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Interview with Sumeet Sharma

Sumeet Sharma
Sumeet Sharma
Director Sales
Sun Textile Engineers
Sun Textile Engineers

Redefining excellence in textile machinery
Established in 1976, Sun Textile Engineers, with nearly five decades of experience, excels in manufacturing, ensuring reliability and efficiency in every product that it makes. 
Founded by Vijay Sharma, a visionary engineer whose leadership has been crucial to the company’s success, Sun Textile Engineers has laid a robust foundation with a strategic focus on the emerging markets of Surat and India. Under his guidance, the company has established a strong presence, becoming a well-recognised and respected name in the industry.
Located in the bustling textile and industrial hub of Sachin GIDC, Surat, Gujarat, Sun Textile Engineers operates a state-of-the-art 30,000-square-foot workshop, equipped with comprehensive in-house facilities. The company prides itself on its team of about 150 skilled professionals, including seasoned engineers and service technicians who have been with the company since its inception. This dedicated workforce is the company’s backbone, driving its commitment to quality and innovation as it aims to deliver world-class equipment while maintaining a formidable reputation.
Considered a pioneer in the textile machinery sector, Sun Textile Engineers has been producing a range of textile processing machines that serve as crucial import substitutes in India. The company was the first in the country to manufacture rotary drum and WR Silkyna machines, demonstrating its trailblazing spirit. 
This commitment to provide top-tier solutions aligns with the company’s goal to manufacture world-class machines domestically.
Today, Sun Textile Engineers offers an extensive and varied product portfolio, including rotary drum washers, soft flow dyeing machines, overflow top tube dyeing machines, long turbo jet dyeing machines, u-type jet dyeing machines, caustic weight reduction machines, universal loop steamers/polymerising units, hydro extractors, beaker dyeing machines (lab), rope form washing machines, drying ranges with mangles, and wider width washing ranges (soapers), and each product is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, meeting the rigorous demands of the textile industry, to deliver exceptional performance and longevity.
Quality is a non-negotiable priority at Sun Textile Engineers and every stage of production, from raw material procurement to final product, undergoes stringent quality control measures, which goes into ensuring each piece of equipment that comes from the house of Sun Textile Engineers is not only fit for purpose but also built to last, offering excellent value even when acquired second-hand. 
The company’s brand name, “SUN,” is synonymous with years of trouble-free service and reliability.
Armed with a B.Tech degree in Instrumentation and Automation from Mumbai University and a PGDM in Marketing Management from NMIMS, Mumbai, Sumeet Sharma joined the business started by his father and since 2020, has been leading the company’s marketing and sales efforts, bringing a fresh perspective and strategic acumen that are driving Sun Textile Engineers to new heights in today’s competitive landscape.
Recently, Fibre2Fashion had the opportunity to interview Sumeet Sharma, Director Sales at the company’s manufacturing unit in Sachin, Surat. The discussion provided valuable insights pertaining to the company’s extensive product offerings, distinctive market position, and Sumeet’s ambitious plans and strategies for its future growth. 

The growth story of Sun Textile Engineering is amazing. How has it evolved over the years?

Sun Textile Engineering was founded by my father, Vijay Sharma, in 1976. He is an engineer with a deep passion for textiles and machine manufacturing. He started the company as a small start-up with a vision to innovate in the textile industry. 
Over the years, he has remained the backbone of the company, overseeing backend operations and production, ensuring that our products maintain the highest standards of quality and reliability.
As the second generation in the business, I have taken on the role of managing marketing and sales. This division of responsibilities allows us to leverage our strengths effectively. My father’s extensive experience and technical expertise are crucial for the operational and manufacturing side of the business. Meanwhile, I focus on expanding our market presence both within Gujarat, nationally, and globally.
Our approach can be described as a “1 plus 1 equal 11” strategy, where the combined efforts of my father and me result in a constructive collaboration that significantly multiplies our effectiveness rather than just adding up. His role is pivotal in ensuring the smooth production of high-quality textile machinery, which forms the backbone of our offerings. 
In contrast, my job revolves around ensuring that our innovative products reach the right markets and meet customer needs.
Our partnership is built on the foundation of complementary skills.

What is the portfolio of textile machineries that you manufacture, and what sets them apart from others?

