There comes a time in business when it requires less ‘pushing’ of the processes and the people to grow but more ‘monitoring’ of the market to observe sentiments, so as to react quickly to change. The same is true for GeoChem (CPS Division), which has completed five phenomenal years in 2021 and has in this short time accelerated growth to an extent where it needn’t worry about managing internal processes, and instead it’s focusing more on understanding how businesses across industries are shaping up in post-pandemic era.
Back in 2016, when the foundation of the lab in Gurgaon was laid, the management and its dedicated as well as experienced manpower, aimed big to set new benchmarks, taking testing and inspection industry to whole new heights. “Today, in 2021, we are not just satisfied but delighted to see the achievements GeoChem has achieved over a period of 5 years, since its inception,” avers Manish Kumar, CEO, GeoChem (CPS/GTS Division), in conversation with Team Apparel Resources.
GeoChem-CPS got its first accreditation in September ’17 – six months after officially inaugurating the lab – and the lab hasn’t looked back since then. The company quickly spread its horizons, entering different industries aggressively and confidently – from textiles, apparel, hardline, furniture, electrical, home appliances to now home and beauty. The confidence is not misplaced as despite the presence of many international TIC agencies that have over the years established a strong footmark in these industries, GeoChem has made significant inroads with its service and testing capabilities.
According to Manish, GeoChem-CPS has seen tremendous growth over the years because of the quick realisation of two ground realities – one that the industry can no longer rely on traditional methods for growth in the rapidly changing business landscape, hence innovation is key for long-term growth; and secondly, speed of action and response time is important and needs to be taken care of quickly to address emerging requirements. “These learnings have helped us a lot in the pandemic period over the last almost two years and have driven us to diversify into online business as well,” shares Manish.
GeoChem has come up with first-of-its-kind e-commerce portal in 2021
Being a trendsetter in testing and inspection industry, GeoChem always believes in taking onus onto itself to come up with solutions that are tailor-made for industries. And, the same has continued over the last 5 years. The most recent addition to the list is the launch of an e-commerce portal with which GeoChem has been able to increase its market reach by multiple times. “Pandemic required innovation in business approach and that’s what we did. We were in touch with the industry through calls during COVID-19 period but that didn’t serve the purpose. Big exporters were facing serious challenges and some of them ended their ties with small-scale manufacturers (MSMEs) who didn’t even know about the testing capabilities and standards at all. When their links got broken during pandemic, we came to the rescue of the MSME sector in India, giving birth to the idea of an e-commerce platform,” asserts Manish.
GeoChem’s e-commerce portal has listed all tests for products across industries. All a company needs to do is submit the details as per individual requirements on the portal. For example, if a bag company wants to get its bag tested, it can come to this e-portal and select the required test out of tens of tests already listed on the portal under the bag category. If they get stuck somewhere, the portal, with its online chat option, helps solve their queries while selecting an appropriate test. After selecting the required test, the user needs to submit it and, soon afterwards, an email will be received by them with quotation. Once the quotation is accepted by the company, a Performa invoice is generated. This is followed by the address of the nearest located lab to the particular company. Once GeoChem receives the sample, they test it, generate lab report and send it back to the company, in not more than three days. “This online booking of testing is only done by us in India. Response has been great and we have gained immense trust of MSMEs,” claims Manish.
Pandemic has accelerated growth for GeoChem and inspires more companies to go for quality-friendly process
It is said that the manpower is the most crucial and important asset for a company and the best part, as Manish says, is that all his team members accepted the challenges during pandemic wholeheartedly in order to give best of quality services in testing and inspection process. “People say business has gone down, but from quality point of view, it hasn’t gone down, rather companies are being more quality-friendly now. This is what our team has been able to achieve as we helped make industries realise the significance of quality processes so that their products don’t fail due to stringent parameters set by government agencies,” mentions Manish.
As a lot of regulations are changing and coming up in India, GeoChem is being accredited by all of them because of the fact that it pays serious attention to the quality of testing and inspection. Its Gurgaon location is approved by BIS for all capability of toys, electrical and leather footwear. “In totality, as per regulations, we are completely geared up. So, if a client comes and asks for testing as per BIS, we can do that. In spite of pandemic in 2020, we were doing testing and inspections for all the brands with more precautions,” states Manish.
GeoChem’s philosophy of expansion gets wings as new facilities are on the card
In the last one-and-a-half years, GeoChem has opened offices in few locations which are important markets from its business point of view. And, now time is coming when it is planning to expand these facilities in terms of manpower and testing capabilities. The company has been aggressively expanding its business in India as well.
New labs are coming up in various locations, including Bengaluru, which offer vast opportunities in apparel, packaging and electrical equipment manufacturing industries. Kolkata is a hub for footwear manufacturing and the fact is not hidden from GeoChem’s brilliant management. To cater to footwear industry in Kolkata and the eastern belt, the company has already planned to open a lab in West Bengal’s capital. Both Bengaluru and Kolkata labs are scheduled to be inaugurated in not more than six months.
What’s interesting is that GeoChem, unlike other labs did not rush to grab opportunities created by medical textile industry in the pandemic period as the PPE business developed into a multi-billion-dollar industry in no time! Manish reasons that the company’s philosophy never allowed it to jump the gun and enter the market without developing expertise and technical know-how, unlike others who just left no stone unturned to snatch market shares from each other – most of them not knowing what it takes to test a technical and critical product like PPE gown.
“Now that we have developed expertise in medical PPE testing, we are all set to integrate the same to our existing lab in Gurgaon. We didn’t become money-minded and kept safety aspect of the frontline workers on priority,” comments Manish.
The upcoming facility in Gurgaon lab for PPE testing will be equipped to do all critical tests such as micro-biological test, anti-bacterial test, blood penetration test and anti-viral tests.
Atmanirbhar Bharat mantra becomes a go-to mantra for GeoChem
One of the biggest differentiators for GeoChem has been its conscious alignment to the vision of the ‘Make in India’ dream by becoming the first and the only Indian company to provide inspection and quality services to the consumer industry. As Manish points out, except for GeoChem, no other lab has moved from Asia to the Western part of the world and established its footprints strongly. Although GeoChem has been Atmanirbhar since its inception, PM Modi’s mantra proved to be a big morale boost for the company.
One of the growth drivers is the increasing toy manufacturing industry in India. It’s a fact that only 5-6 per cent toys were being produced locally till 2020 but the production of toys in the country has seen exceptional growth recently because of industry-friendly policy of the Government that were made in last one year. What’s important here is that GeoChem is already strong in the testing of toys and the rising domestic toy production will bridge the gap in months to come.
Sustainability was just a buzz word before but the industry actually started working on it. India lacks facilities for cotton DNA testing but GeoChem has emerged as one of the first labs that does testing of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Cotton. While apparel exports have really been badly affected in India, it has been compensated by growing domestic retail industry to some extent…because of our huge population! However, Manish feels, domestic clothing retail has still not reached to a level where customers understand the fabric composition and make purchases according to what’s sustainable and what’s not. As per a recent survey of GeoChem’s marketing team in the overseas markets, only 8 per cent fashion consumers read the instructions written on washcare labels and in India, it is as low as 10 per cent. More awareness of sustainable brands needs to be there, and, fortunately, millennials are now catching up with the trend.