We built our company from zero to millions with Tukatech

tuka1When Robert Lohman, environmental studies degree in hand, decided to enter the apparel manufacturing business, he had two goals. “We wanted to come up with a basics brand that was all organic,” he says, “and we wanted it to be made in Los Angeles.” That was back in 2010, and conventional wisdom would have dictated that someone with no industry background or training, going 100 percent organic with recycled material, and locating his manufacturing base in the heart of the Los Angeles garment district, would likely be out of business by 2011.
tuka5Conventional wisdom, in this case, would be dead wrong. Today, Lohman is CEO of the Groceries brand of men’s and women’s organic and recycled material tops. It can be found in over 400 stores worldwide, including Kitson and Planet Blue in Los Angeles and Barney’s New York and Opening Ceremony in Tokyo.

Groceries boasts annual sales in the seven figures, a 33,000-square-foot manufacturing facility downtown at the corner of Alameda and 7th, and 64 full-time employees. In addition to its own label, Groceries also sells volume private-label blanks to big names such as Paul Mitchell and Pearl Jam. The company is doubling its size every nine months. In other words, Groceries is a rousing success.

What accounts for it? To begin with, a strong corporate vision combined with a healthy dose of stubbornness. “We’d rather go out of business than manufacture nonorganic shirts and manufacture overseas,” Lohman says. “We will not go against our DNA that way.” And Lohman credits one other key component for Groceries’ achievements. “We really wouldn’t be here without Tukatech,” he says.

“Tukatech’s staff members were very cooperative during the installation process, and provided overall guidance and suggestions for our cutting room,” said Dinesh Virwani, Group Managing Director. “While our installation process is still continuing, we have already seen our pattern makers more than double the number of patterns they can produce in one day.”

Tukatech, a name well known and respected throughout the apparel industry, is the leading provider of fashion software and hardware technology solutions. The 18-year-old company, headed by industry veteran Ram Sareen, has built a devoted following among designers, manufacturers, and distributors worldwide, having sold some 19,000 systems and replacing over 5,000 competing systems in the process. Its advanced TUKAcad software is arguably the most instinctive and ultra-efficient 3D and 2D patternmaking, marking, and grading software on the market, while its SMARTmark module maximizes marker placement with surgical precision to make use of every usable square inch of fabric. Its advantages over its “very expensive and rigid” competitors are many, Lohman says, but for him two qualities were critical: TUKAcad is instinctive and easy to use with built-in videos and self-training audio help and support for every function, and Tukatech’s prices are affordable and terms flexible. Tukatech “allowed me to rent for $200 a month, which made so much sense to me since we were getting started from nowhere,” he explains. “We didn’t purchase any hardware, like plotters or digitizers, because we could use TUKAcenters. Suddenly, we had the same powerful tools big apparel companies used. That was empowering.”

Those advantages were key, Lohman goes on, because of Groceries’ ambitious, locally based, vertical-integration business model. “A lot of brands outsource their manufacturing, especially overseas,” he says. “We think you can be more profitable manufacturing in the U.S., and it reduces your carbon footprint.”

Still, the challenges are many. “We take on all the headaches that come with manufacturing here because we gain speed, the ability to react to trends, and also to manufacture at a lower cost,” Lohman says. The company also takes a smaller margin to be able to compete with nonorganics. “We focused on price point because we want to compete not only with other organic companies but with nonorganics as well. Since there’s no middle man, we pass that savings on to the buyer. If we didn’t manufacture here, we wouldn’t be able to offer this kind of pricing and have the success we’ve had in the market.”

tuka3Renting TUKAcad “gave us an efficiency as far as saving fabric, but, more than anything, it allowed us to work on our own timeline, even all night if we wanted to,” Lohman says. He has since bought the software, and, three months ago, he added the SMARTmark module. “It’s been another transformation in our company,” Lohman continues. “SMARTmark is TUKAcad on steroids. It is really and truly amazing.” What used to take 30 to 40 hours per week now takes “less than two hours.” Expecting a 5 percent fabric savings, SMARTmark is realizing near 20 percent, which should save Groceries an estimated 100,000 yards of fabric next year. “Efficiency is a huge part of being an eco company,” Lohman says. “We save money, use fewer resources, and create more demand for organic fabrics.” And that fits Groceries’ corporate goals to a T.