Sun Textile Engineers began with the production of two primary machines: the rotary drum washer machine and the caustic recovery weight reduction machine.
Rotary Drum Washer Machine: This machine primarily processes polyester fabrics, although it has since diversified in application. It provides shrinkage and weight reduction to greige (raw, unfinished) polyester fabric. The machine’s unique beating effect ensures a free flow feel and adds a desirable heaviness to the fabric by shrinking it. This process enhances the quality and texture of the fabric, preparing it for subsequent treatments.
Caustic Weight Reduction Machine (Sofleena): This processes polyester fabric post-treatment in the drum washer. It sets the fabric on a stenter and then subjects it to a caustic process, which reduces the fabric’s weight per linear metre. This is achieved by burning down the oligomers in the greige fabric, resulting in a lustrous finish. The treated fabric then proceeds to dyeing and other finishing processes.
From these foundational machines, Sun Textile Engineers expanded its product line to include several advanced textile machinery types:
Long Tube Jet Dyeing Machines: These machines cater to the increasing demand for high-quality fabrics. Unlike traditional U-jet dyeing machines, which are more economical but suitable for lower quality, the long tube jet dyeing machines offer superior performance for woven and knitted fabrics, especially those with a high GSM (grams per square metre) and materials sensitive to crease marks, such as polyester and microfibers.
Soft Flow Dyeing Machines: The Sun Twin Soft Flow machine represents a significant advancement in rope dyeing technology, overcoming the limitations of U-jet or long tube jet systems. It provides gentle yet effective dyeing, ensuring high-quality fabric processing.
U Jet Dyeing Machine: This machine features a unique structure designed for the degradation of PET fabrics, setting a new standard in handling synthetic materials.
Piece Dyeing Machine: Combining the principles of a rotary drum machine with conventional dyeing techniques, this machine offers versatile dyeing capabilities for fabrics, with capacities of 200 kg and 400 kg.
Continuous Multi-Chamber Rope Washer: This machine addresses the limitations of existing rope processing equipment, offering improved processing sequences for various fabrics.
Continuous Multi-Chamber Open Width Washer: The washing performance of this machine depends on fabric type, water quality, water flow, production speed, liquor exchange rate, and temperature. It is the only machine equipped with an exclusive VIBRO system.
Universal Loop Ager: This machine is used for the fixation of dyes on fabric through polymerisation in hot air at 150°C. It is a versatile piece of equipment for curing, steaming, and polymerising fabrics.
We also offer a range of ancillary machines that support various stages of fabric processing and treatment.
Each machine in our portfolio is designed to address specific needs within the textile manufacturing process, offering innovative solutions and high performance. Our machines are known for their efficiency, quality output, and advanced technological features, making them indispensable in fabric dyeing, printing, washing, and treatment processes.
By continuously innovating and expanding our product range, Sun Textile Engineers has positioned itself as a leader in the textile machinery industry, catering to the diverse needs of fabric manufacturers.

Given the prevalent cost-conscious mindset, how do you propose to redefine the understanding of how quality influences price?

Yes, you are right about the cost-conscious mindset of the customers. However, we are witnessing a significant shift in mindset within the industry lately. 
While historically, there was a strong focus on minimising costs, today, there is a notable transition towards prioritising quality. This change is reflective of evolving preferences across generations. 
Presently, there is a prevalent emphasis on quality, even if it entails a higher initial investment.
An illustrative example of this paradigm shift can be seen in the case of the UJ Dyeing Machine. This machine, while economically priced and straightforward functionally, has its own set of challenges towards delivering the desired touch and feel to the fabric compared to other alternatives available in the market. 
Interventions such as long tube dyeing machines and O-type soft flow dyeing machines are gaining traction due to their superior quality output.
Recently, I encountered a situation where a local company initially intended to invest in UJ dyeing machines due to their lower capital costs. However, through discussions regarding parameters and vision, they opted for a soft flow dyeing machine instead. 
This decision underscores the changing mindset wherein businesses prioritise achieving remarkable results over mere cost minimisation. This trend has been advantageous for us, leading to a surge in queries, including those from large-scale operations.
To put things in perspective, the industry’s focus is shifting towards quality-centric approaches, indicating a departure from the traditional quantity-centric mindset and this shift not only aligns with evolving consumer preferences but also presents opportunities for businesses to thrive by delivering superior quality products.

Considering the changing market dynamics, marketing and sales must also adapt to the emerging trends. Your take?

Absolutely! My strategy thus revolves around guiding and educating rather than resorting to aggressive sales tactics. 
I firmly believe that demonstrating the machine’s capabilities firsthand is pivotal in fostering trust and confidence among potential buyers. This personalised approach, coupled with the solid foundation of goodwill we have built over 40 years, has been fundamental to our achievements. 
Furthermore, I place immense importance on being receptive to customer feedback and requirements. It is essential for me to thoroughly grasp the unique needs of each client and integrate them into our ongoing research and development endeavours. 
By prioritising this customer-centric approach, we ensure that our products and services remain finely tuned to meet the evolving demands of the market, which not only strengthens our relationships with them but also propels our continued success and growth in the industry.

