N R Agarwal Limited (NRAIL) might be the seventh largest paper manufacturer in India, but the company is number one when it comes to saving the environment with its recycled paper products. Present in two sectors of manufacturing – one creating duplex board and the other producing newsprint, writing and printing paper – this forward-thinking company uses waste, reimagined.
“All of our operations convert recycled paper into finished paper,” Chairman and Managing Director of NRAIL RN Agarwal says. “Essentially, we are saving the environment by reusing paper that would normally be dumped into landfill. By recycling, we consume less water and power, too. It’s very eco-friendly. The product itself is biodegradable, and the demand for this type of sustainable packaging is only going to continue to rise.”
NRAIL was created in 1993 on the heels of RN’s late father’s long career in the paper industry. “My father, NR Agarwal, with his interest and knowledge in paper, started this venture,” RN says. “Together, we saw an opportunity in recycling. We felt that we would be big players in the industry if we could expand into this segment.”
So, that’s exactly what they did. Armed with an MBA and an engineering degree, RN utilised his sound business and analytical skills to help catapult the paper-producing company to success. “The industry was very small at that time,” RN explains.
“But we have continued to grow year after year. We diversified in terms of paper itself, from duplex board to newsprint and then from newsprint to writing and printing. And, now, we are in nearly every segment of paper, except kraft paper.”
In the next three to five years, RN is looking to become one of the top five paper suppliers in India. “Today, we are seventh,” he says. “Since the growth of paper in India is moving in tandem with the GDP growth, which is about 7 to 7.4%, we see there would be a growth of at least 6 to 7% every year in paper. And because we’re a formidable player in the recycled field, we have a lot of scope in the future to expand and benefit from this.”
However, NRAIL wouldn’t be the power player it is today without some challenges. From sourcing raw materials to price fluctuations in the market, RN stresses the importance of staying at the forefront of innovation when it comes to a successful strategy.
“For the past two years, we have been focused on improving our efficiency and have spent substantially on these efforts,” he shares. “We’ve upgraded our machinery, investing in all new technology to reduce our power and enhance our yield. We feel the improvements we are making in efficiency will allow us to face any sort of competition in the future.”
“We feel the improvements we are making in efficiency will allow us to face any sort of competition in the future.”
The company’s prime location near Mumbai and the port also gives it a competitive edge. “We’re strategically located in the Western market,” he says. “I don’t foresee any major challenges in selling my product in the Indian market, and the export market is there. I feel that we are well placed as far as packaging sector growth is concerned. So, sales-wise, we are confident that we will be able to sell whatever we produce. My product speaks for itself.”
RN also credits NRAIL’s success to its long-term relationships. “Approximately 85% of our customers have been with us since the beginning, and we’ve utilised nearly all of the same key suppliers since our inception, too,” he says. “It’s a win-win situation.
“Even though we don’t have any long-term contracts in place, our suppliers and customers have stuck with us since day one. Our suppliers can count on us to keep ordering from them, and our customers choose us because we provide the best quality, the best price and peace of mind, knowing they will get their products delivered in a timely manner.”
Of course, behind every successful organisation is a strong team of invested employees. “I can boast of a very good team of professionals in my company,” RN says.
“My marketing team has created an extensive reach across all of India. My strong professional team, department-wide, helps me make the right decisions to take NRAIL in the right direction. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”
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