Lohman also credits Groceries’ success to “immense help” from Sareen and Tukatech’s strong customer support. “We made good business decisions manufacturing here it’s not just a gimmick,” Lohman says. “But I’m not sure we’d be able to exist without Tukatech. We couldn’t compete with much larger companies, wouldn’t have the flexibility to produce and design. It’s very empowering for a small company to have that much strength in that type of software. Those are the words flexibility and empowerment that are the keys to our success.”

EPIC GROUP to See Epic Growth in TUKATECH Partnership

Epic Group's headquarters in Hong Kong.

Ram Sareen, Founder and CEO, Tukatech, and Ranju Mahtani, CEO, Epic Group, pose with a rickshaw at Epic’s Central Hub in Hong Kong.

Los Angeles, CA- Tukatech is pleased to announce that the Epic Group, one of Asia’s most prominent garment manufacturers, has converted all of their CAD systems to Tukatech’s TUKAcad. The Epic Group has a reputation for utilizing advanced techniques and cutting edge technology to produce highly technical garments for a global customer base.
Based in Hong Kong, Epic was founded in 1971 and has manufacturing facilities in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. Epic Group produces over 4 million garments each month, many of which are treated at the company’s in-house facilities that specialize in wet and dry processing, embroidery, printing and wrinkle-free post-cure treatments. CEO Ranju Mahtani and his team have focused on developing and improving the science and technology of garment production, and believe that switching to TUKAcad was the next logical step in operating cutting edge production facilities.
The Epic Group is no stranger to CAD technology, and until recently, utilized garment production software from Lectra, Gerber, Assyst, Optitex, and Morgan. Ranju Mahtani, the CEO and founder, Managing Director, Dinesh Virwani, and the rest of the leaders at the Epic Group decided to convert all of their systems to Tukatech’s TUKAcad, the garment industry’s most powerful pattern making, grading, and marker making software.

Epic Group's factory in Bangladesh.

Dinesh Virwani, Group Managing Director, with Ram Sareen, Founder and CEO, Tukatech, at Epic CIPL, Epic Group’s flagship production facility in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The decision to switch was an easy one, as Tukatech’s software has improved efficiency and saved millions of dollars for garment manufacturers all over the world. TUKAcad’s 2012 edition will give Epic Group’s pattern makers the ability to quickly and easily build accurate patterns, calculate and make adjustments for shrinkage, easily verify grade on the blocks, verify measurements as per requirements, make corrections and alterations to existing patterns, and better utilize fabric during the marker making and cutting processes. TUKAcad 2012 is also fully integrated with TUKA3D, Tukatech’s standard setting three-dimensional garment designer and fit simulator. Epic Group has many facilities around the world, (CIPL, EGMCL, Epic Vietnam, and PGCL) and by replacing the multitude of CAD systems previously in place with TUKAcad, the company has instituted a standard software throughout their operation, improving both communication and compatibility between each unit.
“Tukatech’s staff members were very cooperative during the installation process, and provided overall guidance and suggestions for our cutting room,” said Dinesh Virwani, Group Managing Director. “While our installation process is still continuing, we have already seen our pattern makers more than double the number of patterns they can produce in one day.”
The Epic Group is always a step ahead of the trends in the garment production industry, and their implementation of Tukatech’s system is only the latest evidence of their forward thinking attitude. The Epic Group is a leader in providing fair and ethical treatment to their employees, and in 2006, the company’s flagship Bangladesh facility became the first in the nation to receive LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) for CIPL Project. LEED certification is awarded to manufacturing facilities that have been developed with and facilitate ecologically friendly production practices, and Epic Group’s Dhaka facility was certified in May of 2011.
“Tukatech is proud to work with the Epic Group, who are not only a leader in the garment industry but proponents of advanced manufacturing and processing technology,” said Tukatech Founder and CEO Ram Sareen. “Based on our experience in converting competing CAD systems to our TUKAcad software, we are confident that the Epic Group will see improved efficiency, enormous savings, and an even stronger output in a few short months. We have been working with Epic teams and implementing solutions for the last three months, and will continue to develop better solutions with them.”

