Started with a 10ft x 10ft space in the name of Idea Factory, within one year it became Idea Factory Equipments Pvt. Ltd. Known popularly world over by its brand ‘ETCHCUT’, the company has been busy catering to the signage & export industry since 2004. It is an offshoot of a family-run business of Signs & Metal Etching with an enriching experience of almost four decades.
All these years, the company has been analysing the pros & cons of the technology used in this industry for etching and cutting metals. Thus the analysis has been put forth in the form of a new avatar – ETCHCUT – ‘Born in India & Brought-up Worldwide’!
The Company deals in wide range of chemical milling machines catering to signage industry, PCB etching machines, metal cutting machines, chemical etching machines in the name of Rapid Etcher, Rapid Exposure, Color Plus, Dual Jet Etching machine, Electroforming machines, Metal Stickers machines, Metallica, Platifier, Stripping machines and DES etching lines. These machines have been designed and fabricated by Etchcut with the intention to sort all the problems faced by etching and cutting industry.
We, at Sign & POP World, tried digging in the passion behind exploring new possibilities that Wadhwa Ajay, the Company’s Director of Possibilities keeps boasting of. The edited excerpt of what we received from him is as under:
The family-oriented business man believes that there is a journey destined for everyone. We only need to explore our ways. The secret to his success starts right from his father’s factory where etching was then done manually. At that point in time, he developed a small jet as part of his high school summer project to shift the process from manual to machine.
Going forward, lack of interest in studies and an inclination towards exploring new possibilities forced him to announce his break-up with college after 12th Standard. He then joined his father’s business where he couldn’t continue for long and moved out to work with hospitality industry. But soon he returned to his father, following a call back. There, he tried upping the etching process by getting installed a laser engraving machine with which he developed more possibilities in etching.
But, the thirst for more was still there and in 1997; he started the first ever personalised Indian website to sell Wooden Pen @ Rs.99 with the customer’s name engraved on it. For this, he rented some space in Music World in Ansal Plaza – the only mall in Delhi those days.
The product was named as ‘My Pen with My Name’ and the website was named after his father’s name as ‘Paul India’. It was then that he did this engraving experiment on seeds, which when sowed; the plant grew with name engraved on it. This development brought him in to limelight, attracting government’s attention. Eventually, he got a big project from the government.
The Third Beginning
In 2002, he went to China. There he found a partner with whom he started manufacturing of machines. While he used to design, the machines were manufactured at the partner’s facility. The partnership lasted for four years and he came back to the motherland. In 2007, he decided to manufacture etching machines in India. To start with, he took the ground floor of his father’s factory premises in Anand Parbat Industrial Area in New Delhi on rent for the purpose.
He didn’t share all of his development with Chinese partner. Eventually, he developed his first machine and waited for customers because the machine was highly priced in a market where only few respect quality. This showed him the way outside India and he started exploring overseas markets for his machines.
Exploring Domestic Market
Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not. In the following year i.e. in 2008, his factory was about to shut down. He had invested all his savings and there was no taker of the machines. It was then that he developed an all new application for a lampshed manufacturer, based in Moradabad (UP), who after some negotiations, got convinced and placed the order. This was supposedly the turning point for Idea Factory as the demand for machine started surging once again.
Venturing Overseas Destinations
But that was not enough. To meet rapidly increasing demand, he rented out one more factory in Anand Parbat to enhance the existing manufacturing capabilities. He developed a fleet of workers, trained them, and got them employed in the factory. In the meantime, he sold a machine to a Dubai-based sign maker, who later got him introduced to Sign Trade – one of the biggest trading enterprises in Dubai, having 22 branch offices and around 300 employees.
Sign Trade, which deals mainly in European, Japanese, Italian and American machines, found these machines up to the mark. A group from the purchase department of Sign Trade visited the Idea Factory in India, where it found that the capacity was too small citing the clientele of the international distributor. Still, they agreed to buy a few select ones to showcase the machines at SGI Dubai 2012.
