This state-of-the-art manufacturer is ready to compete with the world's best factories.
Ranju Mahtani is proof of that adage that it’s not where you start it’s where you finish. In 1984 Epic, then owned by one of his relatives, sent him to Bangladesh as an intern. At that time the company had just started sourcing out of the subcontinent and was looking to establish themselves as agents out of Bangladesh. Mr. Mahtani was tasked with setting up the office and getting the business started.
Within three years he’d built it to a US$25 million business. By 2005 he owned the business.
Leveraging this success, by the early ‘90s Epic became manufacturers and now employs 25,000 people in its Bangladesh facilities and produces over 4 million garments per month.
“Our success came from being hands on,” said Mr. Mahtani. “Our thought process is different. We never set up a typical Bangladesh factory.”
Epic offers a full package that includes design, management and planning and financial services. Unlike most factories that are simply providing CM (cut and make) their objective is to offer both high quality manufacturing and outstanding service.
Epic also offered design service when other Bangladesh factories were still only focused on a CM (cut and make) business model. The company also was an early adopter of advanced logistics and EDI services.
“Through the use of EDI systems we are able to maintain certain basic items on a year round basis, such as blue oxford shirts or men’s chinos. We have inventory of these core items and, through POS feedback, are able to monitor sales on a daily basis and then replenish stocks on a weekly basis,” he explained.
Juggling the price/value equations remains a key challenge for both manufacturers and retailers. Epic has been quick to recognize the request for increasing quality in apparel, while still maintaining competitive prices.
“Even in a country like Bangladesh that has an abundant and low cost labor supply, we still need to focus on efficiency. We are continually re-engineering our factories to boost efficiency,” said Mr. Mahtani.
Epic was one of the first manufacturers in Bangladesh to train its workers to multi-task.
“We are one of the few factories in Bangladesh where we can actually have an operator sitting on one machine for two hours ... then moving to another machine,” Mr. Mahtani said. This more sophisticated work process is rarely seen in Bangladesh.
Better Information, Better Decisions
A sophisticated manufacturer like Epic realizes the critical role of having access to accurate market information. “I read Inside Fashion to get a supplier-side view of what’s happening in the industry. It enables me to get the real picture of the market,” said Mr. Mahtani.
It Comes Down to Service
Increasingly, success for both manufacturers and retailers is about partnerships. This is a concept that Epic has embraced from the beginning.
“We need to keep adding value to what the customer does,” Mr. Mahtani said. The only way to do that is with a good understanding of the customer.
“Our philosophy is that we take care of the headaches, the problems, the hassles so that the customer can sleep,” he explained. “We want our customers to know that when they place an order with us, that they can rely us to handle all the details for them.
“Buyers always want to find the cheaper prices, but cheaper can also have a high cost. Our factories have always had high compliance standards. We are not the lowest cost manufacturer, but our customers can feel confident that they won’t face compliance issues,” said Mr. Mahtani.