About Epic

Established in 1971, Epic has successfully transitioned from being a buying agent to being a large multinational company with world class manufacturing facilities in Asia employing over 15,000 people.

About Tukatech
Tukatech is a Los Angeles-based company that provides 2D and 3D software solutions and manufacturing equipment to garment producers. It also provides web-based product development services and PDM/PLM systems, supported by brick and mortar centers strategically located in garment hubs worldwide. With over 12,000 systems sold and about 3,500 competitive systems replaced, Tukatech is the fastest growing garment CAD/CAM company in the world. Tukatech has been ranked by Apparel Magazine

BRANDIX: Sri Lanka’s Largest Garment Manufacturer switches to TUKATECH and sees 33% increase in factory efficiency.

Dhananjaya Rajapaksha, CEO of Brandix Casualwear

After a successful test run, Brandix installed Tukatech’s TUKAcad system, streamlining their design process, increasing the success rate of fit approvals by 180% and improving overall productivity by 33%

Brandix, one of the largest garment manufacturers in Asia and the largest in Sri Lanka (suppliers to Victoria’s Secret, M&S, GAP, Banana Republic, Dillards, and more), recently installed Tukatech’s apparel software system resulting in dramatic improvement in the efficiency of their product development and production processes.

TUKA systems were initially tested by Brandix’s Denim division and showed dramatic results in the quality of patterns and the speed and efficiency in which they were produced. “We are now getting more than double the production of patterns that fit the first time, saving a large amount of fabric, and better utilizing our human resources. These changes motivated us to look at TUKA systems for our company,” said Iswaran Senthil, CEO of Brandix Denim. “Besides providing us with CAD-CAM systems, Tukatech offered valuable consulting, engineered the work flow and the pattern room, and even increased productivity in our cutting rooms.”

Though they had invested a significant amount of time and manpower into their previous CAD systems, Dhananjaya Rajapaksha, CEO of Brandix Casualwear, could not ignore the incredible changes made in the denim division, and decided to move forward with Tukatech.

Tukatech’s team provided in-person support to make the transition between CAD systems as easy as possible and worked with the staff of Brandix to customize the system to their specifications. “Tukatech CEO Ram Sareen sent his technical team from the United States and India to our offices, and many of our requests for what we wanted to see in the software were accommodated.”

“Tukatech’s team worked with us and we had a very fast implementation. I have a lot of years of experience, and I know what my team needs. Tukatech was able to give us exactly that,” said Thushad Saumydasa, Head of Product Development.

Brandix Casualwear, primarily a producer of women’s bottoms and very technically complicated products, had seen many of their customers shifting their business out of Sri Lanka to countries where garments could be produced at a cheaper price. Dhananjaya knew that in order to stay competitive, he would need to increase the efficiency of his operation by 33%, and Tukatech helped him meet his goal.

With TUKAcad and SMARTmark quickly installed, Dhananjaya was able to increase the factory’s efficiency by 33%. “I’m happy to say that we did meet our goals, and Tukatech was a part of that.”

Since the installation, Dhananjaya and his staff have expressed their satisfaction with the system, saying that it has automated much of what they once did manually, despite the fact that prior to installing Tukatech they had other CAD software, and they further stated that TUKAcad has broadened the use of CAD software throughout the company.

“Today, our people are using Tukatech’s CAD to a much larger extent than they were with our previous CAD system,” said Thushad.

