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EXCLUSIVE F2F with Germany’s Hohenstein Institute

Headquartered in Boennigheim, Germany, Hohenstein Institute, one of the most important independent research and testing institutions in the textile sector, launched its brand new, maiden lab in Udyog Vihar 4, Gurgaon (Haryana). The lab, equipped with state of the art technologies from the European market that meet, if not surpass, international standards, will serve manufacturers spread over the country under the guidance of its Germany office. It will provide not only application-oriented research and development of innovative products and processes, but also a wide range of tests and certifications utilised by numerous customers from trade and industry, thereby assisting them to establish a basis for making decisions on product development and marketing.

Having collaborated with expert textile engineers, chemists, physicians, biologists and physicists, the institute is able to offer the entire textile value chain and interlinked economic sectors– from advice on research and test orders to training and further education programmes– from a single source.

The ribbon cutting ceremony of the lab was attended by Prof Dr. Stefan Mecheels, President, CEO Hohenstein and his wife, Patrizia; Dr. Stefan Droste CEO; Armin Keicher; Martin Cieslik; high ranking officials from global offices of Hohenstein like Dr. Christopher Au from Hohenstein, Hong Kong;  Ms. Elana Page Taylor from Hohenstein, USA; and M Kamruzzaman and Ms. Johny Y Kanta from Hohenstein, Bangladesh, were invited as overseas dignitaries from the Hohenstein family, along with staff from the Indian branch.

Amrut Desai, Managing Director and Country Manager, Hohenstein, performed the lamp lighting ceremony. Sanjeev Khurana, the project lead and sales head, Govind Kumar Jha, Textile Lab Manager as well as Kunwar Venkateshwar Singh and Nishant Anand, Business Development Manager were present at the inauguration ceremony. The team together assiduously worked on making the inauguration a grand success while also laying the cornerstone to ensure that the lab would be one of the best in India.

Stefan Mecheels set off the ceremony and addressed the gathering: “Thank you all for such a warm welcome. We have been working in India for 12 years now and today we are opening this wonderful new lab. My grandfather who established the company in 1946 and my father would be very happy to see what we have achieved and created in India. It all began four years ago when we planned the lab and a lot of planning, thoughts and ideas have come down since then.” He added, “We aim to be the right partner for all our customers including the exporters and the domestic companies.”

The new lab is spread over seven floors. The first is dedicated to light fastening, washing, print and motif durability and drying tests while the second is for the digital testing of microscopic analysis, chemical dissolution, sample conditioning, rubbing for leather, botton impact, zipper reciprocation, child products, pilling effect, light reflection on black surrounding, burning tests including vertical flammability tests. The lab also facilitates testing of light and colour of the sample of both grey and black surroundings separately. The third floor is for office coordination, the RSM Lab is on the fourth floor where they will test waste water, chemical substances and heavy metals, covering aspects of sustainability. The sixth floor has the CRM lab which houses a differentiated wet lab to prevent any contamination, and machines that can update 12 samples at a time, a one-of-a-kind technology to be used in any Indian lab.

The laboratory has been constructed on 42,000 sq ft of space and is well equipped with state of the art lab equipment and the best ethical equipment. It employs 14 local experts as of now. There is plenty of space available for additional business expansion and for growth.

Face to Face with Prof. Dr. Stefan Mecheels & Dr. Stefan Droste

One day before the gala event of inauguration and celebration of the Hohenstein Laboratory, Perfect Sourcing stole an hour with Prof. Dr. Stefan Mecheels (President, CEO), Prof. Dr. Stefan Droste (CEO), and Amrut Desai (Managing Director & Country Manager) in an intimate setting to know and understand the Hohenstein family in detail. Here is what they shared with us.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Mecheels, in an exclusive conversation with TEAM PERFECT SOURCING

Prof. Dr. Stefan Mecheels , scion from the third generation to run the family business, believes and follows the philosophy of the ‘unity of research, service and training’ in his work. “After establishing laboratories in Germany, Hungary, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, we have now come to India with the state-of-the-art laboratory, aligned and designed by the ‘Made in Germany Hohenstein’ quality standard,” he said, while speaking to our team.

He shared, “Hohenstein is an independent and impartial company in the field of testing, certification and research with focus on textiles. Our customers are spread in across 60 countries, worldwide. We are investing significantly in internationalisation, customer services and growth.” The company that started initially with OEKO TEX Certifications has come a long way since its inception. From a mere 30 employees, the company has more than 1000 people associated with it today.

In India, the company will be happy to support the exporters to do business with their European and the US consumers. “The Indian apparel industry has set an export target of US$50 billion by 2025. Thus, the industry needs to be enhanced significantly. To achieve this target, Hohenstein lab commits to support the industry in India to fulfill its demands by advanced testing facilities,” he averred. “Hohenstein is an expert with the problem solving approach while offering excellent and comprehensive test results. Our internal Quality insurance team ensures ability and accuracy of the test results,” said he.

Asked how the company plans to position itself in the Indian market as it is not the first one to open an international lab in India and many of its competitors have come earlier, he said, “Hohenstein has always worked on proximity with the customers, services, price and quality.  We are here to help our customers with the best abilities of either side of supplier and buyer, our labs are comparable to that of forensic labs and we can provide consumer oriented fast and reliable services.”

