“The choice isn’t between success and failure; it’s between choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.”― Keith Farrazzi
The Company started its journey before independence, and has evolved to focus on sustainable fibers, creating a niche for itself and pride for the country, delight for the customer.
How it started
Mr. Alexander Neroth, the CEO of NC John & Sons Pvt. Ltd. – an eco-friendly sustainable apparel company, based out of Tirupur, the knitwear capital of India, is an inspiring story of clear vision and bold execution of the vision.
NC John & Sons Pvt Ltd was established in 1943 with business in floor coverings made from eco-friendly materials namely, coir, jute and sisal. The company has been a family textile business over the 78 years of its existence as a Pvt. Ltd. company. It diversified into the apparel industry in 1992 and currently is an established manufacturer and exporter of sustainable apparel and natural floor coverings shipping to over 35 countries globally.
Approach & Strategy
The organization believes in working “in harmony with nature” and is committed to becoming a 100% sustainable garment manufacturer and exporter. At NC John, the leadership strives to reduce the impact on the environment through sustainable, certified and global manufacturing practices. GOTS and WRAP certifications reflect company’s commitment towards natural, organic, non-toxic processes. The company’s niche product range is made of exotic fibers and a unique method of colour blends. One of the major impacts of creating blends in this manner is saving water.
The main focus is to make every step of all the processes (entire value chain) sustainable and all the products earth friendly and carbon neutral. The products should be recyclable, the processes energy efficient, transparent and traceable. The overall approach is to make a difference to society and the environment.
The founders here, understand that sustainability is not just to adapt to the changing environment but also analyze & predict the expected trends and be ready for the future. This adaptability and risk-taking strategy have made it possible for the company to sustain for such a long period of time through generations.
Some of the guiding principles of the company are Passion, Teamwork, Commitment, Transparency, Quality and Resourcefulness.
Diversification & Growth
With its strategic advent in the textile industry in 1992, the company proved that it’s not here to settle for anything less than success. Slowly and steadily, the exports grew to many countries. It was in 2002 that Mr. Alexander joined the company as the CEO. In 2004, they got GOTS certified and by 2008, they were dealing extensively with organic cotton and bamboo. In 2010, they ventured into the field of recycled PET with the organic cotton and 2 years down the line, brought Hemp into business. Since then, they had been constantly experimenting with the raw materials and had been innovating with Recycled Cotton, Linen, Recycled PET and Natural Dyes.
NC John is an epitome of setting up examples for the new and young organizations. While it is commonly understood that innovation is the key to success, there are other components necessary to help organization maneuver its path through challenges and roadblocks. The risk-taking capacity and adapting to the new requirements have helped the organization for growing and expanding its business visions.
The sustainable materials have their own unique processing, while the process for PET bottles is recycling by creating chips, fibres and fabric, for Hemp the process is very different, as post-harvest, retting, carding, pulping and then finally matting and weaving takes place. Recycled cotton is made through both post-consumer and pre-consumer cotton mix.
With clients across USA, Australia, UK, France, Italy, UAE, Germany & Poland, the company’s policy is to go extra miles to meet the customer’s expectations. The company strives to excel in winning customer’s trust and creating positive experiences.
Great success comes only after crossing greater hurdles. When one is a visionary, ahead of times, many a times the biggest challenge is not many people are aware of the value proposition. Mr Alexander calls that as one of the biggest hurdles they had to overcome by being persistent, sometimes even pushing their clients to see the value in sustainability. The reward is when the customer responds with confirmations and tests the market to reap benefits of sustainable materials. Initially, the volume of orders which they needed in order to survive, were not adequate. Sustainable practices were not accepted in the market, and no one cared about the consequences of non-sustainable practices. Even the suppliers of such raw materials were quite less in number, and recycling was an extremely difficult proposition.
Sustaining the ambitious values of NC John in this situation was a difficult task and they had to scale up their product offerings. This was aided by the experimentation they were doing with the raw materials like organic cotton, bamboo, PET, etc. For instance, recycled PET was used to blend with the organic cotton in such a way that the shades of the colour would remain stable and consistent. This was one of the single biggest value that helped in scaling up. This saved the efforts of the clothes being dyed and thus reducing water wastage
Unmoda – Innovative Clothing Products
This year, on International Women’s Day, as an initiative for the cause of women and the environment, the company developed reusable period panties under the brand name Unmoda. These are aimed at replacing the traditional sanitary pads, as they cause huge harm to the environment. These period panties are anti-bacterial, leakproof, odor-free, rash-free, breathable and are environment friendly.
Soon in August this year, NC John will be releasing a new product under Unmoda – first recycled polyester garments. Unmoda as Mr Alexander suggests is where sustainability and innovation meet human needs.
Energy Consumption – 100% renewable energy
NC John uses 100% clean and green energy to produce all the sustainable products through its backing in renewable sources of energy. The company owns windmills which fulfills around 40% of the requirement and the approximately 60% requirement is fulfilled by their private investment in solar power plants. Mr Alexander shares his gratitude to the power of collective action as 132 companies in SIDCO industrial cluster are able to get renewable sources of energy at competitive prices.
There is no sustainability without social sustainability. NC John’s commitment to women is reflected in strict age-appropriate hiring, fair wages, no child labour, no forced labour. Majority of the workers are between the ages 19-26. Proper background check is done for every worker. Mr Alexander insists that they would rather err in not taking up someone, if they are unsure about the age
The working conditions for the workers are decent, fair and meet global manufacturing standards. The workers work for 48 hours a week and in case they work extra, they are paid extra. They are all covered under Employee Insurance. Ethical practices are ensured by making bank transfers rather than cash payments.
Even during the pandemic, the company ensured that no worker suffered on account of salaries of its employees, even during the disruptions. The company also organized drives for its employees to distribute food and groceries, twice every fortnight.
Aiming for sustainable growth
“The future is launching more innovative products, bringing down the cost for Unmoda wear for masses and continuing to innovate for sustainable products, whatever the risks” says Mr Alexander, looking forward to the bright future and rising demand for sustainable products.
Interviewed by : Dr. Shashi K, Sameeksha Sahai