“The feedback I’ve gotten from my managers is that the new Tukatech system has more functionality compared to the previous CAD systems they had and it is much easier to manage and use,” said Dhananjaya. “The most encouraging thing I’ve heard from employees is the way that the implementation of the system was handled. Tukatech’s interactions with our technical team were very beneficial. They listened to what we do and customized the systems to our needs. Many of our requests regarding the software were addressed during this period.”

“I see vast improvement,” said Thushad. “With Tukatech, everything is automated and very accommodating. Many things that I used to do manually are now automatic, and that means I can direct my attention to other matters.”

“We are in the fashion apparel industry, and fashion keeps changing fast. We must also be fast,” said Dhananjaya. “Tukatech allows us to be faster, more efficient, and ultimately improves our bottom line.”

About Brandix Casualwear
Brandix Casualwear forms the core of the Brandix group, and supplies woven bottoms, basic pants, cargo pants, 5-pocket jeans, shorts and skirts to the world’s top brands. Its seven production facilities include a state-of-the-art, fully automated denim facility which is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. Adding yet another milestone, Brandix commissioned its Green Factory in April 2008, setting a new benchmark as the first one of its kind in the country.

About Tukatech
Tukatech is a Los Angeles-based company that provides 2D and 3D software solutions and manufacturing equipment to garment producers. It also provides web-based product development services and PDM/PLM systems, supported by brick and mortar centers strategically located in garment hubs worldwide. With over 12,000 systems sold and about 3,500 competitive systems replaced, Tukatech is the fastest growing garment CAD/CAM company in the world. Tukatech has been ranked by Apparel Magazine as the #1 Apparel software company in the world. For more information, visit Tukatech.com.

Brandix Denim Division Doubles Productivity with Tukatech Systems

Colombo, Sri Lanka- Brandix Denim CEO Iswaran Senthil reports that productivity has more than doubled since his factory began using Tukatech’s TUKAcad software in March,and that the factory is now efficient enough to take on work from a sister factory.

“Our increase in productivity since switching to Tukatech has more than doubled with the exact same staff, allowing us to do more with less people and with a very quick turnaround,” said Senthil. “The work flow engineering, elimination of many paper reports and electronic communication between all CAD and non-CAD users gave us better control and an extremely fast payback on our initial investment in the software.”

According to the savings report, TUKAcad has allowed Brandix Denim’s pattern makers to verify the shrinkage, before wash and after wash measurements on the computer, eliminating the costly step of cutting, sewing, washing and then finding out the integrity of pattern makers work. Brandix Denim has also utilized TUKAcad’s compatibility with Microsoft Office to produce excel reports that can present and analyze data in several unique ways, providing executives with even more detailed information about the factory’s processes.

“The accuracy and quality of patterns allowed us to produce more styles with same people and get approvals in half the time,” said Harischandra Weligamage, Denim Plant Factory Manager Brandix Denim also implemented Tukatech’s SMARTmark, a system that optimizes marker making. “Since using SMARTmark, we saw over 2% savings in fabric utilization paid for the systems within weeks”, he added.

“I’m always pleased to hear that one of our customers is satisfied with our software,” said Tukatech Founder and Head Coach Ram Sareen. “Our company was built on the notion of improving the efficiency of garment production operations and saving them money. Brandix is one of the finest denim producers in the world, and we look forward to a long business relationship with them.”

About Tukatech

Tukatech is a Los Angeles-based company that provides 2D and 3D software solutions and manufacturing equipment to garment producers. It also provides web-based product development services and PDM/PLM systems, supported by brick and mortar centers strategically located in garment hubs worldwide. With over 12,000 systems sold and about 3,500 competitive systems replaced, Tukatech is the fastest growing garment CAD/CAM company in the world.  Tukatech has been ranked by Apparel Magazine as the #1 Apparel software company in the world.  For more information, visit Tukatech.com.

Tukatech Inc. Partners with Star Garments, Increasing Productivity by 275 Percent

Leading apparel company purchases 52 CAD software stations from Tukatech Inc.

