Vivek Kapoor – the man behind Creative Labels
Vivek Kapoor, Managing Director of Creative Labels in Navi Mumbai, is the second Kapoor to fulfil the role of President of LMAI (Label Manufacturers Association of India). With an office some 40 km away from his factory, he claims that delegation is a key part of his success. Harveer Sahni looks at the man behind the business, and sees a wealth of family experience that is clearly an invaluable source of information.
Vivek Kapoor is the current and longest serving President of LMAI (label manufacturers association of India). The history dates back two generations when, Lala Jai Dayal Kapur (grandfather of Vivek’s close ally Surinder Kapur), with support of his friend Lala Karam Chand Thapar (founder of Ballarpur Industries), started their paper trading business at Amritsar, where they had relocated from Lahore after partition of India. Around the same time Jai Dayal Kapur’s brother Ram Lal Kapoor also started his business in paper trading with a distribution agency from the then British owned Titagarh Paper Mills. Today, the extended Kapoor family, in true Punjabi tradition, has spread its wings across the paper and printing industries throughout India.
When Vivek Kapoor decided he wanted to become a businessman, it was his father Shashi Mohan who steered him towards labels by introducing him to Surinder Kapur, with whose father, Raj Kumar, he had worked in a financial capacity. Initially sensing that it might be unethical to set up in competition to a friend, he was soon assured that this was not the case, and in fact Surinder Kapur undertook to train Vivek Kapoor at his company’s R K Papers in Taloja. And so began the life of Vivek Kapoor in the label business, with a five-week training course at the plant of a rival converter, to whom he remains indebted because the single pass production that is offered by inline converting really sparked his imagination.
In 1996, at the age of 28, Vivek Kapoor set up Icon Prints in Navi Mumbai in partnership with his cousin. Their first label press was a four-colour Iwasaki semi-rotary machine. Early days posed many problems for the print novices, including confusing a customer’s request for LSD (Light Standard Dark) with a drug with the same initials, to learning that printing orange over black worked better than vice versa. But, he was a fast learner, and in 2000 installed a second label press, this time an Etipol.
Business was tough at the beginning, especially trying to sell blank labels in competition with small outfits doing work for cash, and after making a loss in year one, they considered closing down the company. The turning point came when Icon Prints moved into added value work for consumer goods manufacturers. At that time, FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies were all importing labels, so to compete successfully with them was a satisfying accomplishment. Vivek is also proud of being the first Indian printer to produce labels for the Brylcream seamless tubes, which were proving difficult to source, and turned into a new trend in the country.
As the business grew more successful, the partnership started to founder, with Vivek being ambitious and keen to invest for further growth, and his partner preferring the status quo. In 2007, the two parted company, with Vivek leaving Icon Prints to set himself up as Creative Labels Pvt Ltd. The new company took on a 4,500 sq/ft factory in Navi Mumbai and installed a seven-colour Iwasaki LR3 press, but struggled initially to establish a new customer base, especially as Vivek did not want to compete directly with his former partner.
Realising that the only way forward was to embrace the new technology that the narrow web market was pioneering, he invested in a Gallus EM 280 flexo press, which enable him to successfully gain a foothold in the market. Realising that short runs need a short web path to reduce waste on changeover, he soon added a Gallus ECS line. He claimed that while digital may well be the future of label printing, the established flexo technique offered security and good profits in the short term. Asked when he might take the plunge into digital he said: “We will grow as we grow – if we work hard, the growth will come naturally. The bottom line will guide us!” – a statement that betrays his accountancy background.
Last year, in 2013, Creative Labels acquired an industrial plot of land close to its factory and began building to accommodate expansion. The company now operates out of combined 12,000 sq/ft premises, employs 60 staff, and runs three presses. Vivek’s family also has a partnership interest in Kapco Prints (Offset Printers) at Chandigarh and Baddi (H.P.) in northern India, while his father and all six of his uncles are all still involved with print.
Vivek Kapoor has always taken a keen interest in the LMAI, and as President has been able to create a unique platform for the Indian label industry. After much hard work, he succeeded in establishing the inaugural Conference in Goa, which has since been successfully repeated and now holds a place in the calendar every other year. Under his leadership, members of the LMAI have been able to obtain Government subsidies from the Ministry of MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) for investment, travel and participation in trade shows, such as Labelexpo. In addition, under an initiative from Vivek Kapoor, numerous industry suppliers have given voluntary assistance with training for press operatives, which is essential if today’s sophisticated technology is to be put to its optimum use. It will also lay the foundations for improved operator availability throughout India.
One of the key problems facing all label converters today is waste, and India is no exception. With self-adhesive material having a 50% throwaway factor, the problem of waste going to landfill sites is enormous and has a negative impact on the environment. Each converter needs to take responsibility for his company’s waste management, and as President of the LMAI, Vivek Kapoor is well aware of the need to set a good example. “I firmly believe that it will be better for future generations if we leave behind a cleaner planet, and I will continue to find ways of implementing systems and environmentally friendly production processes,” he concluded.