Dr. Stefan Droste CEO, Hohenstein Shares His Views About India

“India is a very strong supplier to the US & EU with booming trends and if you look at the figures and forecasts of the development, they are astonishing. So there are a lot of suppliers who need a partner like us to help them bridge the gap from India to EU and understand the regulations and everything to sell their products easily in the final destinations,” averred Stefan while sharing his thoughts on Why India. He also stressed that India is a powerful economy that needs reliable service suppliers and thus the company’s vision was to help exporters from India to sell their goods in the EU and the US and also to help them to extend their sustainability efforts. The company that already has a lot of business partners in India felt that the only missing link here was a laboratory and with the right experience and knowhow, HOHENSTEIN could integrate its network for its business partners in India very well.

Stefan highlighted that the philosophy of Hohenstein remains the same and is consistent since the beginning as it has always been focussing on textiles and apparel and is combining resources, research and routine services to provide a one-stop solution to all needs. “We understand the problems that are being faced by an average supplier and believe in working closely with them through our network and business relationships and match it with our proficient expert team at our laboratory in Germany,” said he.

Initially the group faced teething problems while setting up a lab in India like finding the right premises; right legal allowances to open a lab, what the right size would be, but eventually, with the right type of team in India and Germany it progressed and started constructing the lab last December. “We made sure that the key lab personnel spent a month at our Germany lab to see what the character of the work that we are doing there is, how to perform and what the key approach we follow is. So it was important to us to not just buy a ready lab but to build a new one in our own spirit that identifies the process of the family,” said a confident Stefan. The new lab will be testing textiles and apparel products including environmental testing.

Asked how it distinguishes itself from others in market he said, “Our intimate knowledge of the industry and the fact that we are totally focussing on textile and apparel, and our strong background in research can help our customers solve the root cause of problems with explanations.” He also mentioned that in India, the company will also be competitive in pricing, cutting edge technology and high quality standards in testing. “We generate the same results no matter which lab in the world a sample is being tested. We are investing a lot to make sure out staff is properly trained and qualified,” he added.

“We can inform companies to avoid mistakes from the beginning. So our biggest vision for the long run is the reduction in testing costs for our partners by building more reliable and stable partners,” he pointed out.

Hohenstein has offices in Ahmedabad, Coimbatore and Mumbai in India and the company ensures that all the inspectors go to the factories in regular intervals. In fact, they have posts where the samples can be placed for testing which they often call Audit Depots and Inspectorates. Comparing the Hohenstein lab with a forensic lab, Stefan highlighted that the lab in India has first of its kind instruments in India like GC-MS/MS, LC/MS/MS, which are very sensitive. “We can show the lowest PPM and also make the customer understand if it is relevant to the quality of the product; in fact, we have developed a method that can distinguish on the final garment if GMO (genetically modified organism) cotton was used or not,” said Stefan proudly. He further explained this and said, “We are trying to develop a method to not only trace but to find out why the GMO is present, is it is due to the different chemicals used in different steps or intentional. So our team is always pushing the limits and inventing new things.”

The road map of the company will be to develop and nourish the relationship with the existing customers to expand the business with them and to become profitable at the end of the day.

(L-R) Dr. Stefan Droste, CEO, Hohenstein, Prof Dr. Stefan Mecheels, President, CEO, Hohenstein and Amrut Desai, Managing Director & Country Manager, Hohenstein

The celebration of the Hohenstein Lab included a traditional folk Bhangra dance presentations and marvelous sand art by Rahul Arya showing the India to the foreign delegates that gave a patriotic awe to every Indian present there and also a special presentation on the Hohenstein business through the ages. The event was well designed to showcase our culture and heritage in front of the international Hohenstein team.

On the event, Ms. Chandrima Chatterjee, AEPC, sent Greetings and Congratulations from the chairman of AEPC, HKL. Magu and the entire council. She said, “It is a great time for Hohenstein to come to India. The $17billion apparel industry has not seen much of a growth in last 2-3years. However we are a very aspiring industry and we plan to catch up soon with our competitors and to have a double digit growth.”

She expressed that as finally India is sensing good market situation after the much troubled issues it faced in last 2-3 years, it is a good time for companies like Hohenstein with futuristic vision to come in India. She added, “Delhi NCR is one of the biggest apparel clusters. It consists of about 40% of the apparel industry across India. However it has already seen some international testing facilities so the competition is there. I am sure you will be bringing along some new technologies, innovations. The apparel industry is the most employee intensive sector which gives good jobs as well as promoting woman empowerment. The challenge is that it is largely dominated by SMEs.” She explained the need of customization of services of Hohenstein saying, “India has a unique need in comparison to the other competitive countries. I hope you would also be addressing the small enterprises. India wants to grow as a responsible sourcing destination. As a council also we are promoting sustainable production system, practices and management system. I am really looking forward to you to help partner with them.”

Amrut Desai, Managing Director & Country Manager, Hohenstein India Pvt. Ltd., claimed their efficiency to test for sustainability and expressed, “I can very confidently say that I have a team of people who are dedicated and they will do a great job which will in turn help the industry. Our service is such that its more about to take care of the issues than just making money for ourselves.”

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