Los Angeles, CA – Tukatech Inc., a Los Angeles-based provider of apparel industry software solutions, announces that they worked with Ventura-Star (also known as Star Garments), a major apparel manufacturer, to integrate 52 Tukatech systems into their operations, resulting in a 275 percent increase in productivity in product development.

“Since implementing the TUKAcad software we have significantly improved our productivity and efficiencies,” said Anusha Rodrigo, manager of the project at Star Garments. “Tukatech’s systems, engineering and implementation produced results beyond our expectations and their promises.”

Digital Pattern Makers at Star Garments Sri Lanka

Digital Pattern Makers at Star Garments Sri Lanka

Despite the fact that the company had 62 CAD workstations from other companies, they were still employing 42 manual pattern makers. However, after partnering with Tukatech to engineer the pattern room, Star Garments was able to streamline their processes and produce better fitting products.

“The Tukatech engineers were able to re-engineer our process and work-flow, consolidate our sample rooms, and train our personnel to engineer our patterns,” commented A. Sukumaran, Managing Director of Star Group. “All of these changes resulted in significant improvements including a fabric savings of 2%, better cutting quality, increased productivity of the installed cutters, and a better end product overall.”

“We know the management was skeptical of our claims regarding projected savings and results,” said Ram Sareen, CEO-Founder TUKAgroup. “However, through this partnership we have been able to achieve tremendous results for our client.”

About Ventura-Star/Star Garments

Ventura-Star, based in Sri Lanka, is one of the leading manufacturers of women’s apparel since 1972. Their specialty is making all categories of women’s apparel for both career and casual lines. Star Group employs over 7,000 skilled workers and manufacture pants, jackets, fully lined suits, dresses, blouses, shirts, skirts, lingerie, sleepwear etc. for key clients such as Ann Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger, Calypso, Liz Claiborne, Guess, Belk, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Dillard’s, Chico’s, Land’s End, Express, Ellen Tracy, J. Crew and many leading brands and retailers in Europe and North America.

The Smartest Gentleman in the Room…Ram Sareen, CEO/Founder of Tukatech

Reposted from Qlix Magazine, click here to see the original article

Ram Sareen, CEO of Tukatech, is one of these individuals who is innovatively molding the next generation of pattern making for the next generation of fashion designers. He talks with Qlix about his early beginnings and how Tukatech could be American Apparel’s savior…

Sample Making Software Tuka3d 3d Software

What prompted your start in the garment industry, and in particular, how did it lead up to you becoming one of the most influential and sought out individuals in apparel product developement and garment manufacturing?

Growing up in a family of “garmentos” in India in the early 60’s, my weekend chore was to take buyers and designers from the USA and Europe to see the Taj Mahal. Listening to them for 8 hours round trip was my weekly crash course in the fashion world, although at the time I had no idea how much I was learning about “what not to do” in the fashion business.

Fast-forward to 1974 when I arrived in Canada with a degree in Mechanical Engineering but no formal work experience. At that point, I realized how much I understood the apparel business and combined that knowledge and my engineering background with hard work and lots of luck to eventually start Tukatech.

My sole objective when I started Tukatech was to transform pattern making to a digital process that is accessible to apparel manufacturers all over the world. From there, we changed the paradigm in the fashion industry to help them produce “fast fashion” with the help of computers. We also worked with the fashion schools (teaching with Tukatech systems and making our CAD as a text book) to produce students who really contributed rather than worked as design assistants.

As you can see, I never did anything conventional in my life, and I do not plan to change my pattern at this age. I have always looked for ‘other’ solutions. I think Tukatech’s innovative approach and our unshakable commitment to train and produce results made a significant difference for the fashion industry. It is really a very humbling experience to be an industry leader, but it is also very challenging to stay that way. I am blessed to have a wonderful, loyal and very capable team to support my dreams.Sample Making Software Tuka3d 3d SoftwareSample Making Software Tuka3d 3d Software

Tell us…what makes Tukatech’s e-fit Simulator (3D sample making software) so innovative from other 3D sample making software (i.e. OptiTex), and do you feel it’s the future in garment making?

