. Synergy Packaging, also known as SynPac, is a company that encompasses much of these themes, and is a great example of the growing label printing landscape in India.   

SynPac has just kicked off commercial label production in January, and the brother and sister tandem running the show are excited about entering the label printing business in India. The company is run by Managing Director Sandhya Shetty, and her brother, Santosh Shetty, SynPac's director.

The new business is rooted in the Shetty family. SynPac's sister company, Surface Graphics, began its work in the carton manufacturing industry in 1989. Described by Sandhya as a true "Mom and Pop" shop (it was founded by her Mom and Pop), Surface Graphics started small, with a one color, locally manufactured offset, sheetfed machine. Until 1999, the company was based in Bombay (now known as Mumbai), where it recieved assistance from an Indian program called Industrial Estates. Under this program, the government provides subsidies to small industrial businesses for necessities like property and electricity. As Sandhya explains, "The program is in place to encourage micro-establishments to set up and operate industrial businesses, and the government helps the businesses financially with a wide range of assistance."

Santosh says that the Industrial Estates program was a key factor in Surface Graphics getting off the ground, but the company saw the need to make a change in order to grow. "Under Industrial Estates, the quality of services the government provided was always good, but inferior security became a concern. We were operating out of a number of different locations, materials costs were going up, and we sensed our customers wanted a more cohesive company to work with, one that was under one roof," he says.

So, in 1999, Surface Graphics packed up and moved its operation to Silvassa, a city about 150 kilometers north of Mumbai. It's here where the company built and opened a 45,000 square foot facility. The company upgraded its equipment, acquiring machinery from Heidelberg as well as an array of finishing equipment. With a customer base that includes the likes of Procter & Gamble along with a host of other Asian and Indian companies, Surface Graphics has established itself as a leader in carton manufacturing.

Santosh Shetty, in addition to his role at SynPac, is also the joint managing director for Surface Graphics. He says that in 2006, the company began to look into labeling, and a chance to offer customers "the complete packaging solution." This is where Sandhya stepped into the business picture; she has an extensive business management background, having worked for USA based Boston Analytics.

"For about two years we were outsourcing labels for our Surface Graphics customers. We were testing the market. In 2008, we decided to get full-fledged into labels," Santosh says, adding that that's when SynPac was born, and the company began by doing business via outsourcing labels, before taking the plunge – buying a Nilpeter FB-3300 Servo UV flexo combination press, to convert labels themselves.

Sandhya says that SynPac spent about eight months searching for the right fit, in terms of a press investment. "We literally went around the world checking out presses – Italy, Thailand, Malaysia – we looked at presses and companies both big and small," she says. "We decided to go with the Nilpeter FB-Line. It really is the best fit for us.

"We put in a lot of research and study, and really zeroed in on a number of factors – performance, cost, and the Nilpeter team itself," Sandhya says, adding, "They've provided such great support, and it really helped us in our decision making process. They made us feel like we were part of the Nilpeter family."

The eight-unit FB-3300 has a 13" web width and is equipped with hot air dryers and interdeck UV curing units. Other equipment includes a movable cold foil unit for fitting between any two print stations, and a drop-in rotary screen cassette from Stork Prints. SynPac's new press is also a landmark for Nilpeter. It is the first FB-line Servo press to be manufactured by Nilpeter India in Chennai, through a joint venture with its Indian partner, Proteck Machinery.

Santosh also points out that the press is one that will give SynPac many options. "We feel that this particular press will give us more advantages. We have in mind for SynPac more than just making pressure sensitive labels. We have plans for converting other products, like paper cups, for example. To us, we see it as a multi-product kind of a press."

SynPac's newly purchased press was the very press on display at the Nilpeter booth during the 2008 India Label Show. After making the journey to its new home in Mumbai, it is currently installed and running SynPac's first label converting jobs.

Sandhya recognizes that her company's push for labels comes from Surface Graphics' existing customers, and SynPac is fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to supply labels to a captive audience. She says that SynPac anticipates quite a bit of business from FMCGs, personal care, and wine industry customers.

"The wine industry in India is growing very fast," adds Santosh. "Surface Graphics has been supplying a large number of cartons to the wine industry. In the last year, the wine industry in India grew at a rate of 60 percent, and Surface Graphics supplies leading wine manufacturers. We're anticipating a lot of wine business."

SynPac has a lot of the necessary parts in place, and appears poised for success. There is an office in Mumbai for marketing, taking orders, and so forth. The manufacturing facility is an 8,000 square foot space in Silvassa, and the company has 20 employees. A sales team is assembled, and a website is in the works. As far as prepress goes, SynPac will outsource for the time being in order to focus on the actual label printing.

Starting a label company and getting it off the ground is quite an accomplishment, and the Shettys are certainly proud of their new press and their new business venture. Sandhya Shetty takes a great deal of pride in another aspect of this story. While at the India Label Show, she took note of something.
"Looking around the exhibition and the conference sessions, I don't see too many women. In India, the role of women in business has not been on par with men, so it feels good to be a part of perhaps women in India emerging in the business world, and the label converting world in particular."
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