Despite the difficult situation in India and internationally, the financial year 2021 (April 2020 to March 2021) was the best ever for the equipment manufacturer Garware – with over 20 million dollars in profit after tax.
“Our first quarter was the most difficult in the company’s history. After the Indian government introduced lockdown overnight in March 2020, for the first time since the company was founded, our factories had to stay closed. We usually run continuous production 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for the Indian New Year,” said Vayu Garware.
Garware is based in Pune, a university city of seven million inhabitants and the historic capital of the state of Maharashtra, a three-hour drive east of Mumbai.
“There was a lot of fear of the unknown among our employees, and our focus shifted to crisis management and the safety of staff. In addition to daily crisis meetings where we developed systems to keep in touch with employees and ensure that their needs were met, we worked actively with the authorities to reopen the factories. The most touching thing was the trust our customers showed us in this difficult time. Even when our factories stood still, we continued to receive orders from breeders around the world. Through regular updates and close contact, they supported us throughout this period,” he said in a press release.
“When we had to start up again, we implemented very strict measures to secure the employees. Those who could work from home and in the factories, a number of measures were introduced to keep their distance, ensure hygiene, etc. All employees received training in good infection management by health personnel. We organized online / telephone health consultations for the employees and their families and we also provided support for hospitalizations, purchases of medicines and the like. Fortunately, less than one percent of our employees were infected, and we have now conducted vaccination programs for the employees and their families,” Garware continued.
SalmonBusiness visited Garware in March last year, just before the pandemic really flared up. The company produces airbags, party tents, football goals and trawl nets, but farming nets are becoming increasingly important. Among the most important customers is the target island company Selstad.
“India does not have a welfare state as you are used to in Norway and large parts of the health care system are private. Unlike many other companies, we ensured that there were no reductions in fixed salaries or that someone lost their job as a result of the pandemic. I believe this further strengthened the bond with the employees and motivated everyone to do their best for the company,” said Garware.
“With 80 tonnes of finished goods out every day, logistics is critical for us. To give a picture of the problems we faced: In India, 1.5 million trucks were left on the highways while drivers went to lockdown in their homes. We had to find drivers and rent them and trucks directly for each day to transport raw materials in and finished goods out.”
“Due to distance requirements, it was difficult to return to full production, but we quickly reached almost 80 per cent, which still means employment for around 4,000 people so it was a big challenge. We focused on bottlenecks and by – among other things – flying in extra machines, we were able to catch up with the production so that no customers were harmed. In fact, during nine months in 2021, we managed to ship as many goods as we did throughout 2020. We have received fantastic feedback from customers who appreciated our ability to deliver in such a situation,” he continued.
When the figures were summed up, last year turned out to be a record high.
“Despite the pandemic, the financial year 2021 was successful for the company. With the help of our employees’ efforts and invaluable support from our customers and distributors, we were able to move from break-even in the first quarter to a profit after tax of over $ 20 million. This is our best result ever, says Garware.
“Such a good performance in difficult times has also led to the stock market increasing confidence in us. For the first time, our market value exceeded one billion US dollars. Although this is an important milestone for us, it is even more important to deliver free cash flow, something we have also done in the last year.”