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Carving a niche globally – Sarathi International - Mr. Sapthagiri S. Boggaram,

A incense sticks manufacturing company which has made its mark in the international market. A majority of the products is being exported to more than 40 countries. Made its presence in every continent. It is truly an honor to stand out globally for quality. An eye-opening experience of learning about Sarathi International Incorporation. Mr. Sapthagiri is the third-generation business owner who shared some of the amazing insights of the successful journey they have had so far.

What keeps the workforce going?
The “willingness to work” is the basic pre-requisite for this industry. 70% of the workforce are women. Most of them start working as early as the age of seventeen and would have discontinued studies. They are not aware initially of the work culture and the seriousness of the work. They are taken aback of the discipline when they start working like adhering to work timings, reporting on time every day etc. The statutory compliance like PF and ESI deductions bothers them initially. After 3-4 months, they start identifying themselves with the organization. They take a lot of pride in displaying their identity cards, proximity cards and work uniforms with the company logo on the coats. A sense of belongingness sets in as they are valued and respected.  The fact that they can spend their salaries as they wish apart from contributing to the family makes them feel empowered. Every employee carries the air of pride.
As the clarity of the work contribution of every employee sets in the mindset that, they are a part of the bigger goal, the approach towards work takes a huge shift. They start realizing the culture of the organization. 

Listening to employees helped in employee loyalty and productivity
The work-force that we are dealing with is urban poor. They lack security schemes or government policies as compared to the rural poor. There was a reluctance in using toilets in the work-place and the maintenance was unwilling to clean the toilets because of hygiene issues. The NGO(World of Women) headed by my wife which takes care of women issues was invited to educate the women employees about health and personal hygiene and addressed their issues through various sessions. The company sponsored a kit which takes care of the menstrual hygiene for a year.  The hygiene in the toilets improved as they follow a disposal system. After implementation of this system, absenteeism reduced. 
On May day, sponsored outings are planned for a full day as per their choice. The first time when we introduced this, the whole workforce came and thanked me personally. It was only then I realized that most of them got to travel for the first time without their parents or husband accompanying them.
 The annual bonus is converted to gifts of their choices and needs (for example blankets, pressure cooker or utensil set) instead of cash benefits.
The 2-way connection and communication which has nothing to do with daily production has translated to increase in loyalty and productivity.  It is a win-win situation for both of us as a happy employee does a quality job.

What were the challenges faced to implement a system?
In 1945, when the business was founded, it was a seller’s market. The challenge was the knowledge then. There were no systems. It was more of personal relationships then, for example overtime would be rewarded with cash on the spot. It is not quantifiable and sustainable when we grow specially if business owner is not present in the scene. Lot of things have changed. Bringing in systems into place was very painful. When we grow, systems have to be brought in place. To make the employees understand the importance of systems and its benefits for employees took some time. For example “Overtime is recorded with punch-in and punch-out and rewarded now weekly or monthly”. Effort is not going waste and increment system is also fair with systems. To arrive at implementing systems has taken its own course to connect and communicate. When a system is in place with the employee’s active participation (planning and involvement) time management has become much easier. We have adopted automation in packaging. Implementation takes time and later on journey becomes smooth.

Lesson Learnt: I have learnt over a period of time that there is no need to spend a lot of money lot of times. Money well spent, time well spent makes good business sense. This approach has worked. Competition is only driving us to do better.
USP: Quality is our foremost priority. It reflects not only in products but in every process, be it suppliers, customers or service providers. It is ingrained as part of our culture.
Vision: Spreading the fragrance of essence of quality into every household is the vision of the company.
Feedback: “Amazing Smell” is the feedback I got from my 11-year-old niece as soon as I opened the packet of incense sticks. The fragrance lingers on as I complete this blog. Wishing the entire team of Sarathi on its roadmap of success. I thank Mr. Sapthagiri for sharing his valuable time and experiences.

Watch this space for more pathbreakers. If you would like to be featured in “joyful-workplaces” blog, do feel free to write to us. Our editorial team would be happy to get in touch. Write to us joyworkshop@hasovan.comCatch the work-place philosophy of Sarathi International Inc. in the book “Erupt with Joy”.

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  1. Nice to read about the company and how it has carved a niche for itself. More power to Sara tho International... and keep rocking Giri.

    Congrats to the author of this blog too, for a well written piece.

    1. Thank you so much Mr. IAN for your appreciation

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