Mr VK Agarwal, managing director of PT Embee Plumbon Textiles is a true leader – providing purpose, direction, and motivation — while operating to accomplish the mission and improving his organization and empowering his employees.
While business were floundering during the 1998 economic crisis in Indonesia, Mr Agarwal found opportunity in the ailing PT Embee Plumbon textile factory with ‘500 employees and has since grown to 1500 employees with an annual turnover of USD 150 million’ he says with a warm smile. He switched career from being an employee to becoming his own boss, fully aware that a great company could only be built on a happy and loyal workforce. His rich experience in textile industry combined with quality orientation has made his entrepreneurial venture successful in all aspects.
‘My first challenge was to manage a multicultural staff and to lead them to a common vision and a collaborative work environment successfully’ said Mr Agarwal. He manages this through ‘my door is always open and we have monthly staff meetings at the Cirebon factory to address any issues.’ ‘Our focus is on building a collaborative environment and many of his senior management and factory staff have been with me since the beginning’ he adds, as he aims for better quality in every aspect including human capital.
His policy on staff selection is ‘careful selection and giving them ample challenges and freedom to grow’. ‘It is very important to be flexible as per the needs of the company and employee and company culture is created to give long term identity and belonging,’ is his insight on effective management. His determination and attitude of leading by example has been instrumental in explosive growth of the company.
The factory is in Cirebon, 200 km from Jakarta, while the administrative and marketing office is in Jakarta. The plant is equipped with modern 3rd generation textile machinery with latest intelligent software, is a reflection of Mr Agarwal‘s attitude of early adoption of new concepts and technologies, to service the high growth demand of textile industries in the global market, to manufacture textile yarn and fabric. ‘Customer satisfaction is our highest priority and we continue to make yarn compatible with latest technology in weaving and knitting, which we export to 46 countries’ said Mr Agarwal.
‘Quality is key,’ said Mr Agarwal and his company was the first in Indonesia to receive the certification from USTER to mark all products as USTERIZED in 2004 as well as ISO-9001 and Oeko-Tex Standard 100, a commitment to quality. An eco-friendly perspective has led to measures in wastage reduction and power conservation through cleaner technology as well as tree planting and landscaping in and around the factory. His community focus is further exhibited by his considerable employee welfare efforts in supporting educational and sports institutions.
In addition to his hectic work schedule and frequent travel, he is an active board member of the IndCham, the India Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, an association of corporate entities and people having interests in promoting economic and business interest of Indonesia and India, with over 100 members. ‘Networking both social and for business is important’ he affirms and ‘we can all learn from each other and it’s important to meet people be open to different perspectives so we can be aware of the opportunities to collaborate and be successful’. This has led him to establish the Agarwal Samaj; a community based social and business networking of the ‘Agarwals’ in Indonesia, last year. This association has had a number of successful events fostered friendship and cooperation among the members.
‘Indonesia has a lot of potential as can be seen by the growing economy and foreign investment in the country’ and he is ‘encouraged by the growth of Indian investment and businesses, especially in coal and mining here.’ ‘This country has given us opportunities and it is our responsibility to contribute to the betterment of the people and economy here, ‘said Mr Agarwal, keen to make a difference through his efforts.
His strategy for time management is simple and effective, ‘my home and office are within 7 km, so I spend very little time on the commute and I can take regular walks with my wife and go to the gym in the morning.’ ‘Exercise is an important part of my daily life,’ said Mr Agrawal, and despite his busy schedule ‘also find time for music, my hobby and to socialize with family and friends’. He comes across as a warm, amiable and humble person with strong business acumen and effective leadership qualities, who has built a company that puts the imperative of offering quality goods to customers and undertakes activities that benefit his staff, but also the larger community as well.