What do the world’s top intimate brands like Victoria’s secret, DKNY, Spanx and others have in common? Many of these are manufactured in Indonesia at Shyam Lal Uttam’s PT Busana Remaja Agracipta (BRA) a top 10 fused garments manufacturer worldwide.
PT Busana Remaja Agracipta was established in 1993 by Uttam in a partnership, specialising in the production of a wide range of underwear and body garments for export markets worldwide such as the USA, Europe and Australia. ‘After 1999 I began directly managing the company on a day to day basis following the economic crisis in Indonesia’ says Uttam.
‘We have grown from US$ 3 million to an over US$ 75 million company with 5000 strong staff and 3000 machines exporting to 16 countries’ says Uttam with a broad smile, an incredible growth by any standards. From his original factory in Tangerang, which is still in production and also his head office, Uttam also has two manufacturing plants in Yogyakarta in Indonesia and has now diversified to a factory in Bangladesh which is managed by his son, Vijay Uttam, a graduate from Wharton.
The company was also a recipient of the prestigious Primaniyarta export award 2013 by the government of Indonesia, and recognizes the constant and ongoing quality consciousness of successful Indonesian exporters who are then role models for other Indonesian exporters. ‘The jury was very impressed by the company’s performance’ narrates Uttam.
‘We successfully compete with China and our success is on account of three key dimensions: Full compliance to buyer needs and all the rules and regulations. Secondly, we have diversified our product range – from intimate wear to sportswear, and finally we are constantly upgrading our technology to foam cup development and bonded garment manufacturing.’ The high quality standards are maintained by the in-house research and design unit at PT BRA.
‘Hard work with a strategic focus will make you successful’ says Uttam ‘I come from a middle class service background in India, and it feels surreal when I look back.’ He moved to Indonesia as a manager with HMT to do a technical job in 1983 and at the end of his contract was to return to India. As he always wanted management education, he had applied and been accepted at INSEAD France. ‘My family did not want to leave Indonesia, so I joined a local businessman, Mr H.M. Mahtani at Wearwel, as a technical consultant for his garment manufacturing company.’ and soon became the GM.
He also took the opportunity to follow his dream of management education by doing a management course from Asian Institute of Management, Manila. ‘Business education gives insight into total operations of any business and gives you all the right tools. It makes any entrepreneur complete and equipped with the tools to manage his enterprise better’ he explains.
Inspired by his stints at Texmaco and Wearwel and with fresh management perspectives, Uttam set up his entrepreneurial venture in intimate wear manufacturing company. ‘I was keen to target the developed market and setup the first manufacturing unit with just 120 people and 80 machines in Tangerang.’ Uttam with his philosophy of ‘learning by doing’ also started a trading company with no prior knowledge or experience in 1999. ‘I was active in this trading company while my partner handled the manufacturing unit.’ During the economic crisis he had to make a choice between the 2 companies and took over the operations of the manufacturing company. He has not looked back since, ‘I am now on a fast train’ he says ‘if a person accepts a challenge, they can achieve and accomplish.’
Uttam believes in honest business practices with adherence to guidelines. He says ‘there are 2 types of people – workers and managers. The managers are empowered to identify issues and find appropriate solutions, whereas workers merely follow directions. It is all about adding value.’
He leads by example with a personal approach and through motivating his staff. He encourages them to be in constant pursuit of excellence with integrity. While he has setup stringent systems and standard operating procedures, Uttam believes in being open minded, pragmatic and being supportive of the his mostly young employees. ‘Success is meeting self made challenges and to excel. I have always dreamed of an organization where the people are self motivated and dedicated and this is what I have created.’
In line with his beliefs, the company has setup vocational training centers, and trainees are later absorbed as employees based on their capability and compatibility. ‘This has been very successful with over 9,000 trainees, 5,400 people who have become employees, and some have even become entrepreneurs.’
For all young entrepreneurs Uttam’s message is brief ‘Believe in yourself. Do it honestly with no shortcuts.’
By Poonam Sagar founder of www.indoindians.com – a community portal connecting India and Indonesia. She can be reached at [email protected]