The two pandemic years: Awadhesh Awasthi, Kanpur

By 14 Jan 2022

Avadhesh Awasthi, founder director of Kanpur-based Vidya Laminators, shares his thoughts about print's future with Harjinder Singh, the honorary treasurer of 2020-21 at the All India Federation of Master Printers and director at Swastika Printwell.

Avadhesh Awasthi, founder director, Vidya Laminators

Looking at the two pandemic years

During the lockdown, we managed to run our factory safely and carefully, as per the government norms, following all the government rules and regulations for Covid-19.

Like every other business, we also faced a lot of difficulties during the pandemic. But we are a manufacturer of essential goods. Consequently, we had followed all the government norms and kept working during the hard time to provide supplies to our customers. During the ensuing price hike, we informed all our customers and requested them for a price increase. But, of course, profit margins were reduced accordingly.

During the pandemic, we followed all the government rules regarding safety strictly and carefully. In our factory premises, masks, sanitisation and social distancing were made compulsory. We had also spread awareness among our workforce about the safety norms regarding Covid-19. During this period, regular monitoring and medical tests of the workforce were also done. We had also strictly monitored the vaccination of all our workforce.

Pandemic impact in Kanpur

Like the entire world, even Kanpur was affected during the pandemic. Most units faced troubles. A few units were closed. This resulted in the loss of jobs for workers, and the situation continued for some time.

As I am the president of the Kanpur Press Owners Association, I initiated a few steps in our association to help the industry and the people in our city. Following this, a few other associations also came to the aid of the industry, which is a good development for our city.

As for the business today, customers still want the material at the cost before the price hike on raw materials was implemented. However, this is no longer possible. The customers have now realised this and have accepted the new increased prices.

Brief history of Vidya Laminators

Our journey of service is now 125 years. It started with the establishment of a small printing press in the beginning of the 20th century under the guidance of Pt Lal Mani Ji Awasthi, my grandfather. His son, the late Pt Mahesh Dutt Ji Awasthi, expanded that small printing press into a complete printing unit with the latest type foundry and block-making unit.

I have expanded it further, first by adding offset machines and then by installing gravure printing machines with latest technologies, along with other related equipment, to make it one of the most modern packaging units in northern India. We started with offset printing and after that gravure printing and lamination (extrusion coating).

The sincere and honest efforts of team Vidya have resulted in expanding its business all over the country with reputed customers. We have also entered into the export market. We offer our products and services in segments such as food and beverages, FMCG products, toiletries (manufacturers of soap and detergents), pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, agro-product and many more, as packaging is required for all the products.

We prefer to make all our customers happy, especially those who are focused on quality and innovative approaches.

Recently, we developed an oxo-biodegradable coated paper packaging material called Eco-V-Pack, which is a heat-sealable, moisture proof with barrier property to maintain aroma and freshness of packed items. It is food-contact safe to meet the latest standards of the industry. When it gets exposed to an open environment after completing its shelf life, it starts to degrade in the presence of oxygen, sunlight and heat (UV) and then biodegrades in the same way as nature’s waste without leaving any toxic residue or any fragment of plastic.

This packaging is suitable for packaging of individual coffee/ tea bags envelopes, sugar sachet, salt sachet, spices, herbs, bread, chocolate, candy, ice-cream, different types of light weight and dry food items and medicines and many other items being packed in normal poly-coated paper.

Our factory is located in Panki Industrial Area, Kanpur, with 40,000-sqft covered area. As we are in the printing packaging business, we have a press plus post-press unit. We have installed and upgraded a lot of machines, but the eight-colour gravure printing machine (hi-speed) was the most important investment for us.

We have some workers who have been with us since the factory started, while others are associated with us for the last 20, 15, 10 years.

Key lessons from the pandemic

We were regularly monitoring and managing our inventory. But we got the real benefits of our inventory management system during the pandemic. By monitoring market forecasting and customer requirements, we were able to procure the raw material at the lowest price at the correct time.

So far as the print business in Kanpur is concerned, during the pandemic period, many of our print business associates were facing trouble due to declining orders and requirements. The print industry was in trouble due to the uncertainty of the work and jobs in the market. To survive, many of the print firms were doing the commercial short-run jobs during the period.

Post-Covid, in Kanpur, we have more challenges and less opportunities. This is making it difficult for every print business in the city.

I would like to see the changes for the betterment of our city. As our city is famous for industrial units and business houses, there is lots of scope in the development of skilled workers and technical staff, and for this, a technical institute should be established in Kanpur.

Our industry has faced so many different types of adversities in its print journey. My one piece of advice to cope up with the pandemic is this: “Our observation, proficiency and perspective are our strength to convert the challenges into opportunities and adopt a crisis management system to avoid this situation in future.”

Trivia about Kanpur

Tram transport was first introduced in Madras in 1895, then introduced in Kolkata, Mumbai, Kanpur, and Delhi. In June 1907, trams were introduced in Kanpur before Delhi and it became the fourth city in India to have tram transport covering four miles. This service was discontinued on 16 May 1933. And now, Kanpur Metro has started from 28 December 2021.

The Kanpur Memorial Church, originally called the All Souls Cathedral, was built in 1875 in honour of the British lives lost during the 1857 movement, popularly known in British History as the Siege of Cawnpore.

Bhitargaon in Kanpur district is known for its ancient Hindu temple, the largest Indian brick temple to survive from the time of the Gupta Empire. Despite being heavily restored, a number of original features remain. It is dated to the late 5th century. 

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