Staying ahead in today’s age requires continuous innovation. Could you elaborate on the strategies and resources allocated to research and development to ensure competitive edge?

Research and Development (R&D) is indispensable in our industry. Our methodology entails thorough examination of top-tier machines from world over, particularly from Europe, enabling us to tailor innovations to our market’s specific requirements. 
With a wealth of technical expertise at our disposal, we prioritise crafting unique solutions rather than mere imitations. Integral to our R&D process is the incorporation of customer feedback, acting as a guiding force in understanding market dynamics and crafting our product offerings accordingly.
While some technologies are currently patented to European standards, we are rapidly bridging this gap. I hold firm belief in India’s dedication to innovation and development, which I am confident will catapult us beyond existing benchmarks in near future. 
Through our steadfast commitment to innovation, we aspire to redefine industry norms and cement our position as a pioneering force in textile engineering.

With a focus on quality, how do you balance the price and ROI concerns?

Our core focus lies in delivering value rather than resorting to overselling tactics. Each of our machines is meticulously designed with a focus on efficiency and longevity, guaranteeing a robust return on investment for our clients. 
Although our sales volume may not match that of some competitors, we pride ourselves on upholding a sterling reputation for quality, which ultimately translates into higher resale values for our machines. 
Furthermore, our readiness to tailor machines to accommodate specific requirements adds another layer to our competitive advantage.
By prioritising value, we ensure that our clients receive products that not only meet but exceed their expectations, thus solidifying long-term relationships and fostering trust in our brand. 
This approach not only distinguishes us from competitors but also reinforces our commitment to delivering unparalleled quality and customer satisfaction. Through our dedication to providing tailored solutions and maintaining the highest standards of quality, we continue to set ourselves apart in the marketplace, positioning Sun Textile as a trusted leader in the industry.

As a second-generation entrepreneur, what novel approaches are you employing to drive growth?

One of the key areas I am focusing on is revamping our infrastructure. This involves modernising our existing facilities and incorporating the latest technologies to enhance operational efficiency. 
By doing so, we can streamline our processes, reduce downtime, and improve overall productivity.
In terms of workforce management, I am planning to implement smart employee management systems. These systems help us distribute resources more effectively, ensure optimal staffing levels, and provide our employees with better tools and support to perform their jobs efficiently. 
This approach while reducing cost also promotes a sustainable and engaging work environment for the team.
We are also expanding our product portfolio by exploring new product lines, such as garment dyeing machines. These new offerings are designed to meet emerging market demands and provide our customers with innovative solutions. 
These are some of the measures we are implementing to stay ahead of the curve.

Any upcoming innovations/projects that you would like to share with our readers?

At Sun Textile Engineering, we are deeply committed to advancing our product offerings and solidifying our position as a market leader and a key focus of our efforts is the development of superior garment dyeing machines. These machines are designed to meet the highest standards of efficiency and reliability, addressing the evolving needs of our customers and the industry at large. 
By integrating advanced technologies into our existing product line, we ensure that our solutions remain at the forefront of innovation, providing enhanced performance and exceptional value.
Our vision is to be recognised for unparalleled quality. To achieve this, we are continually investing in research and development, leveraging the latest technological advancements to enhance our products. This commitment to innovation besides driving continuous improvement of our existing offerings also enables us to introduce groundbreaking new solutions that set new benchmarks in the industry.

In your view, what are the current obstacles Surat encounters as a textile hub, and what steps can the government take to assist the SMEs?

I would not say challenge, but a key issue that the industry should introspect about is the impulsive decision-making by some players and an over-reliance on job work, which can hinder long-term strategic growth. 
However, there is a promising trend towards vertical integration within the industry, which is very good. This shift allows companies to control more aspects of their production process, from raw material to final product manufacturing. By reducing dependency on external suppliers and job work, vertical integration can enhance operational efficiency, improve product quality, and increase profitability. This strategic move signals substantial growth potential for Surat’s textile sector.
Government support remains crucial for sustaining and accelerating this growth trajectory. Targeted policies and initiatives can provide the necessary framework for infrastructure development, technological upgrades, and skill enhancement, which are essential for the industry to compete on a global scale. 
Given the intense competition from countries within the subcontinent and the new and upcoming hubs in Africa and other places, increased support and collaboration between the government and industry stakeholders are imperative, which only will propel India’s textile industry to new heights, ensuring continuous growth and global competitiveness.
Interviewer: Deepankar Shyam
Published on: 01/06/2024

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.