Kerala’s Own Temple of Engineered Wood
Western India Plywoods Limited is one of largest woodworking complexes in Asia. Its product bouquet is well-known for its variety: it includes various hardboards including pre-finished boards, plywoods of all varieties, densified wood which are a key ingredient for the engineering industry, pressboards which demand high precision machines to make, wooden floors, furniture, veneers… It’s a supermarket where one can find every engineered wood product. Some of India’s best companies, multinationals included, are its clients. Indian Railways, BHEL and car manufacturers such as Maruti, Ford, Toyota and Hyundai regularly source their hardboards from WIP. The company, which has annual production capacity of 34,500 tonnes, maintains its leadership position in the Indian hardboard market. It also exports a range of products to the Gulf nations, Africa, Australia, Southern Pacific Islands and Europe.
Started by visionary entrepreneur A K Kaderkutty in Valapattanam in Kannur district in 1942 as a tea-chest factory, the company scaled heights with a unique combination of love for technology, visionary entrepreneurship, commitment to quality and excellent workmanship. Its plants are state-of-the-art; its visitors include, apart from rulers and industrialists, some of the world’s best wood technologists. It has a vibrant research and development department; its library with over 6,000 titles is a reference point for academicians. The company holds the distinction as the first Indian company to manufacture irradiated wood, fire-retardant wood and to use UV-cured surface finish technology. One if its latest products is press-boards used as insulating material for power transformers.
While most of its products are industrial raw material, the company also has started manufacturing products for the home care segment. They include wooden floorings and furniture, which are a mix of hardwood and engineered wood. The company is one of the few to recognize the value of natural resources. It follows the dictum its founder made for it: 100 per cent utilization of wood.
Every single piece of raw material that enters the company premise is made into a value-added product. It even started a briquetting unit recently, which fuels its boilers. The company runs a vermi-compost unit, fed by the bark and mud on the logs, and uses manure thus obtained in its own vegetable garden.
The company recently started its operations in Malaysia where it established a veneer plant. “We anticipated a shortage in quality raw material and hence we went for a joint venture in Malaysia,” said Mr P K Mayan Mohamed, managing director.
Good governance is key to the functioning of the company. Says managing director Mayan Mohamed, “My grandfather who founded the company has given us strict instructions: as a public limited company, we are custodians of public money. Our first commitment will be to them. And we should service our debt promptly. All others come next.”
No wonder KSIDC has found WIP one of the best companies among its clients.