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.”

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KKCL (KILLER JEANS), the Largest Denim Brand in India, Installs TUKAsystems

Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited, the producer behind many of India’s most popular brands, finalized a deal to utilize Tukatech’s award winning garment development software. Tukatech’s advanced systems will help KKCL develop new products and streamline their production process.

Tukatech and Killer Jeans finalized a deal that will provide software solutions to Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited (KKCL), one of India’s leading producers of high-quality branded clothing for men and women of all ages.
In 1989, KKCL developed the Killer line of denim which quickly became one of the most popular brands in India. Since then, the company has implemented cutting edge garment design and manufacturing technology to maintain their dominance in the worldwide apparel marketplace. KKCL has also established a large retail presence selling their brands directly to the consumer, and currently operates more than 240 outlets across India with plans for further expansion.

KKCL’s decision to install Tukatech’s TUKAcad and TUKA3D for fit development is part of their continued use of innovative technology.

Ram Sareen, CEO-Founder TUKATECH and Dinesh Jain, Director KKCL.

KKCL credits much of their success to their large and efficient manufacturing processes. With an enormous capacity that can accommodate sourcing, finishing, and everything in between, KKCL’s ability to produce high quality garments with quick turnarounds will be streamlined by using Tukatech’s products. TUKAcad, Tukatech’s award-winning CAD system, will allow each pattern maker to make and grade patterns with better accuracy in a shorter amount of time, and SMARTmark will allow marker makers to maximize fabric usage in the cutting room.

In addition to manufacturing garments, KKCL have developed several leading brands that combine the company’s popular designs with their exacting production standards. By adopting TUKA3D, KKCL will be able to create realistic 3D prototypes that demonstrate color, texture, fit, and movement in complex clothing patterns, reducing the new product development time and allowing them to be more innovative and offer more choices to their consumers.

The Killer brand is one of the most recognized brands in India, and KKCL has been very successful in developing other brands and product lines such as LAWMAN, INTEGRITI, EASIES, and CHICA, with more in development. From shoes to hats, belts to cologne and deodorant, the stores offer a lifestyle appropriate to their brand name and fashion.

KKCL has advanced their own garment technology by developing patented seams, stitches, and washes for their own brands, all of which were created by the company’s designers. By using TUKA3D to design and test future innovations, KKCL will be able to immediately assess and visualize their work on a life-like, three-dimensional avatar that demonstrates how the clothes look, fit and drape on a human being. As KKCL continues to pioneer new ways to make garments, Tukatech will offer both technology and support to turn their vision into reality.

“Tukatech is proud to work with Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited, one of India’s most prestigious manufacturers and the home of several of the nation’s leading brands,” said Tukatech founder and CEO Mr. Ram Sareen. “We are excited to add them to our list of partners that include ‘W’ , BIBA, Globus, Juliet, Jockey , Zadex, Jade Blue, Kids Studio, Tarun Tahiliani, WildCraft, ColorPlus, Zaab, Sweet Dreams, TATA Trend and many more in our family of domestic brands in India gaining international fame.”

“We wanted to get the best technology along with experienced guidance from the TUKATECH team and Styku’s 3D systems and in-store body scanners. We are really excited to begin working together,” commented Mr. Dinesh Jain, one of the four brothers running KKCL.

About KKCL
Innovation has been the hallmark of Kewal Kiran Clothing Limited A marriage of design and technology, the company has constantly introduced new fits, finishes and fabrics. The company’s own R & D team works closely with designers and is constantly innovating – creating an exciting array of product lines in a variety of fabrics, washes and cuts, using the latest in technology and processes. The company’s own manufacturing and processing set up enables it to have a speedy ‘go-to-market’ time frame – from design to production.

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

Progressive Garment Manufacturer Network Clothing Company Reduces Waste By Switching to Tukatech Systems

Network Clothing Company Pvt. Ltd (NCC) is unique in the world of garment manufacturing. Their high quality knit products are the result of a progressive company attitude that strives to empower employees and reduce their operation’s impact on the environment.  “Our initiatives start at the top level of the company with Managing Director and Founder Dr. M. Ravi” said Akhilesh Anand, Apparel Division CEO. “His philosophy as ‘father’  of the company is that the company name must remain dignified. Maintaining our company’s dignity is every employee’s goal, from the operators to myself.”

Brad Whiteley, Tukatech Director, meets with Akhilesh Anand, NCC Apparel Division CEO

NCC is a 17 year-old vertical manufacturing company located in Tirupur, which is the knit capitol of India’s apparel industry. In order to instill a sense of pride in its employees, NCC has instituted a unique method of handling production programs. Each program is called a “project” and is named after an NCC merchandiser, engineer, group of employees, or product. Each project has a budget and a completion target date, and  when an individual project is completed on time, within established quality standards and under budget, the project team shares in the under budget profits. The profit-share system includes everyone involved in the project from the merchandiser and engineer to the box packers and bundle movers.