But the order placed was too big to cater in the stipulated time as the Expo was scheduled just four months after. He refused to take the order as it wasn’t seemingly viable to manufacture and supply the demanded chunk within the given time frame. He doesn’t want to make false promises. Also, by that time, machines’ standard was not as per international market. Gradually, he did quite a few operational improvisations to raise the standard of his machines. This was the end of 2012.
The market was further expanding and the capacity enhancement was badly needed to push the supply following which he purchased the 20,000 sq ft land in DSIDC Narela Industrial Area – one of the posh industrial areas of Delhi, and in 2013, he shifted his Idea Factory to this place. In the next couple of years he continued his hard work and was able to supply machines to his customers located in 22 countries.
In 2015, he expanded his business to Iran, Maldives, Germany, Italy, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. As a part of his success strategy, he posted reviews of his customers from the above countries on the website for the world to know about the quality and commitment of Etchcut. It was the year in which EtchCut decided to launch its Made In India machines in China. So, it participated in the AppExpo 2015, received good response, and developed his clientele there.
It was in 2016 that he got an order from a Columbia-based customer for the world’s biggest automatic metal sticker making machine. During the deal, the customer also got quotations from a fake supplier and took long time to finally fix the trade terms with Etchcut.
As part of agreement and in order to satisfy customer, he went there, installed the machine, and recorded his feedback over a video wherein the customer, appreciating his dedication, specifically mentioned that in a factory on Christmas Day, a lone person is busy installing the machine. It shows his dedication to the trade and customer care.
With the start of 2017, as good words about Etchcut technology started spreading in Columbia, he installed three more units in there noting which the machine distributors started approaching him to take the job as the distributor of Etchcut in Columbia. He was fortunate enough as within a short span of just five months, he appointed a distributor in Columbia, following which he did a grand show there in June 2017.
To make the machines trouble free, he makes use of only those spare parts which are globally available. For example, all electrical parts fixed inside the machine are from Schindler, Hager and L&T, as these are locally available all across the globe. This is to avoid the anomalies at the price point.
In the meantime, after such a long association with market, he learned that it’s his own passion and it’s only he who can nurture it further. So, he decided to personally look after the market, take care of complaints if any, and try eliminating the loopholes/discrepancies by improving in the next batch of production. In this way, he tries to make maintenance-free machines to avoid any service dependency of his customers.
Matching International Standard
He communicated to his customers that at Etchcut in Delhi, the same Simona brand of PVC Sheets from Germany are imported which the European used to manufacture their machines. He also told them that even the process of welding the sheets is same. He added that he bought the welding equipment from Switzerland for the best result. All these helped him winning the confidence of his international customers.
Today, he claims to export to as many as 22 countries where he has appointed distributors. The 23rd is Columbia, which has been recently added to his distributor list. He claims that Idea Factory is the world’s first company that manufactures the pumps in-house. Also, it is the only one which recycles German scrap sheets to granules and remoulds them for making spare parts. As a result, the machines produced from Idea Factory become maintenance –free.
The company boasts of a well-equipped state-of-art facility from where it dispatches 50 machines every month. All the machines are manufactured in its facility, which is spread across 20,000 sq. ft. where the raw material is stocked for not less than 100 machines at a time. All the machines go through rigorous testing procedure to adhere to the strict European norms. Even the packaging has been improved to replicate the international practice.
PVC Sheets for making machines are cut on CNC router that results in huge accumulation of scraps. These are then recycled to get converted in to granules to be used in manufacturing dyes and spare parts – a step towards backward bending.
With these many resources at hand, the company started producing pumps in-house adhering to Japanese standard. This enabled him to control lot of other things to maintain quality, aiding further to the strength by manufacturing maintenance-free machines along with the spare parts. He recalled that it’s been eight years since the company has not purchased plastics from outside for internal use.
Every three years, he develops one new product and file patent for the same. Till date, he has applied for 14 patents, none of which has been awarded yet. The most recent application that he has developed is for jewellery world, which has been appreciated by the jewellers’ fraternity. Soon, it will attract huge demand.