Editor's note: This story is a part of a series on how three Indian companies are overcoming a traditional reluctance to enter the U.S. market. Read the overview here: Indian Influx: Investors Overcome Cautious Approach to U.S. Market
Vaibhav Jain was not proud of the fact that the floor in his company's Delhi factory was already busted up, but shards of ceramic tile are just a few of the obstacles his company, Jayanita & Jayanita Exports Pvt. Ltd., had to step around to improve productivity.
The factory sits in a nondescript building in Delhi's Noida district, known for its high-tech and industrial parks as well as the sleek luxury homes sprouting up for executives that work in them. Mr. Jain spoke over whirring machines, which drill, paint and cut metal parts into up to 50,000 curtain rods per day to be sold to traders, wholesalers, then customers at decorating shops in the U.S. and other countries.
It sounds impressive, but with the "impossible" prices required by American customers like Hobby Lobby, Ross and Christmas Tree Shops, the 30-year-old trading company is always looking to trim waste, Mr. Jain told Global Atlanta.
Thanks to India House Brass Inc., a sister importer and wholesaler run by Mr. Jain's relatives in Conyers, Ga., Jayanita has always had a solid distribution chain, freeing it up to focus on improving manufacturing processes instead of chasing clients. It's a symbiotic relationship, he said.
Vinoj Jain, Vaibhav's grandfather, who started India House Brass in Conyers more than 20 years ago, agreed.
"They say they have an office in America; we say we have a factory in India. It helps our customers either way," he said.
From the beginning, Jayanita has been a family venture. It started when Vaibhav's grandmother and great aunt realized that they could do better than making bedsheets from the fabrics they were buying from India's Surat region. They reckoned handicrafts would fetch much higher prices when sold abroad.
Working with Vinoj at India House, they began selling in the U.S. and have continued to this day, branching out to other customers once well established.
But as sales have increased, so has the pressure to improve productivity.
Constant innovation is key to maintaining Jayanita's margins, especially when making $2 valances and $14 curtain panels, Vaibhav told Global Atlanta during a tour of two facilities that highlighted two industries in which India has a manufacturing edge: textiles and metals.
"Customers give us an unimaginable price, and we get it for that price," he said.
Part of the battle is to get workers making as little as $80 per month more engaged in the process, he said while touring a textile plant where a financial reward of 250 rupees (about $5) was advertised for the employee with the best idea in the suggestion box that month.
The company also uses negative reinforcement. The curtain factory has a "wall of shame" of sorts that posts rejection rates for the team on the production lines. It also highlights the worst defect of the day.
"It's OK if they have a new problem every day. It's fine, and they don't have to be scared of that, but if it's the same thing over and over, then it's a problem," Vaibhav Jain said.
All in all, the systems let workers know that they have a stake in the plant's operations.
"Now the staff actually thinks they can make a big difference in the organizational culture," he said.
For more on Jayanita, click here.
For more on India House Brass, visit www.indiahousebrass.com.