In addition to the unique revenue-sharing program, employees within individual project groups are empowered to handle any issues that arise and develop solutions to achieve the group’s goal. “The only time I get involved is if there  a machinery issue or a large purchase is required,” sad Akhilesh. “Otherwise, I rarely hear about a project unless it is beginning or finished.”

Though there are many common employment issues that plague garment manufacturers in Tirupur, these problems typically bypass NCC.  The company’s satisfied employees are quick to recommend open positions to friends and family. “When we need to increase headcount, we tell our staff about openings, and the next day there is a line out front waiting to interview,” said Akhilesh. “People love working here, and they want their family, friends and neighbors to work here too.” In place of unions, NCC employees have formed their own committee to handle any personnel issues that may arise. A worker with a problem or grievance meets with the committee and the committee is authorized to work out the issues with all involved. Employees are welcome to bring any concerns to managers, but according to Akhilesh, that rarely happens. “I get an update from the HR Department regardingcommittee meetings and activities just to be sure there are no labor law violations and to ensure that the dignity of the company, workers and committee remains intact. Generally, the committee seems to resolve the issues to everyone’s satisfaction.”

NCC produces  1.2 million  knit garments monthly for leading garment companies in the United States and Europe, with exports split about 60/40 Europe/ USA . “About 60 percent of all our production we design in house for our customers with the balance done off of customer tech packs,” said Akhilesh. In order to increase the efficiency of their garment production, NCC recently replaced their cad systems with Tukatech’s TUKAcad pattern making, grading and marking systems. This change allowed NCC to completely digitize their production. ” With the old systems we were still making patterns manually, then digitizing them into the systems,” said Akhilesh. “With TUKAcad, we make the first pattern off of established graded blocks in system, which eliminates digitizing and grading!”  Since all pattern makers began producing patterns electronically, productivity has skyrocketed and the amount of styles designed and developed has increased dramatically, allowing NCC to exercise more control over the quality of their product mix and development cycle time.

The installation of TUKATECH’s  SMARTmark automatic marker making software has further eliminated  manual marker making and is saving NCC money on fabric costs. “Our payback for entire system is less than two months just from money saved in fabric utilization,” said Akhilesh.

NCC is saving a lot more than just money; the company’s progressive attitude extends to their green energy initiative.  NCC has built a wind power turbine that takes advantage of the winds blowing through the Tirupur area, and the company is generating  1.0 MG of its own electricity. The power is more than enough to run their factory and laundry, and they even have enough to sell some back to the India power grid. Because of their uninterrupted power supply,  NCC eliminated the need for backup generators, saving fuel and improving air quality.

NCC’s carbon footprint is also reduced through progressive and aggressive recycling programs. Fabric fallout from the cutting tables is super compressed into insulation boards used in diesel car manufacturing, and these compressed fabric boards reduce the noise of the diesel engines from reaching the passenger compartment. NCC invested in Research and Development with the local University to utilize the waste water  from their laundry facility. The university is currently developing a process to reclaim the rinse water and make bricks for construction from the salts and residue left over. Even the company’s trash goes to compost for local farmers and all other items, including thread cones, plastics, paper, and more go to recycling programs.

Tying into their Green Initiative, Akhilesh explained that NCC is “in the process of taking the next step by adding installing Tukatech’s TUKA3D software. Once utilized companywide, we will be able to create all fit, design and development samples virtually.” He said that the software will eliminate the need to cut and sew physical samples for proto development, initial garments for pattern test of fit and to increase quantities of customer virtual “what if” sample variations and color ways that are currently done in design development. “Our fully virtual samples will not only save development costs and increase our value added partnership with customers, but it will also reduce NCC’s carbon footprint!”

NCC is committed to continuing their green initiatives. Upcoming plans include and expansion of their energy generation through solar panels, division wide water reclamation, and eventually the yarn and knitting sustainability. “We will apply for our Green Certificate later this year”, says Akhilesh, “Being green is not as costly as we expected, and in fact we are saving money! The technology is out there whether apparel development solutions like TUKATECH, or self-electrical power generation and reclaiming waste and turning it into new products. Most importantly, we are keeping the NCC name dignified and being good corporate citizens and neighbors”

About Network Clothing Company

NCC  is a company which stands for its values. NCC is one of the leading manufacturers of knitted garments in Tirupur, the Knit City of South India. NCC is committed to the delivery of quality products meeting required standards and specifications backed by the state-of-the-art infrastructure and skilled workforce. NCC is able to create the success story.

About Tukatech

Tukatech is a Los Angeles-based company that provides pattern making, grading and marker making software, 3D apparel prototyping systems and manufacturing equipment.  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 9,000 systems installed, and thousands of 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.