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In a mould of his own

Networking is key to climbing the corporate ladder, emphasizes D Kumar Pillai who set up Oriyon Molding that manufactures plastic molded components for high-profile companies in India and abroad, writes MICHAEL FISHERIt was in 1999 that D Kumar Pillai established Oriyon Molding in a rented shed at Corlim Industrial Estate with an initial capital of ` 5 lakh which he borrowed from a bank.

Starting with two employees, 16 years down the line, the shed today has been developed into an office building with the factory on the ground floor. The company’s assets have grown 300 per cent with future plans to increase manufacturing capacity for meeting new orders.

Pillai’s career graph began at the age of 29 when he reached its zenith as manager (operations) in India at AVT Group, Kerala, which happens to be the largest tea and rubber producing company. With little or no further growth prospects in AVT, he began seeking new growth avenues.

“Simultaneously, my father wanted me to be an IAS officer, but my expertise in the field of manufacturing and marketing motivated me to start a venture of my own,” he says. “I was attracted to Goa because of its environmental beauty, and I learnt that it had many industrial estates, with new ones coming up.”

So, bolstered by success and with bigger dreams, he came to Goa in the late 1990s and joined Canvas Shoe Company, an associate of the popular Carona Ltd, Bombay. Subsequently, he left the company and joined Medimix Group.

“Being an extrovert, I emerged into the Goan lifestyle by joining various clubs such as Lions Clubs, industry associations and British Business Group. I was excited and saw a lot of potential as I networked with these groups. I discovered a niche market waiting to be tapped. In 1999, I took on rent a shed at Corlim Industrial Estate and started a plastic product manufacturing company by installing an injection molding machine to produce molded components and thermoformed items. The first manufacturing order came from Funskool India Ltd to make toys. Orders from IFB Industries Ltd followed and we went on to supply up to 15 different components for IFB washing machines” informs Pillai.

Oriyon Molding ventured into new verticals by manufacturing and supplying disposable products for air caterers operating in Goa such as Taj Sats and Gate Gourmet. “Till date in Goa we believe that we are the sole suppliers of disposable food trays for air passengers,” he says.

Another feather in Oriyon Molding’s cap was becoming a supplier for Tyco Electronics – a leading US electronics company – to manufacture and supply packaging trays for packing relays used by Boeing and Airbus Industries.

As time went by, Oriyon Molding’s name took wings and more companies started to approach them for manufacturing their products. Currently, they are the preferred suppliers for A W Faber Castell Ltd, Germany.

Oriyon is looking to scale up its manufacturing capacity to match growing requirements and is on track for continued growth. Negotiations are currently on with another US company for manufacturing of coverings and casings.

He says being an ISO 9001:2008 certified organization, its plastic molded components meet the varied requirements of FMCG, pharmaceuticals, automotive, electrical, electronic and packaging industries.

A first generation entrepreneur in the family, Kumar is credited with three decades of experience in manufacturing and marketing and serves customers across various sectors in India and abroad.

He is currently the chairman of Goa Management Association (GMA), and was a member of the governing council of All India Management Association (AIMA), and a managing committee member of Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), British Business Group, Goa (BBG), Goa States Industries Association (GSIA), among others.

He was awarded the coveted Udyog Ratna award for corporate excellence by the National Education and Human Resources Development Organisation. He has been an active member of the Lions Clubs International for the last 25 years.

Kumar believes that for Goa to branch off into manufacturing, the government must reduce bureaucratic interference. Ease of doing business in India is rated 142 of 189 countries. For ease of starting a business in India, it stands at 158, which is very poor. Unless these parameters are improved then only employment can be generated and ‘Make in Goa’ can be a success.

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