Cheap manpower, easy availability of land and good work culture find favour among SSIs

Motor pumps, flavoured milk, fabrics, textiles, automobiles, silver jewellery, Turkish towels, kitchen equipment, biscuits and plastic bottles — the list of products which are manufactured in the district are long and diverse.

“Industries here have been supplying automobile parts, washing machine spare parts and even valves used in nuclear plants,” says M. Chandrasekaran, chairman of Made in Madurai’ expo, put up at the Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association (MADITSSIA) hall here. “Many people remain largely unaware of the extent of the manufacturing prowess of the micro, tiny and small scale industries here. We hoped to make this an effective platform to create awareness as well as to promote entrepreneurial motivation and trading activity,” he explains.

True to its name, the ‘Made in Madurai’ expo, held over three days and concluded on Sunday had on display, both consumer durable and non-consumer durable products manufactured exclusively from the district. “Even though an expo like this will not contribute to sales, I wanted to show people that there are products manufactured here which are in demand world over,” explains V. Senthil Kumar, who heads Kwality Coil Products, which supplies springs to many leading automobile manufacturers in the country.

In over the 100 stalls that displayed machine parts, steel equipment, rubber products, fabrics, textiles and jewellery, people who started these small industries have made the most of what the district has to offer.

Good work environment

“The work culture here is an extremely amicable one,” says Mr. Senthil Kumar. “There are very few instances of employee strikes. Problems such as absenteeism are also rare. People are eager to learn and as a result easy to train,” he asserts.

Most entrepreneurs agree that cheap manpower, easy availability of land, compared to the rest of the State, have been a major plus point. “For products such as ours, we find easy takers in the market which is an advantage since we don’t have to look elsewhere for customers,” explains T.T. Sethuram from Jayashree Spun Bond which manufactures non-woven fabrics.

“However, the bleak power situation in the State has been a big drawback. Most manufacturing industries have had a tough year,” he rues.

For entrepreneurs such as K.S. Rubini, identifying a niche demand and catering to it has proven to be successful. Her company UShine Home Consumables offers eco-friendly disinfectants that can be used in houses. “Despite the existence of many disinfectants in the market, we developed products with the USP of being eco-friendly which is in demand at the moment,” she says and is justified by the crowds thronging her stall at the expo.

Cashing in on such unique marketing aspects has been something essential to many of these small-scale entrepreneurs who cannot afford to have large marketing or advertising budgets. “The expo in itself has proven to be a platform to meet prospective customers. I have had customers to whom I sold products on the first day come and give me feedback,” says Ms. Rubini.

Neat and attractive packaging as well as good quality can make up for a skyrocketing marketing budget, feels C. Siva Kumar who runs Vasana Food Products. “Gauging the customer expectations on the first day, I added a live-demo to my stall and needless to say, the sales have significantly improved,”, he says with a smile. Crowds throng his live-demo counter where the company’s signature product, vegetable omelette, is being prepared.

“Participating in expos like these will also give first-time entrepreneurs a sense of how to promote their products. Many stalls have made changes to their place settings, banners, products and display and so on based on the response of the public,” says K.P. Murugan, the vice-president of MADITSSIA.

Despite the backing and conducive environment that the district has to offer for MSMEs, there still remains a reluctance to take the plunge into entrepreneurship among youngsters, feel many of these entrepreneurs.

“Colleges should make it a point to encourage entrepreneurship and make students feel confident. Most students are driven to only worry about securing a job in a reputed company like their peers,” rues T.S. Rambhilaash Babu , partner of the Jayashree Spun Bond manufacturing company.

“With so many industries which have set the right precedent, we can only hope that more people are encouraged to make a foray into small-scale businesses,” he says matter-of-factly.

More In: Madurai