3D prototyping is absolutely the future of garment making, just like it was the future for the development of buildings, cars and so many other products. Tukatech’s 3D solution shines above the pack by being the most flexible and powerful of the solutions. Garments with very unique or difficult construction can be done in Tuka3D that could not otherwise be done thanks to its ‘draping in stages’ features and the ability to hide/show, and lock/unlock pattern pieces. The unique in-viewport animation capability gives users the ability to set up runway shows on their own, as well as analyze the fit of garments while in motion.

Have you ever tested a pair of jeans by sitting down to make sure there’s no ‘peeking’ in the back of the waistband? In Tuka3D, you can actually do that and see if the problem will occur. The full 3D aspect of Tuka3D allows users to work more directly with the 3D garments, creating sewing instructions and adjusting placements, adding groups to specific parts of the garment that behave differently from the rest of the garment, etc.

The majority of our readers are students or novice fashion professionals. Can emerging designers/fashion companies benefit from your products/services, though it seems that your client base deals mainly with larger companies? If so, how and is it budget friendly for a startup/emerging designer to use?

Certainly students, emerging designers, small companies, and start-ups can benefit tremendously from our software and services. Traditionally, CAD software costs thousands of dollars, which may be beyond the budget of someone just starting out. We felt it wasn’t productive for the industry for smaller companies to not have access to the best technology. Therefore, we created a rental program of our entire CAD software suite. A company of any size can rent our full professional version for as little as $150 per month per user.

Furthermore, smaller companies need a way to output their patterns/CAD drawings. However, they are not likely to invest initially in the expensive hardware. What’s the use of making CAD drawings cheaply if it it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg to share them with your manufacturer? We created a solution by partnering with FedEx Office. Most FedEx Office locations have the required specialized printing capabilities and allow you to upload content to their site and have it printed to the nearest location.

We also created a portal from our CAD system to the web through a service called TUKAweb.com. TUKAweb.com is a full service product development, data conversion, and hosting site that smaller companies can use to outsource work which would otherwise be too expensive to do internally. Essentially, through our rental program, online services, and FedEx partnership, we have become an extremely useful tool for start-ups and small companies.

As for students, we believe they should have access to the best technology. However, a student’s budget is even smaller. So we created a student rental program. Students can rent an educational license at $25 a month, with the same access to FedEx office printing/plotting and our online services, as long as they are full-time students. Many of the more than dozen California fashion programs in our own backyard require their students to rent every semester. Additionally, we created a program where students who graduated could continue to rent at the student rate, $25/month, for up to 6 months after they graduate. We found that this helped students get job placements and continue to hone their skills.

Sample Making Software Tuka3d 3d Software Sample Making Software Tuka3d 3d Software

I read that Tukatech formed a recent partnership with American Apparel and Tukatech, and that even Dov Charney, Founder/CEO of American Apparel, made the following comment, “We chose Tukatech for their strong reputation as a leading technology provider, and have already seen savings of $4-5 million annually from implementing their software and consulting services.” My question to you is with the financial troubles still looming American Apparel (even though you’ve saved them $4 – $5 million) does a statement like this hurt or help Tukatech…in your opinion?

It helps us tremendously. As surprising as it may have seemed to the public that American Apparel was having so many financial problems, one has to realize that a CEO so hands on as Dov is, is well aware of those problems is working to solve them far in advance of them ever reaching the press. Dov is proactive. Some of his problems are simply not within his control (the real estate crash, financial crisis), while others are more creative choices that always have higher risk. However, streamlining areas of cutting room operations, product development, and fabric utilization are relatively straight forward. It’s a science. Why cut this much fabric when you can move some pieces here and use less area? Why re-grade a pattern over again every time when the computer can do it for you automatically? It’s far easier to make a decision to choose automation then it is to take your entire line in a different direction. Dov realized that he needed help in these areas and came to us. By automating several core processes, he was able to increase his yield, save time, and ultimately make more garments in any given week. Of course, what he chooses to make, how he sells it, and how he runs his financials are not things we are involved in.