‘Covid made us realise the need for tech upgrade’ : The Tribune India

Industry and Lockdown

Pankaj Mehra, director, Mehra Wax Products Private Limited, has been into the business of manufacturing wax rolls, which are used to strengthen different types of yarn. His family had established the unit in 1977 in the Focal Point area. It supplies about 1,000 metric tonne of wax rolls across the country, which are sold to yarn manufacturing units in Ludhiana, Bathinda, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and MP. In an interview with Neeraj Bagga, he throws light on the impact of the lockdown on his business. Excerpts:

How has the lockdown impacted your business?

The demand has temporarily vanished in the market. The flow of liquidity has been affected and people are holding back payments. Exports have completely stopped. I have to cut down the production by 40 per cent due to the less demand in the domestic and international markets.

How do you see the upcoming days for your business?

After taking due permission from the District Industrial Corporation, we had started operations at the unit on April 7 as we had provided boarding and lodging facilities to labourers on the factory premises. Hence, I had to shell out Rs3,000 more on each labourer to hold them back. Though I have 60 per cent migrant workers, I had to offer accommodation facilities to even local workers on the premises. We had been planning full automatisation of the factory, which is currently being managed on semi-automatic and manual modes. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has made us realise the need for technology upgrade.

How are you dealing with the issue of paying salaries to workers?

I did not stop paying salary and wages to my workers at all. I even paid overtime to some labourers when the factory had opened after a fortnight.

What lessons have you learnt from the lockdown as a businessman?

The biggest lesson is to meet expenses even when the income has stopped. Besides, running the factory with minimum labour. Labour shortage hits the output.

Do you consider the current crisis as a challenge or an opportunity?

We believed opening the mill was a challenge. Turning it into a success will be an opportunity.

What are your expectations from govt?

The government should provide advance on the minimum rate of interest to my industry to overcome the severe economic situation.

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